Och, it’s the Big Yin – A Review of Billy Connolly: Bravemouth by Pamela Stephenson

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.

10 thoughts on “Och, it’s the Big Yin – A Review of Billy Connolly: Bravemouth by Pamela Stephenson

  1. A good biography shows the subject as a well-rounded person and it sounds like ‘Pamsy’ did a great job. From what you said about the first book, Billy Connolly’s comedy was a reaction to some childhood trauma, which seems to be a running theme for a lot of comedians – laughing through the pain. It’s good for his fans to know the other faces of him.

    As a kid, my best friend and I used to listen to records of Bill Cosby and Bob Newhart until we could recite each sketch by heart. Often a line or two would sneak into our conversations and we’d both convulse into giggles, leaving everyone around us scratching their heads. Good comedy is hard to find and, while I am not all that familiar with Billy Connolly’s work, (although I have enjoyed him whenever I’ve caught him on a sitcom or Comedy Network) I will make a point of looking up his biography. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • That is definitely true, that a lot of comedians use comedy to deal with some kind of personal trauma or pain. But what I find interesting with Billy Connolly is that his past is truly in his past, in as much as he is a happy, optimistic person now. His comedy now just continues because he’s good at it, I suppose.

      Ahh Bill Cosby, I remember seeing him on television quite a lot when I was a child. I know what you mean though, about sneaking quotes into conversations – I do that a lot with Monty Python actually, and am pleasantly surprised when some of my teenage students know exactly what I am talking about and join in! 🙂

    • Thank you, you are too kind! 🙂
      I will write my response a bit later, maybe in a week or so. I have a few other posts I want to put up first (and as I’m a lot busier at the moment I only really have the time and energy for about 3 posts a week). But thank you all the same, I will definitely do this when I get the time! 🙂

  2. To say that I’m envious of your seat at the “Too Young to Die” tour is an abhorrent understatement. Laughing is rumored to be prodigious medicine; however, it takes a particular type of humor/entertainer/wit to truly make me chortle over anything, but he always has, and I express gratitude in my own lengthy and awkward way to you for this post. It has brought back fond quips that have made me smile.

    • I agree, there is definitely something special about laughter, and Billy Connolly has probably made more people around the world laugh than most.
      Glad you liked this post! If you ever get a chance to see Connolly, definitely go, no matter how much the cost (it usually is a bit pricier to see him), because it really is worth it! 🙂

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