Page last updated at 12:18 GMT, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Billy Connolly claims British comedy is 'too censored'

Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly does not believe comedians should be censored

Billy Connolly has spoken out against censorship, complaining that comedians who swear on stage are unfairly branded "vulgarian and foul mouthed".

The star, who is currently performing a string of stand-up dates at London's Hammersmith Apollo, said comedy was not about causing offence to people.

"I don't offend, that's not my job. My job is to make people laugh," he said.

The 67-year-old added: "There's a lot of deep and desperate unfairness been going on."

The BBC was recently criticised over several jokes on the comedy news quiz Mock the Week and Jonathan Ross was accused of homophobia after joking, on his Radio 2 show, that parents should put sons who ask for a Hannah Montana MP3 player up for adoption.


Connolly himself is no stranger to controversy, after he was criticised in 2004 for making a joke about British hostage Kenneth Bigley - prior to his murder in Iraq - on stage.

He has always maintained he was misquoted over the content of the joke.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 live from Tuesday's South Bank Awards, he said: "I think it was (US comedian) George Carlin who said, 'the job of a comedian is to know where the line is and to step over it'.

"We will dictate where that line is and where it should be.

"If you swear in a book, you're some kind of clever guy, if you swear in a poem, oh how dangerous he is, you swear in a song - oh my God, what a groundbreaker!

"You swear as a comedian, and you're a vulgarian and foul mouthed.

"When did this happen? Who's doing the judging?"

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