Members of a 2,000-strong audience have expressed their shock after comedian Billy Connolly told an award-winning photographer she was “a fucking c**t”.
The comedian verbally abused Valerie O’Sullivan, the in-house photographer at the INEC, as she took pictures of him performing at the venue in Killarney, Co Kerry on Thursday night.
Despite having permission from both the comedian’s management and the venue to take pictures, Connolly rounded on the photographer.
According to members of the audience Ms O’Sullivan was sitting on the steps about halfway down the auditorium when the comedian made some remarks about photographers making money out of him.
They reported hearing him telling her to “get the fuck out of here” and calling her a “fucking c**t”.
A clearly distressed Ms O’Sullivan, who left the venue in tears, was too upset to talk to reporters yesterday.
However, several people in the audience went on social media afterwards to voice their strong disapproval of Connolly’s behaviour.
Caroline O’Sullivan, who was sitting near the photographer with her husband Sean, said Connolly used terrible language.
“I could only describe it as an abusive tirade. It was shocking,” Ms O’Sullivan, from Killarney, told the Irish Examiner.
“Initially, some members of the audience thought it was part of the show, but they soon realised this one woman was being singled out for an absolutely mortifying and appalling experience.”
INEC manager Tadhg Moriarty said they’d received a number of comments and feedback which they had passed on to Connolly’s management and the INEC deeply regretted the upset caused to Ms O’Sullivan.
“We hold Valerie in the highest regard and consider her a valuable friend and a fantastic photographer,” he said.
“We have contacted her directly and we do hope she knows the esteem in which we hold her.”
Last night a spokeswoman for Connolly’s management company, Tickety-boo, said she was not making any comment on the matter.
The comedian declined to speak to reporters as he arrived for a sellout performance of his ‘Man Live Tour’ at Cork Opera House last night.
He waved to one fan who had shouted his name as he was ushered into a side door of the venue by his driver and two security personnel.
Billy’s ‘obnoxious’ tirade provokes online backlash
Billy Connolly’s comments to photographer Valerie O’Sullivan provoked a deluge of reaction online.
Some of the comments posted on Billy Connolly’s own official Facebook page:
- Susan Keating: Disgraceful behavior by Billy in INEC Killarney tonight....he lost a lot of fans in Kerry.
- Cathy Scannell: Hi Billy I was at your show on May 2nd at the INEC in Killarney. The way you spoke to the woman in the audience was absolutely awful. So very disappointed in you. Way over the top to the point of being embarrassing both for the woman and a high percentage of the audience I would say. I do not go to any performance to watch members of the audience being humiliated like that and I will not be going to any of your shows again.
- Carol Carroll: Have to say Billy Connolly was on my bucket list; have waited years to see him. But was left with a bitter taste in my mouth after the very rude and unnecessary treatment of an audience member, which dampened the atmosphere quickly. He even made the comment to the point that ‘ye are very quiet after my going off earlier’, he was right, he knew he fecked up but wasn’t man enough to apologise.
A selection of the comments posted on the INEC Facebook page:
- Paula Bartlett: Well what a disappointment!! Could not believe his rudeness to Valerie O’Sullivan. Walked out. Shameful behaviour!!
- Caroline O’Sullivan: Billy Connolly was way off tonight .... He crossed a line and lost a lot of fans because of his behaviour towards Valerie... Some tirade ... Bad start to show, met a lot of people afterwards who felt let down... Fame doesn’t give anyone the right to be so obnoxious.
- Joe O’Leary: Very disappointing show. 3 maybe 4 good laughs and that was it. Shameful start!
Many people have also posted comments on Valerie O’Sullivan’s own Facebook page:
- Mike Leane: Was at the INEC last night, his reaction was totally uncalled for. Will not be wasting money on him again, cranky old man.
- Deirdre Walsh: Val, just wanted to add my voice to all the comments re Billy Connolly. I’d have walked out if I was there. You are so popular and so well respected in this county — as well as being a talented photographer and a decent human being. xx
- Helen Fitzgerald: Val sorry to hear about what happened last night what a knob. I wasn’t there, but I certainly won’t be going to see him if he’s here again, head high Val girl, rise above this little man.
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