If I were to write a proper review of Billy Connolly’s show at the Royal George last night it would include liberal usage of the F-word. However, if I did, this post would get blocked and I would get a phone call from my mother haranguing me for my atrocious use of the English language. We Americans, as the Scotsman pointed out, have a Puritan sensibility about the word and it’s strictly forbidden in polite society. Generally I agree; there are so many words to choose from why limit yourself to one that evokes alternatingly rage or vulgarity or any other host of undesirable traits?
Because it’s F-ing funny. At least when used by an expert.
Connolly specifically commented on this talent. To use profanity without sounding like a bloody wanker there’s got to be a rhythm. And he definitely had rhythm, not just in his use of the types of words that kept Lifebuoy in business, but in his show as a whole. He’d start a story and then leave it for another, and then another, until you felt like you were in the middle of a Pachinko machine. He joked that he’d be leaving “bits of stories all over the stage” and you wondered if, maybe, he would. Now that he’s 67 years old you might wonder if he was getting just a bit senile, but then he’d take you back to the first story and reference the third one and remind you not to let him forget about the second. Genius.
Like true comedic geniuses, his humor is not based on the punchline, although he had a few. (“It’s always in the last place you look.” “Of COURSE it is!”) It’s grounded in keen observation and a gift of storytelling that keeps you from noticing that it’s been two hours and he’s barely taken a breath and you really have to go to the bathroom. It’s the genius that has you laughing at things that you would never, ever admit that you found amusing, because normally you don’t – it’s only funny in that situation told that way. By that man.
And if you don’t think so? I know exactly what he’d tell you, in his charming Scottish accent with an ornery look in his eye and a flip of his thinning Celtic hair: