Release: 14th November 2016
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Hailed as the UK’s most influential comedian of all time, the legend returns in his ‘High Horse Tour’! .
Billy Connolly, “The Big Yin”, has been a bubble works of mirth some 40+ years now. Forget Peter Sellers, Ricky Gervais, Jennifer Saunders or the Monty Python crowd, he is without a doubt the most iconic, influential and consistently brilliant comedian to hail from British shores. You might even suggest that Billy Connolly is bigger than Chaplin! With the recent tragic news of his battle with prostate cancer AND Parkinson’s disease (both of which he skilfully riffs on in this stand-up), it seemed inevitable that the world might lose yet another life affirming treasure. So it makes Connolly’s latest work, The High Horse Tour, an all-the-more bittersweet experience, as for the first time we come to realise that someone who is immortalised in our minds might not be around much longer. It’s a morbid, and frankly unnecessary, thought pattern though, as from the moment he shuffles on stage, Connolly proves that this is no swan song. In fact, The High Horse Tour, might be some of Connolly’s best work to date.
Opening with a purposely frail retort to the crowd’s deafening applause – “you’re only doing that because I’m not well.” – Connolly rides a wave of easy familiar banter with his audience. That celebrated furnace of indignation burns feverishly, as Connolly takes aim at what he call the “Brown Bread Brigade”, and gleefully jokes about the time a man died during one of his musical performances. He recounts tales of his lunatic cousin and their antics at youth hostels – you’ll forever be checking your banana skins – his famous multi-narrative jokes run for miles, and there is a story about a cat that will destroy your ribs. For a man who barely moves from one spot, Connolly commands laughter the way all great comedians do; through great storytelling.
In spite of Connolly’s triumphant presence, there is still an element of the sad clown about him, which hasn’t always been there. Although he jokes of “symptom spotting”, and offers some genuinely funny observations about his own illness, you can sense the Parkinson’s disease wearing the beloved Connolly down throughout his performance. All the laughs Connolly earns are never offered in pity, but his closing monologue about a plane journey in Africa is far from his best work, and hardly the righteous summary such a great show (or man) deserves. This being said, no comedian is going to hit a homerun with every joke, and considering the context of his latest performance, it is even more amazing how frequently Connolly can conjure up unforgettable laughs.
Billy Connolly has proven yet again that he is still the rightful king of comedy, and The High Horse Tour should be THE go to gift for any stand-up fans with decent taste. There will be no need for Connolly to do another show after this one, but as he proves time and again here, when you’re this funny why stop now?
Film Grade: A-
Not available at time of going to press.
A perfect little bit of Connolly’s legacy.