There have been several occasions in my life where I distinctly remember laughing so much that I have been in pain from laughter. Of all these moments, the one that stands out the most is when I finally saw Billy Connolly live back in 2006, on his “Too Old To Die Young” tour. He performed for over three hours (which is phenomenal considering most stand up comedians average a bit over an hour), and he finished in the middle of acting out a pretend opera in which he burst into laughter, asked “what the f&%$ am I doing?” before suddenly saying goodnight and walking off, and it was only upon attempting to stand up that I realised laughing for that long had caused me intense pain in my stomach.
I have only even discovered the existence of Billy Connolly: Bravemouth, by Pamela Stephenson (his wife), recently. It is the second biography of him, the follow-up to the hugely successful Billy, which had revealed his rather traumatic childhood, and his rise from that and the steelworks into the world of music, comedy and international stardom. This sequel focuses on the year building up to his sixtieth birthday, including preparations for a massive party at a castle in Scotland that the Connolly family calls home. Like its predecessor, it mixes tales from Billy’s youth with moments from the present, full of descriptions, conversations and classic quotes from Billy, as well as the insights from his wife, who has known him since her own comedy days, long before her psychologist days.
There are many things to love about this book. While it is hilarious, and shows the comedic brilliance and genius of Billy Connolly, it also shows other sides of him, from his great acting ability, to his warm and touching views on the world and its many, varying people. Much of the book shows both Billy and Pamela (or Pamsy, as Billy calls her) abroad, travelling both for holidays and for work. The writing style itself is simple and accessible for all fans of the endearing Scotsman, and the book also contains many pages of colour photographs, many of which are quite intimate moments, and many of which reveal important people and events in Billy’s life.
If you’re a fan of Billy Connolly in any respect, as a comedian, traveller, actor, or just as an all-round inspiring person, you should definitely read this book (and it’s predecessor). This is a funny, to-the-point, and ultimately touching portrait of a talented man who is easily my favourite comedian of all time.