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It was announced this week that Billy Connolly is going to make a final comedy appearance next month before he retires, and I'm joined on the line now by journalist Patrick Frain and a friend of Billy's, Phil Colter. But first, let's have a quick reminder of Billy. Here he is talking to a gay bar and on The Late Late Show.


What is this thing you have, Mr. Connolly, for the people telling you normally kidnapping the Irish. Very funny enough in Ireland. Very funny. And just Smallman, another woman who we three women with a cardigan and just sit in a table with a woman elephant in a restroom. Is anybody sitting here? Because you don't think you're famous, I'm sure you have exactly the same in yourself. This woman, I said Jesus called. There's a reason this is the sunshade in this bloody freezing.


And she says, but it's going to be a lovely summer. And I said, Oh, really? She says, yes, the dolphins are in candy.


Right? She's right. You see, last year we got a report on the radio program that the Dolphins were really early on.


We had a fantastic summer, you know, and this year the dolphins are in about what did you see?


What can you say? No, I like to know that I can trust that if I'm in Scotland and the guy says to me, it's going to be a long winter. There's a lot of berries in the whole is going to be this the Roberts says shame, you know, the way they go for the deal. So it's always in the full moon move. Definitely. Autumn went along seven o'clock and the seagull will have blue and a little bit.


You've got to trust them because the centuries of thing, that's the one that you live in. See, I am tired of women, Backyardigans. Dull looking buggers. Changeable weather was not included. Oh really. Oh God. He's got a degree you can tell. You know, I saw this man gets paid posher. Frank Good afternoon.


When is Billy Connolly retiring? So he announced his retirement earlier in the year. Plus he announced this week that they're making an ITV special, Billy Connolly. It's been a pleasure with contributions from like people like his wife, obviously, Pamela Stevens, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Russell Brand, Whoopi Goldberg. I ruined our Slingsby. So that would be his kind of final farewell to standup. He's been kind of he was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2013, but he's still making really good documentaries.


Like I quite liked the Billy Connolly great American Transdev did a book, a funny story last year. And he's just a really unique character in comedy. Like I was cracking up listening to that there, because it's not even just what he's saying. It's just he's just an a funny man and he's kind of coming from somewhere very different from most other British comedians, I think. In what sense?


Well, I think it's kind of he he comes to the floor of the alternative comedy stuff and and he's very different from the kind of working man comedian that came before us. Yeah. I think it's because he was a musician and he was coming out of like I think it's because he was coming out of that folk musician circus. He wasn't really starting out to be a comedian. He was playing gigs with people like Gerry Rafferty and chromosomes. And the comedy starts just come out in his act.


So you used to talk between the songs and I think he said himself, the pits between the songs just started to get longer. And before he knew was he didn't he just didn't need his banjo anymore. Yeah, I'm not sure.


Were you one of those people who would have grown up with that Billy Connolly record? Remember, there were records in those days. People bought comedy records and listened to them over and over again.


That's it. And there was like like I used to extraversion the bridge and got his comedy tapes all the time, like he was. And he was he seemed omnipresent in the late Late Show. So he kind of feel like a felt like one of those people we kind of decided was Irish. And I also think he had a massive influence in Irish comedy. Like I think people like doing more. And actually B and Tommy Tiernan are coming from that kind of slightly surreal storytelling pharmacologic Billy Connolly does, rather than the kind of British alternative comedy stuff which is all about big bangs and shocks.


So, listen, this is it's going to be a very, very emotional show, I imagine, isn't it? Yeah, I think look, I think people feel like I think the other thing I kind of looked at him in recent years is he wrote a great book where his wife was pregnant. Students wrote a book about him that was kind of going into kind of therapy territory, really. Abuse is difficult. And he's managed to kind of deal with the fact he would have come from great poverty and seen abuses of kids and had his own issues with alcoholism.


And he still managed to to the other side. It's kind of funny. You know, it goes against the kind of I love the way he's kind of evolved as a person without ever stopping being funny, because I think there's lots of people out there who think that dysfunction is kind of integral to being creative. So that's completely untrue. Yeah, yeah. I could be. Grace and Phil Coulter, how are you? I'm good, Brendan.


How did you and Billy Connolly get to know each other in 1974?


I was producing the middle of my teenybopper era. I was producing a lot of teenybopper bands like the Big Bay City Rollers. And one of them was a band called Slick Glasgow based band managed by a man called Frank Lynch. I got a call from Frank Lynch one day congratulating me on the fact that we were number one in the charts with a song called Forever and Ever with Slick. And he said, Well, by the way, Phil, I need you to do me a favor.


What's that? Frank says, I he said, I need to come up and produce an album by another actor that I'm managing up here called Billy Connolly. I said I never heard of him. What is it do? He said, well, just as Patrick was saying just now, well, he's basically a folk singer, but he tells gigs in between the songs. And I remember distinctly, brother, my reaction was, Frank, are you having a laugh?


