Billy: My 'terrifying' memory loss

'I feel like I'm losing my mind'

Billy Connolly has told an audience that he's suffering ‘terrifying’ memory losses while on stage.

Performing at Waterfront Hall in Belfast last night, the 70-year-old acknowledged losing his train of thought between routines, reportedly declaring: 'This is fucking terrifying. I feel like I'm going out of my mind.'

According to the Daily Record, 'each time his memory failed him, he either started a new story or said: “This is fucking awful. I can't remember what I was saying. I get wee gaps and just stop.”'

The Scot, who was openly referring to a set list, twice asked the audience to remind him what he was talking about, as he has often done in recent years.

He also seemed to know when the memory losses were about to happen, saying: 'Here comes another one now.'

Connolly made light of the situation by sharing an anecdote about former US president Ronald Reagan's Alzheimer's, recalling how the pair had been at a charity function and the latter had paused mid-sentence for several seconds before resuming. 'He just carried on as if nothing had happened.'

An audience member at the Belfast show, Peter Sullivan, was quoted as saying: 'He’s a comedy hero and it was obvious from the audience on Saturday night that they’d forgive him just about anything and that includes his memory loss. It didn’t do anything to affect the show.

'People seemed very sympathetic when he had those attacks on stage and the audience just wanted him to keep going.They sort of carried him to the next joke and punchline. It was brilliant.'

In 2012, Connolly wrote on his blog: 'I always saw myself working till I was old. I thought that's what comedians did and I still feel they should. When people ask me why I'm still doing it, I say because it's my job; they don't say to painters, you must have a few bob now, why are you still doing it?

'The trouble is that you spend the money. I spend an awful lot of money living this funny lifestyle because it makes me very happy and it makes my family all jolly and happy. So I'll keep doing it until I die, or until people get fed up with me or something.'

Connolly's problems with memory loss have been attributed to his heavy drinking at the start of his career by his wife Pamela Stephenson.

- by Jay Richardson

Published: 22 Apr 2013

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