It has been a long time since I genuinely laughed out loud while reading a book – quite uncontrollably, I might add – and I should have known it would come from this hero of Scottish comedy.
A master of storytelling, observation and digression, Connolly recently announced his retirement from live comedy after 50 years of side-splitting entertainment, but not before pulling together a compilation of his most iconic sketches.
‘You’ll hear my voice in your head while you’re reading,’ writes Connolly in his introduction. ‘And if you miss seeing my drunk walks or wildebeest mimes – it’s your turn now. Get together with your pals and try them [my stories] yourselves for a laugh.’
There is, of course, little chance of anyone coming close to emulating The Big Yin’s legendary yarns, but his profanity-laden spiels about trips to the seaside, Vegemite in bed, incontinence pants or knitted balaclavas read as though he is standing in front of you.
It is nearly impossible to turn a single page without pausing for a fit of raucous laughter – so don’t try reading it on the train, unless you’re prepared for some strange looks.
Of course, many of the stories in the book are familiar, but they will never tire. His candid accounts of life’s absurdities – from ‘appreciating’ music lessons to jojoba shampoo – are timeless and span generations in a way that few other comics have ever managed.
Granted, this book is no substitute for seeing Connolly’s live stand-up – it would be impossible to translate every nuance of his performances onto paper – but it still stands as a riotously funny and foul-mouthed read.
The ‘wee stories’ are broken into easy-to-read snippets, so it can be picked up any time you’re in need of a good laugh.
A joy to have on the bookshelf, and a reminder that nothing keeps us going like a sense of humour. I defy anyone to read this and not weep with laughter by page two.
Tall Tales and Wee Stories, by Billy Connolly, published by Two Roads, £20.