The Scotsman 9 May 2023

Gary McNair likes a long subtitle. The one he has come up with for his latest one-man show is A Love Letter To The Big Yin From The People Of Scotland. That sums up his ambitions for the production, which celebrates the nation’s fondness for one of its greatest comedians. It is a fondness that straddles generations, transcends classes and that McNair finds in seemingly everyone he meets. The show expresses that affection. It is called Dear Billy.

“It felt like everyone knew a story,” says McNair, thinking back to how he came to make a show about Billy Connolly. “Whenever I’d meet people, they’d tell you their Billy stories, whether they’d met him or they knew a piece of his material or what it was like to be a fan of his when they were wee. You’d get a personal response every time and a very positive one.”

In the popular imagination, Billy Connolly is in a place of his own. After his days on the folk circuit, performing with the Humblebums in the late 60s and then as a solo act, he developed his between-song banter into his own brand of loquacious stand-up comedy. Lauded in his native Glasgow, where he had worked as a shipyard boilermaker, he was championed by Michael Parkinson on his eponymous chat show and began the journey to becoming a national treasure. [READ MORE]

By Mark Fisher

MARK FISHER is a freelance theatre critic and feature writer based in Edinburgh and has written about theatre in Scotland since the late-1980s. He is a theatre critic for The Guardian, a former editor of The List magazine and a frequent contributor to the Scotsman and other publications. He is the co-editor of the play anthology Made in Scotland (1995), and the author of The Edinburgh Fringe Survival Guide (2012) and How to Write About Theatre (2015) – all Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. He is also the editor of The XTC Bumper Book of Fun for Boys and Girls and What Do You Call That Noise? An XTC Discovery Book (both Mark Fisher Ltd).