Billy Connolly is a Comedian with an unparalleled career. He’s easily one of the most prolific and influential comedians to ever come out of Scotland– or anywhere. His candid long form story telling style has solidified his place as a cultural Icon and a pioneer of modern stand up comedy.
After a career spanning four decades that included countless movies, albums and world tours it was announced in 2016 he would be retiring as his diagnosis of Parkinson was beginning to impact his ability to preform.
Billy Connolly: The Sex Life of Bandages is Connolly’s farewell stand up special recorded live at the Sydney Opera house in 2015. The special will be played as a one night only feature in select cities across the U.K October 10th. And a slew of lucky Canadian fans were able to experience the film at its world premiere in Toronto as part of the JFL42 comedy festival. Neither Connolly nor the directors were in attendance.
The screening was held at an intimate luxurious cinema where patrons could order beer and food. The screening was only open to JFL 42 pass holders and had a real sense of occasion and importance. The opportunity to see this film first was not lost on the people in attendance, many of whom had seen Connolly perform the same material at Toronto stop of his farewell at Massey Hall in 2016.
The special begins with an interview portion where Connolly causally sits drinking tea, reminiscing about censorship, fame, and sex topics that in the past he has only commented on through his comedy. It is also in this portion he addressing his ailing health. “I think we are all a bit different. We have to acknowledge it and move on.” The special itsself is shot in a simple unpretentious style that is as seamless as its subject matter.
Connolly hits center on one of the most grand stages in the world, opting for a lavaliere mic instead of a handheld. There is a misdirection that he’s done that to facilitate movement, while Connolly remains so poised and so still. His movements as he delivers these beautifully crafted and crassly curated stories are so perfectly well intentioned, his body becomes an instrument of humour and it only takes the slightest move to illustrate his points, sending the massive crowd into stitches.
“I like to tell interesting things but the problem with that is they so rarely have punchlines.”
Connolly’s candour remains so steadfast he knows it is the bedrock of his humour. Rather than reach for relatability and downplay how famous he is, he addresses stories with rich details about how the mad prism of fame has refracted his life. Getting arrested for signing money at soccer games, being recognized at inopportune times, interactions with the homeless and what it’s really like to shoot a gun in a movie; all are interesting stories on their own but Connolly’s signature bluntness makes them devastatingly hilarious.
“I’ve always tried to be as funny as a normal person you see people laughing at at the pub.”
Connolly’s last stand has a liberal amount of low brow brazen bits about the duality of life. Dog farts, overly healthy people, and the man that won’t move at the airport are all taken to task with a mischievous flicker that indicates the flame of the Scottish shipyard where Connolly’s comedy was born still burns.
It has often been stated that Connolly’s gift as a raconteur can take the mundane and illustrate the Humour. The optimal example of this ability comes not in the form of a mudane story but a sad one, especially considering the circumstances. Connolly recounts a gig before fame during his days as a traveling musician, when a concert at a hospice happen to coincide with someone’s final moments of life. This story demonstrates a fearlessness and humour that not only addresses the elephant in the room but mounts it and rides it into the Scottish highlands.
The special’s titular bit, the sexlife of bandages, is the gemstone of the show. Satirizing fear of death with Connolly’s brand of self actuality that is unflinching and therefore un phased.
The sexlife of bandages is one of the greats drawing his comedic story to its conclusion on his own terms after a career that has distinguished what they are. For Connolly there has never been an alternative.
Whether you will get to see it is another matter entirely. The film opens on October 10th with select screenings in UK Cinemas and then travel to Ireland, Europe, Australia & NZ. What about us??? Somebody fix this.