Billy Connolly has reportedly told an audience he felt terrified as he struggled with memory loss on stage during a comedy gig.
The 70-year-old comedian and actor was performing at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast when he was repeatedly struck by memory lapses and had to be reminded what he was talking about, according to the Daily Record.
Billy apparently told the audience: “This is f***ing terrifying. I feel like I’m going out of my mind.”
The Scottish comic’s traditional style is to flow aimlessly from one funny story to another, but he reportedly lost track of what he was saying several times – and twice asked the audience to remind him what he had been talking about.
Like many performers he had a list of subjects written on a sheet of paper with him on the stage, and several times he openly referred to it, complaining about his memory problem.
Billy is said to have told the crowd: “This is f***ing awful. I can’t remember what I was saying. I get wee gaps and just stop.”
He reportedly seemed to know when the memory lapses were about to happen, telling the audience: “Here comes another one now,” and bowed his head and waited for them to pass.
But the audience cheered their support for Billy and encouraged him to keep going. He even made a joke of the situation with a tale about former US president Ronald Reagan, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, losing track of what he was saying while holding court at a public event.
One audience member, Peter Sullivan, told the newspaper: “He’s a comedy hero and it was obvious from the audience on Saturday night that they’d forgive him just about anything and that includes his memory loss.
“It didn’t do anything to affect the show. People seemed very sympathetic when he had those attacks on stage and the audience just wanted him to keep going. They sort of carried him to the next joke and punchline. It was brilliant.”