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Billy Connolly, 77, quits stand-up as he battles with Parkinson's disease: 'You need a good brain for comedy'

The comedy legend admitted that he sometimes walks "like a drunk man" because of his diagnosis and that his condition can limit him from doing small things like putting change back in his wallet
UPDATED MAR 19, 2020
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, on Thursday, confirmed his retirement from stand-up comedy citing his battle with Parkinson's disease. The 77-year-old revealed that he had been diagnosed with the degenerative disease in 2013 and although he said that he "may perform at some other point," he has now declared that he is "finished" with stand-up.

"I'm finished with stand-up - it was lovely and it was lovely being good at it. It was the first thing I was ever good at," he told Sky News. The comedian said that he is generally invited to multiple engagements with other Parkinson's sufferers, however, he turns down a lot of these events because he does not want the disease to "define" him.

"I'm always being asked to go to Parkinson's things and spend time with Parkinson's people, having lunch or something like that. And I don't approve of it," Connolly said. "I don't think you should let Parkinson's define you and all your pals be Parkinson's people. I don't think it's particularly good for you. So I don't do it."

The 77-year-old admitted that he sometimes walks "like a drunk man" because of his diagnosis and that his condition can limit him from doing small things like putting change back in his wallet, reports state.

Billy Connolly, winner of the Special Recognition award, speaks next to Dustin Hoffman at the 21st National Television Awards at The O2 Arena on January 20, 2016 in London, England. (Getty images)

"Certain things go wrong, your brain goes adrift and affects your body, and so you walk differently, you walk like a drunk man sometimes. And you're frightened you'll be judged on it. And you shake sometimes," he told the outlet.

Connolly, in 1970s, changed his career from folk singing to a full-time comedian. He made his theatrical debut in 1972 at the Cottage Theatre in Cumbernauld with a revue called Connolly's Glasgow Flourish. He also played the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Connolly, in 2007, was voted the greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Stand-Ups, and won the accolade again in a 2010 poll. 

After his Parkinson's diagnosis, he moved to Florida with his wife Pamela Stephenson fore treatment and took up a new career as an artist, with his art being sold for thousands of dollars.

The comedian, last year, admitted that his "hearing (was) going" and he could no longer think "at speed." "I may perform at some other point but I have no plans to. And I'm quite happy taking my medicine and getting along with it," he said. "I've started to drool which is a new one on me. This disease, it gives you a new thing every now and again that you have to deal with and drooling is my latest. I walk unsteadily and my hearing is going and it's bizarre that bits of me are falling off but it's interesting."

The comedian has two children from his first marriage and three from his marriage to Pamela.