Billy Connolly retires from stand-up: Elton John, Dustin Hoffman and more pay tribute to 'first rock star of comedy'

The Scottish star is stepping down from the stage after battling Parkinson's disease for several years

A number of the entertainment industry's biggest names have paid tribute to Billy Connolly as he retired from stand-up comedy during a stirring new documentary.

The Scottish comedian, whose career charts five decades, opened up about stepping down from the stage in Billy Connolly: It's Been a Pleasure, which was broadcast on UK TV channel ITV on Monday.

The stand-up star, 78, had told fans earlier this year that he would retire due to his ongoing battle with Parkinson's disease, which he was diagnosed with in 2013.

"It's got me, it will get me and it will end me, but that's OK with me," Connolly said in the moving documentary.

“I have done my stand-up, I did it for 50 years, I did it quite well and it is time to stop. My illness has rendered me different. It would either mean renewing what I do and doing something else, or give up what I did and that’s what I’ve done."

The comedian, who is also known for roles in films such as The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and The Last Samurai, is celebrated for his offbeat, observational style of humour.

Since breaking on to the scene in the 1970s, Connolly has racked up a Bafta Lifetime Achievement Award, a knighthood and the top spot in numerous "best stand-ups" lists.

During Billy Connolly: It's Been a Pleasure, a number of the star's famous friends paid tribute to his lengthy and sparkling career, including Elton John, Whoopi Goldberg and Dustin Hoffman.

"I want him to be around for a long, long time," said Hoffman, who directed Connolly in 2012 film Quartet, while John called the stand-up "the first rock star of comedy".

Actress Sheridan Smith, who also appeared in Quartet, revealed she had even named her son, born earlier this year, Billy in the comedian's honour.

10 of Billy Connolly's best quips

1. "Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes. After that who cares? He's a mile away and you've got his shoes!"

2. "When people say 'it's always the last place you look', of course it is. Why would you keep looking after you've found it?"

3. “Marriage is a wonderful invention: then again, so is a bicycle repair kit.”

4. “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and winter.”

5. "I've always wanted to go to Switzerland to see what the army does with those wee red knives."

6. "My definition of an intellectual is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture without thinking of the Lone Ranger."

7. “When something is ‘new and improved!’ which is it? If it’s new, then there has never been anything before it. If it’s an improvement, then there must have been something before it.”

8. “I worry about ridiculous things, you know, how does a guy who drives a snowplough get to work in the morning … that can keep me awake for days.”

9. “My advice to you if you want to lose a bit of weight: don’t eat anything that comes in a bucket. Buckets are the kitchen utensils of the farmyard.”

10. “I once travelled to Adelaide on Emu Airways. I was 5,000 feet up in the air when someone pointed out to me that emus can’t fly.”

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