Sir Billy Connolly: I'd be cancelled if I started out in comedy today

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·2 min read
Billy Connolly photographed after an interview with the Press Association at the Westbury Mayfair Hotel, London, United Kingdom. 29th July 2019
Billy Connolly has said he would be cancelled if he started out in comedy today. (PA)

Sir Billy Connolly has said he believes he would be 'cancelled' if he started out in comedy today.

The 78-year-old retired comedian, actor and musician - who began his stand-up career in the late 70s after starting out as a folk singer and actor - has said he thinks political correctness and woke culture is hindering comedy because comics are worried about upsetting somebody.

Asked if he thinks he would 'cancelled' in the current climate Sir Billy told New Zealand’s radio network Newstalk ZB: "Absolutely."

Read more: Ricky Gervais says he was joking about 'The Office' getting cancelled

He went on: "You can’t decide to be fearless. You’re either fearless or you’re not and you go about it.

Sir Billy Connolly after he received his Honorary Doctorate degree from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
Sir Billy Connolly after he received his Honorary Doctorate from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow in 2017. (PA)

“Because of political correctness, people have pulled in the horns, but I don’t know how I feel about that. I couldn’t have started today with the talent I had then; certainly not.”

The Scottish star - who lives in Florida - blamed TV executives, saying: "They have got no bravery. We need people who give people time and a chance to develop and all that kind of stuff.”

He added: “I think things have changed forever [with political correctness] but you never know.”

Sir Billy said he had offended “most religions” in his BBC series, Billy and Us, which aired in 2020.

He said: “I didn’t set out to do that, but they take offence so easily. All you have to do is talk about them and what they do and they will find offence in it. It’s because they know they are a bit ridiculous. You will never hear them saying that, so they will attack you.”

Sir Billy Connolly with his wife Pamela Stephenson after being knighted by the Duke of Cambridge during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London.
Sir Billy Connolly with his wife Pamela Stephenson after being knighted in 2017. (PA)

The Glasgow-born comic is currently promoting his new autobiography Windswept and Interesting, due to be published on October 14 by John Murray Press.

Read more: Alan Carr: I quit Twitter because of the cancel culture

Sir Billy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and prostate cancer in 2013. He continued to tour before officially announcing he was retiring from live stand-up comedy in 2016.

In 2019 he revealed in a BBC documentary that his battle with Parinkson’s Disease - a neurological condition which effects body movement - was starting to impact on all aspects of his life as a performer.

Watch: Sir Billy Connolly discusses retiring from stand-up

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