Billy Connolly is 'finished with stand-up' due to Parkinson's

Billy Connolly, 77, confirms he is ‘finished with stand-up’ due to his battle with Parkinson’s but insists he won’t let the disease ‘define’ him

  • The comedian, 77, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2013 
  • Billy told Sky News he is ‘finished with stand-up’ due to his symptoms worsening
  • The Scottish star gave an update on his battle with the degenerative disease on Thursday 
  • Billy said he had ‘started drooling’, his walking is impaired and he has difficulty hearing
  • The actor said he doesn’t want the disease to define him
  • In the early 1970s, Connolly made the transition from folk singer with a comedic persona to fully fledged comedian
  • Billy is now enjoying a career as an artist and has sold artwork for thousands

Billy Connolly has confirmed his retirement from stand-up comedy. 

The Scottish comedian, 77, has said he is ‘finished’ with stand-up due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease. 

Billy revealed he had been diagnosed with the degenerative disease in 2013 and while he said last year he ‘may perform at some other point’, he has now insisted his days on stage are over.

Retirement: Billy Connolly has confirmed he is ‘finished’ with stand-up

Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years.

Billy told Sky News: ‘I’m finished with stand-up – it was lovely and it was lovely being good at it. It was the first thing I was ever good at.’

Billy is invited to numerous engagements with other Parkinson’s sufferers, but admitted he turns a lot down because he doesn’t think it would be ‘particularly good’ to let the disease ‘define’ him.

End of an era: The Scottish comedian, 77, has said he is ‘finished’ with stand-up due to his battle with Parkinson’s disease

He said: ‘I’m always being asked to go to Parkinson’s things and spend time with Parkinson’s people, having lunch or something like that. And I don’t approve of it.

‘I don’t think you should let Parkinson’s define you and all your pals be Parkinson’s people.

‘I don’t think it’s particularly good for you. So I don’t do it.’  

The Mrs Brown star gets ‘upset’ over his diagnosis, and admitted it means he walks ‘like a drunk man’ at times, and it can limit him from doing certain things, such as putting change back in his wallet.

Sharing his struggles: After his diagnosis, Billy continued to tour with his stand-up shows until 2017, but said his Parkinson’s made him get ‘rooted to the spot and afraid to move’

He added: ‘Certain things go wrong, your brain goes adrift and affects your body, and so you walk differently, you walk like a drunk man sometimes. And you’re frightened you’ll be judged on it. And you shake sometimes.’

In the early 1970s, Connolly made the transition from folk singer with a comedic persona to fully fledged comedian, for which he is now best known. 

In 1972, he made his theatrical debut, at the Cottage Theatre in Cumbernauld, with a revue called Connolly’s Glasgow Flourish.  He also played the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 

In the early 1970s, Connolly made the transition from folk singer with a comedic persona to fully fledged comedian, for which he is now best known (pictured in the 1980s)

Known for his idiosyncratic and often off-the-cuff observational comedy, which frequently includes the use of profanity, in 2007, Connolly was voted the greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups, and again in the updated 2010 poll . 

After his diagnosis, Billy continued to tour with his stand-up shows until 2017, but said his Parkinson’s made him get ‘rooted to the spot and afraid to move’.  

The actor then moved to Florida with wife Pamela Stephenson to fight the degenerative disorder.  

 Throwback: In 1972, he made his theatrical debut, at the Cottage Theatre in Cumbernauld, with a revue called Connolly’s Glasgow Flourish (pictured 1979)

But the star has taken up a new lucrative career as an artist- and his artwork is selling for thousands of pounds.  

Billy said: ‘It’s just not the kind of thing that people like me do.’

Last year, Billy admitted his ‘hearing [was] going’ and he can no longer think ‘at speed’.

He said: ‘I may perform at some other point but I have no plans to. And I’m quite happy taking my medicine and getting along with it.

Funny: Known for his idiosyncratic and often off-the-cuff observational comedy, in 2007, Connolly was voted the greatest stand-up comic (pictured 2005)

‘I’ve started to drool which is a new one on me. This disease, it gives you a new thing every now and again that you have to deal with and drooling is my latest.

‘I walk unsteadily and my hearing is going and it’s bizarre that bits of me are falling off but it’s interesting.’ 

The funnyman has two children – Cara, 45, and Jamie, 49, from his first marriage to Iris Pressagh.

Billy and Pamela have three children together – Scarlett, 30, Amy, 32, and Daisy, 34.

WHAT IS PARKINSON’S DISEASE? 

Parkinson’s disease affects one in 500 people, and around 127,000 people in the UK live with the condition.

Figures also suggest one million Americans also suffer.

It causes muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, tremors, sleep disturbance, chronic fatigue, an impaired quality of life and can lead to severe disability.

It is a progressive neurological condition that destroys cells in the part of the brain that controls movement.

Sufferers are known to have diminished supplies of dopamine because nerve cells that make it have died.

There is currently no cure and no way of stopping the progression of the disease, but hundreds of scientific trials are underway to try and change that.  

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