Many years ago the comedian Billy Connolly produced a brilliant TV series, “Billy Connolly’s World Tour of Scotland”. Many of the stories in “Tale Tales and wee stories” are replays of some of the material from that series, and at its best the book takes you back to those shows; you can picture Billy delivering the lines, and remember how you cried with laughter…
Which is this book at its best.
I wonder how it was put together, though. I doubt it was ‘written’ in the traditional sense, with some of it culled from other material – such as the transcripts of Connolly’s shows and TV programmes. Other parts are clearly new. Having said that, some sections of the book appear to have been a struggle either way.
These cases seem all too clear to identify. Connolly says right up front that he likes to swear – and then goes on to prove the point. Don’t do a search on the word ‘f**k’ because you’ll be shocked how many times it comes up. Hundreds probably.
At his best, Connolly’s use of swearing – especially on stage – can be mightily funny. In the book, where segments are taken from the best parts of his shows these seem easy to spot. The words are funny on the page too. But where the writing appears new and seems to flow less well, there seems to have been a default to ‘over-swearing’ – and SHOUTING – in the belief it will make the text similarly hilarious. Often this just fails. It becomes no more than noise.
But if you can’t handle swearing, then don’t even try and read the book. And if you can, in places this will test you.
Overall I’m glad I read it – mainly because it reminded me of that old series, and how brutally funny Connolly can be.