When he first started out in the late 1960s, Connolly played the banjo in the folk clubs of Scotland. Between songs, he would improvise a bit, telling anecdotes from the Clyde shipyard where he'd worked.

In the process, he made all kinds of discoveries about what audiences found funny, from his own brilliant mimes to the power of speaking irreverently about politics or explicitly about sex. He began to understand the craft of great storytelling.

Soon the songs became shorter and the monologues longer, and Connolly quickly became recognised as one of the most exciting comedians of his generation.

His routines always felt spontaneous. He never wrote scripts, always creating his comedy freshly on stage in the presence of a live audience. A brilliant comic story might be subsequently discarded, adapted or embellished. A quick observation or short anecdote one night could become a 20-minute segment by the next night of a tour.

Connolly always brought a beautiful sense of the absurd to his shows as he riffed on his family, hecklers, swimming in the North Sea or naked bungee jumping. But his comedy could be laced with anger too.

He hates pretentiousness and calls out hypocrisy wherever he sees it. His insights about the human condition shocked many people, while his unique talent and startling appearance on stage gave him licence to say anything he damn well pleased about sex, politics or religion.

He got away with it because he has always had the popular touch. His comedy spans generations and different social tribes in a way that few others have ever managed.

"Tall Tales and Wee Stories" brings together the very best of his storytelling for the first time and includes his most famous routines including The Last Supper, Jojoba Shampoo, Incontinence Pants and Shouting at Wildebeest.

With an introduction and original illustrations by Connolly throughout, it is an inspirational, energetic and riotously funny read, and a fitting celebration of this great comedian.

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