When Billy Connolly takes to the stage at the Waterfront Hall tonight for the latest in a series of sold-out Belfast gigs he’ll be hoping he remembers the punchlines to his jokes.
After losing his train of thought on a number of occasions during a show on Saturday the Glaswegian comedian told his Northern Ireland fans that he experiences memory loss or “wee gaps” as he put it.
The 70-year-old suffered several mental blanks on stage and told the Waterfront crowd it was “f****** terrifying” and “I feel like I’m going out of my mind”.
One audience member told the Daily Mirror there is such affection for the veteran funnyman nobody cared that he lost his way.
Peter Sullivan, from Co Down, said: “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.”
The Big Yin, as he is known, is back on the Waterfront stage tonight and tomorrow, so he may experience the same problem, as Saturday was not a one-off.
On April 5, Connolly told the Waterfront audience the same thing about his memory and made a joke of having to refer to a sheet of paper with notes on it.
Last night, Kevin Hawkins from Holywood, who was at that gig, told the Belfast Telegraph the comedian’s memory issues are getting in the way of his ability to deliver the sort of performance people expect.
“To be honest I was disappointed with the show,” Kevin said.
“He repeatedly couldn’t remember the punchlines of jokes.
“He kept forgetting where he was in the story.
“He used it as part of the gig, saying how old he was getting and kind of used that as a theme.
“Something is up. I’ve seen him twice before, the latest occasion was four years ago, and that gig was great.
“He was full of energy and very funny.”
It is normal to become a bit forgetful as you get older. However, memory loss could be a symptom of something more serious and should be checked by a GP. Memory loss, also called amnesia, could be something that happened only seconds or minutes ago, or a memorable event that happened in the past. Memory loss can be distressing, for the person affected as well as for their family. Relatives may fear the worst and assume it's caused by dementia, but this often isn't the case.