Billy Connolly – Tall Tales and wee stories (3 stars)

Billy Connolly – Tall Tales and wee stories

Collection of stories from the comic's extraordinary career

At the end of 2018, Billy Connolly announced that he would no longer be performing live comedy. Age and illness had finally caught up with him, so he would do something he'd refused to countenance all these years: put his storytelling routines down on paper. Not only had he never produced a collection of his stories before now, but he went on stage merely with bullet points to work from, altering and shifting a tale's focus at every telling.

For stand-up devotees, Tall Tales and wee stories is the Big Yin bible, as he regales us in print with all those brilliant yarns he previously delivered live with wit and gusto. Turns out that there might be another reason that all this stuff remained in his head: on the page it's not especially hilarious and simply cries out for the man to be in front of you on stage or on a small screen, swishing his hair back and gallivanting about.

Although the collection is structured roughly by theme (Childhood & Family, Scotland & Beyond, Accidents & Adventures for three), it's sometimes slightly discombobulating to read one tale that seems to originate in the 70s or 80s straight to another that's from a more modernised world. One piece entitled 'The Age of Beigeism' is so distracting because he could be talking about the 1990s or it could have been written last week. Context might not be everything, but it definitely counts for something.

Out now via Two Roads.

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