You want me to abandon the Bay City Rollers and Slick when I'm the middle of trying to get records in the charts in America to come up to Scotland to make an album with a folk singer who tells gigs? And that was I. I persuaded me to make the trip. Boy, am I glad he did. Because within you know, within the first half hour of my listening to Billy on that very, very first, very first concert, first gig I ever heard him.


And I just I was all geared in the mobile studio, I'd say The King's Theatre with my stopwatch and my clipboard already when I dropped that stopwatch with a clipboard away and just pissed myself laughing. And I said, this is the funniest guy I've ever heard in my life. And, you know, all these years later, I still think he's a funny guy on the planet. Yeah.


As Patrick was saying there, Phil, you reckon like that Billy really broke the mold in lots of ways.


Oh, entirely. Entirely. I mean, you know, he didn't go on stage and tell jokes. That's one thing you never did. I mean, his whole kind of stream of consciousness stuff was was just as we just heard about that just it's just kind of blaber you know, it was he didn't never have a structured act. All of the years that I know Billy, all the albums that I produced with Billy, we often often were in a situation where I would record maybe two or three nights of of a run.


And after the first night, I would say to Billy, you know what? You need to finish some of those stories, because I have got to get like I've got to get ten tracks on this album. You start a lot of them. You go off on a tangent and you never get to a punch line. But that was Billy. It was in his delivery, his energy and his his uniqueness that the sound of his voice, his accent, his energy was all, well, part a part of Billy.


He was the complete opposite from those workingman's club comedians. Used to go on to tell Patty the Irishman jokes. You know, he was just he was a breath of fresh air. His energy and his irreverence was something which really did break the mold for comedians.


And listen, lest we forget, you guys recorded a song together that went to number one.


Yeah, that was very funny. He was across in the house one night for four for dinner and over over dinner and and a few glasses of wine. Well, several glasses of wine. We decided we would write a parody on a particularly cheesy country song, Davy, or see, we've got a chance to go into the studio to record it just for the crack. We played it to Polydor Records and they said, well, boys really don't know quite what to make of this, but we'll put it out to see what happens.


Well, there were no two people in the face of the planet more astounded than Billy and myself when that record went to number one on the UK charts for about three weeks. Divorcee.


Yeah. Did you stay in touch in recent years? Yes, I saw him. I saw him last last winter. I, I was touring in America and I went down to I made a point of going down to visit Billy in Key West where he now lives. He moved out of of of New York. He lived in Manhattan for a number of years. But the Parkinson's was really beginning to get to him. So I think for a lot of reasons to get to escape the kind of hurly burly of New York and to just kind of chill out a little bit.


He moved on to to Key West, where he now has a much more kind of relaxed kind of lifestyle. I was. Pleasantly surprised when he met me off of the plane to see that he was like very well coordinated, he was bright, the shakes were well under control. And we we spent a whole day chatting and reminiscing and singing songs. And he was just in great form. I think he was very pleased about the change in circumstances that had brought him down to Key West.


He goes up to New York to see his specialist every month. And whatever medication, whatever whatever regime that that the specialists believe, it definitely seems to be working. Now, I know that that this announcement about but the final the final stand up has just been made, but essentially essentially branded. I mean, Billy knew I mean, a couple of years ago that his touring that is touring was over. Yeah.


Yeah, that must be tough. But he has he's done it all with grace, grace, grace and dignity the whole last few years, hasn't he?


Entirely. I went to see his last those last gigs in Dublin and the and the audience where he sold out like five straight nights. And of course Billy being Billy has playin music. Everybody knew that he was battling this Parkinson's. His play on music was a whole lot of shakin going on. That was classic Billy Connolly. But, you know, at the end of his last of the last two those gigs in Dublin, there was a real outpouring of of just genuine, heartfelt emotion.


I mean, the audiences wouldn't let him leave the stage because they knew and he knew that was the last time they were going to see him perform. Yeah, yeah.


Tell me about the meeting of the dinosaurs before you go. I've never heard of this.


Oh, yeah. Billy was Billy was due in town. He was doing a bit of filming up in Ardmore. So it was generally my wife and said, you know, you should have Billy around for dinner. Then we just we discovered that, like Billy was saying, it was his it was, I think maybe his 17th birthday or maybe got time goes by anyway. So we set up a surprise for Billy. He arrived at my front door and me here thinking he was going to have dinner with Gerald, myself and our kids.


And I offered them into into the sitting room. And there to greet him was Christy Muir, Ralph McTell, Ronnie Drew, Paul Brady, Todd Egan, all the old dogs, Jim McCann. And it was McCain who christened that group of people, the Diner's Club, the dinosaurs.


Okay, listen, Faye Coulter, thanks a million Pottruck frame. Will you stay with us? Because we want to talk about one moment in time in a minute. And I know you're you're a fan. So let's take a quick break.


Email Brendan Ottati Desai.