Hot Press - - Critical Mass -

SSE Arena, Belfast, Fe­bru­ary 11 and 12;

3Arena, Dublin, Fe­bru­ary 16-18

One of the most ground­break­ing and in­flu­en­tial stand-up per­form­ers of all time, Billy Con­nolly’s se­ries of Ir­ish dates un­doubt­edly rank amongst the com­edy high­lights of the year. De­spite re­cent health con­cerns, the Big Yin’s live shows are still hugely vi­brant af­fairs and – true to form – he has even mined his ail­ments for ma­te­rial.

Dubbed the High Horse tour, the Glaswe­gian’s lat­est ex­cur­sion is filled with the usual sharp ob­ser­va­tional ma­te­rial and sur­real di­gres­sions, and a gen­er­ous quo­tient of bril­liant one-lin­ers (“I know a Scot­tish guy who loved his wife so much he ac­tu­ally told her one day.”)

Hav­ing re­cently lo­cated to the US, Con­nolly – cited as an influence by ev­ery­one from Armando Ian­nucci to Eddie Iz­zard – has been keep­ing a keen eye on the next gen­er­a­tion of comics, and lately de­scribed Mighty Boosh star Noel Field­ing’s brand of com­edy as “lovely and smash­ing”.

The proud owner of a seat for life at Celtic’s Park­head sta­dium

(an honour shared only by Rod Ste­wart), the comic has also stayed busy with ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tivites, and had a no­table cameo in the fi­nal in­stal­ment of the Hob­bit se­ries, 2014’s The Bat­tle Of The

Five Armies. None­the­less, it’ll be all about top drawer com­edy when Con­nolly hits Ire­land in mid-Fe­bru­ary, for what is sure to be a mem­o­rable week of shows.

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