There were times throughout Billy Connolly’s performance of his “High Horses” standup tour at the Warner Theater on Saturday, May 14 where a map could have come in handy, but I was too busy laughing to care. Armed with a series of anecdotes, that he swears – and I wish – were true, Connolly hopped from joke to joke, often going in tangents that could last five minutes, only to return like a boomerang to the original thread. It might’ve been a distraction, if each story had not been as hilariously enjoyable as the one before it.
Many of you might know Connolly best from his supporting role in the cult classic filmThe Boondock Saints, but may not be as aware of his long and storied career as a standup comedian. But those who showed up at the Warner Theater last Saturday sure did. It was clear walking through the atrium, and from the cheers when Connolly referred to specific areas of his native Scotland, that his performance brought many of his countrymen out to the theater. But it didn’t matter whether they were natives of Glasgow or Capitol Hill – all were able to enjoy his unique stories.
Connolly joked about a breadth of topics, from the obligatory Trump joke with his outsider’s perspective – long story short, how has this “wanker” made it this far – to his annoyance with the person who handled the weapons on the set of The Boondock Saints.
What made his standup a real treat, though, is the honesty that he shared with the audience. The first instance was his acknowledgement of his health. Connolly is dealing with Parkinson’s disease, and as he revealed in his act, he also found out – on the same day, he said – that he had prostate cancer. He revealed it not to make a joke, but more as a way to be straight with the audience. He did find a way to use it in his favor, however, by telling some truly memorable stories. And it is his experiences that truly made the show. He hasn’t crafted jokes; these were stories from his life and career, and he retold them with a heightened sense of humor.
But it’s not just his stories that made it such an honest performance. Connolly couldn’t help himself from cracking up on multiple occasions throughout the night. Whether it was his recollection of the absurdity of his stories, or the sound effects and voices he used to help convey them, he’s having as good a time as any on the stage. It was infectious.
You can go to almost any comedian’s show and be pretty sure that you are going to have some good laughs, but what made Connolly’s performance such a treat was the wide-ranging journey that he took the audience on.