Billy Connolly on dealing with Parkinson’s disease: Comedian says he has learnt to ‘hypnotise’ his hand when it shakes

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Sir Billy Connolly has told how he has taught himself to “hypnotise” his hand into becoming still when it shakes due to his Parkinson’s disease – and says he does not want the condition to be the “main topic” of his life.

The 79-year-old comedian retired from live performances in 2018 after being diagnosed with the condition five years earlier.

In 2019, Sir Billy said he hoped to perform again in some form, but last year told Sky News he was “finished with stand-up” as “you need a good brain for comedy”.

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‘More people should listen to comedians, fewer people should listen to politicians’ – watch our March 2020 interview with Sir Billy

Since the disease has progressed he has said he is no longer able to write letters.

In a new interview with the Radio Times, Sir Billy, who is also known as The Big Yin, said: “I’ve learnt to hypnotise my hand. I glare at it and it kinda quivers.

“I just stare at it, and eventually it stops. It’s quite a good trick. We love it.”

Reflecting on his condition, the comedian said it sometimes made him frustrated but he tries to remain positive.

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“I’ve never tried to cover up the illness,” he said. “I’m p*ssed off with it. It won’t go away. People are kinda chained to it. But I try to be cheery.”

The thing that “cheeses me off most”, Sir Billy said, is no longer being able to write. “I loved writing letters, but now my writing is illegible,” he said. “My collection of fountain pens and ink is redundant. It’s a pain in the bum.”

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However, the star said he was determined to get on with his life – and that he is not a fan of Parkinson’s help groups.

“It’s weird, it’s a kind of social disease,” he said. “They seem to like meeting up, having lunch. I can’t imagine talking about it all day. I don’t want it being the main topic of my life.”

Sir Billy, who wrote his autobiography, Windswept And Interesting, after retiring from stand-up, also said he had been watching his old performances back.

“I like it, I really do,” he said. “It’s like watching somebody else. I don’t relate to it. It’s like I’m disembodied; it’s a lovely feeling.”

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