I’ve never seen the point in Billy Connolly. Throughout my formative years, I kept being assured — usually by my esteemed chat show colleague Sir Michael Parkinson during their regular jousts on BBC1 — that he was the funniest man alive. But I didn’t find him remotely amusing. In fact, I’d go further. I found his whole ‘Big Yin’ persona about as entertaining as being poked repeatedly with an electric steel cattle prod.
So it was fascinating to discover today that I’ve always had exactly the same effect on him.
In a newspaper interview, Connolly declared: ‘There are very few people I disapprove of. People like Piers Morgan, who fail upwards.’
Asked why he disliked me, he snorted: ‘Because I think he’s a talentless w***er, and he goes from strength to strength on the backs of other talentless w***ers.’ This seemed a tad obtuse given that my interview subjects this year included the Dalai Lama, Bill Clinton, Barbra Streisand, Usain Bolt and Morgan Freeman.
But then I guess it depends on how you define ‘talent’. Connolly is said to be a ‘talented’ comedian, for example. Yet his idea of ‘humour’ was to go on stage in London in 2004, when hostage Ken Bigley was being threatened with beheading in Iraq, and mock: ‘Perhaps I shouldn’t be saying this — aren’t you the same as me, don’t you wish they would just get on with it?’ Days later, Ken Bigley’s captors did ‘get on with it’ and beheaded the poor man.
Since then, Connolly’s career has nose-dived to the point where he was heckled off stage twice last year during a critically savaged tour. And, ironically, to the point where I have simply no interest in interviewing him because he’s become, for want of a better phrase, a talentless w***er. Country for Whiny British Men’, ‘Rebel Without A Clue’, ‘Careerfall’ and ‘America’s Just Not That Into You’. After a member of my staff retaliated with ‘We Love Piers, Actually’, I hit back myself with two titles: ‘Born ( With Natural British) Supremacy’ and the more pertinent ‘Stop Gun’. Shopping in Manhattan this morning, I entered Ralph Lauren and spied a familiar figure buying some clothes.
‘ Mr Schwa rzenegger!’ I exclaimed.
‘ Mr Morga n! ’ Ar nol d exclaimed back. We exchanged yuletide pleasantries, and I couldn’t resist tweeting about our encounter afterwards — admitting: ‘Only saying this to name-drop really.’ Three hours later, Schwarzenegger retweeted me with the immortal words: ‘Here’s MY name-drop — great to see YOU today.’ I’ve flown back into Britain for Christmas, and convened an urgent meeting for like-minded souls tonight at my local Kensington pub.
‘A week ago I was on stage with sporting superstars,’ tweeted BBC Sports Personality Of The Year host Gary Lineker, on his way to the venue. ‘ This Sunday it’s Xmas drinks with Piers Morgan. Where did it all go wrong?’
‘ Last week, I was partying at the White House with President Obama,’ I retor ted. ‘ Tonight I’m having drinks with Gary Lineker…’
We were joined by a brace of Strictly stars, Bruno Tonioli and Claudia Winkleman, a brace of