Billy Connolly at the Royal George: Live review
"Interesting things tend not to have punchlines," said Scottish comedian Billy Connolly midway through his set last night at the Royal George. Wait, did I just call it a set? There was no set and there were no punchlines. Clocking in at just under two and a half hours, a sprightly Connolly waxed effusive on everything from farting huskies to Whoopi Goldberg licking a cat's ass and barely a joke was delivered.
Darting around stage in a pair of black-and-white striped pants and gesticulating wildly when appropriate, Connolly's show last night can only aptly be compared to the film Inception. Stay with me on this one. Connolly, for example, would start to spin a yarn about Chicago skyscrapers only to segue into another story about the Pope only to segue into a story about a hurricane in Hawaii and on and on until we were four or five stories deep and without a single resolution to any.
This story within a story within a story format yielded heaps of rewarding moments. His rant about the Pope for example, allowed the Scotsman a sweet tale about how his granddaughter calls him the Poke and also gave Connolly the chance to fire off plenty of zingers about the pontiff ("Hello holy father, shagged any children lately?") while also revealing his deep knowledge about the Catholic church. Connolly discussed the entomology of common phrases like brand new (the phrase was originally 'bran new,' because breakable items were often packed in bran) and because Connolly is a world traveler, his narratives took us from downtown Chicago to the Arctic Circle to Belfast to Kuaui to Australia and Mozambique. Whoa!
It was really a dizzying tour de force and one that I suspect won't be repeated verbatim for the remainder of Connolly's Chicago run (which was recently extended to included October 14-16). Connolly, for example, frequently referenced stories that he forgot to talk about the night before while also pouncing on audience members. "Where the fuck have you been?" he asked one late comer. "Are you the queen?" he said to a woman he suddenly noticed in the balcony. Very few audience movements went unnoticed.
I regret slightly that the show teetered close to the 150 minute mark (I was afraid to use the loo for fear that he'd call me out on it), but at 68, Connolly has plenty of stories to share and I didn't want to miss a single one of them. Long story short, the show has been given an additional three-night run which means you're out of excuses. Go see it.