By turns heartbreaking and hilarious, this intimate biography of the British comic is “a triumph of the will, an Angela’s Ashes with punch lines” (Publishers Weekly).
One of the UK’s most beloved stand-up comedians, Billy Connolly is recognized around the world for his HBO comedy specials and roles in movies like The Boondock Saints and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. An inspiration to generations of British comedians, including such stars as Eddie Izzard, Billy is known simply as “The Big Yin” in his native Scotland. But his road to success was anything but easy. Abandoned by his mother in a Glasgow tenement, abused by his father and the cruel aunt who became his caretaker, he would seem to have little chance of survival let alone meteoric success.
Billy, the revelatory, poignant, and wildly entertaining biography is written by the woman who knows him best—his wife. Pamela Stephenson, a clinical psychologist, takes us through the heartbreaking and hilarious life of this comic legend, providing an intimate window into what made him the man he is today.
American audiences only know Billy Connolly if they know him at all from his HBO comedy specials, or from his role opposite Judi Dench in Mrs. Brown. But Connolly is one of England's most popular and infamous comedians. This biography, written by his wife, explains why. Connolly broke into show biz in the late 1960s with a banjo-comedy routine that he performed in Glasgow pubs. By the end of the '70s, Connolly was booking sold-out shows all around England and appearing frequently on TV and film. His antics were notorious: he looked like a hippie, swore like a sailor (he used "the 'f' word in every single sentence and double on Sundays") and drank incredible amounts of liquor (he named his comedy tours after his drink du jour: the gin tour, the brandy tour, etc.). He was also prone to singing songs like "What Does a Scotsman Wear Under His Kilt" to the tune of "Blowin' in the Wind." But, Stephenson argues, there was considerable pain behind Connolly's headline-grabbing behavior. As a child, he was abandoned by his mother and raised in a slum, subject to physical and sexual abuse from relatives. It's Connolly's past, and his strength in overcoming it, that rescues this book. What could have been a humdrum biography turns into a triumph of the will, an Angela's Ashes with punch lines. Apart from an annoying tendency to name-drop American celebrities who just adore Billy, Stephenson admirably describes a man who manages to be very funny despite very unfunny beginnings. Photos.