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Paperback; good condition; slight wear to edges // American audiences only know Billy Connolly-if they know him at all-from his HBO comedy specials, or from his role opposite Judi Dench in Mrs. Brown. But Connolly is one of England's most popular and infamous comedians. This biography, written by his wife, explains why. Connolly broke into show biz in the late 1960s with a banjo-comedy routine that he performed in Glasgow pubs. By the end of the '70s, Connolly was booking sold-out shows all around England and appearing frequently on TV and film. His antics were notorious: he looked like a hippie, swore like a sailor (he used "the 'f' word in every single sentence and double on Sundays") and drank incredible amounts of liquor (he named his comedy tours after his drink du jour: the gin tour, the brandy tour, etc.). He was also prone to singing songs like "What Does a Scotsman Wear Under His Kilt" to the tune of "Blowin' in the Wind." But, Stephenson argues, there was considerable pain behind Connolly's headline-grabbing behavior. As a child, he was abandoned by his mother and raised in a slum, subject to physical and sexual abuse from relatives. It's Connolly's past, and his strength in overcoming it, that rescues this book. What could have been a humdrum biography turns into a triumph of the will, an Angela's Ashes with punch lines. Apart from an annoying tendency to name-drop American celebrities who just adore Billy, Stephenson admirably describes a man who manages to be very funny despite very unfunny beginnings.