Desperate times call for desperate measures. Billy Connolly, the iconic Scottish stand-up comedian and actor, has volunteered to become a “guinea pig” for Parkinson’s research. The news comes from his book, which is being serialized by The Daily Mail. “I’ve spoken to guys working on [stem cell research] at Harvard and told them I’ll be a guinea pig for them,” he writes. “I think they are going to take me up on it.”
The Boondock Saints star successfully recovered from prostate cancer in 2013 only to discover he has Parkinson’s disease. He exhibited early signs when he was forgetting lines during his stand-up performances like the cruelest practical joke the Devil could conjure. Connolly, 75, says the disease is the first thing he thinks about every day. “The thing that I find hardest is coming to grips with the fact that it’s never going to go away,” he told the Mail.
Despite the disease, Connolly managed to release a new stand-up film Billy Connolly: High Horse Tour Live filmed during a UK tour. He’s been fairly quiet otherwise. Even his acting has stalled. His last role was in Wild Oats, also in 2016. A diagnosis such as Parkinson’s reminds us that there is more to life than stand-up (although some diehards may say otherwise) and that disease, in particular, is extra cruel because it can rob a performer of their craft like a much sadder version of when Grandpa can’t remember how the joke ends. The stage will still be here when he’s ready. For now, we at Laughspin wish The Big Yin all the luck in the world.