He's ill. He's human. The news that he is battling two major health fears came as a wake-up call to everyone who thought the Big Yin was a comedy immortal
It's a real shock to discover this legend, this larger-than-life figure, a creature with the power to blow the roof off packed theatres (metaphorically, of course), is now being partially contained by the cruel twists of nature.
Billy Connolly's life has been about great laughter, great waves of empathy, great emotional connections with the friends and fans who've been fortunate to see him perform both on and off stage.
It's also been about darkness, about anger and about finding resolution.
But because we're so used to seeing his greatness, at times his largesse, it's a shock to realise he can be visited by the vagaries of ill health like everyone else.
But is it a such a shock?
The last time Billy took to a Glasgow stage, it was in December last year to accept a Bafta Scotland award for his Outstanding Contribution to Television and Film, and his entrance was far from dynamic.
He didn't arrive like the hurricane, the force of nature we've come to recognise over the years.
He seemed to walk out in front of the 500-strong crowd a little gingerly, almost shuffling.
His hands were not outstretched in the manner of a returning king greeting his subjects, but clasped in front of him, as if for security, for comfort.
And when he spoke, the voice wasn't the voice of a man who more often than not bellows, taunts, torments - and then leaves you helpless.
This was the soft voice of a considered man, a man who was taking his time with his words, to make sure he communicated in an entirely heartfelt way.
What was also revealing, and astonishing, was that Billy Connolly cried during the on-stage interview.
He cried when he talked about his love for Glasgow.
"It hits me somewhere where I live," he said, in a soft, struggling voice.
He cried because he was a man acknowledging that he was back in the city which had created him.
At the time, the tears were explained as that of a man ageing, coming to appreciate the debt he owed to this immediate world.
And that was most certainly true.
But looking back, and it's easy to say with hindsight, but there were real signs Billy Connolly had already had an intimation of his own mortality.
The strutting confidence was gone.
The arrogance of youth had vanished.
If he had ever taken for granted his place in the pantheon of Scots stars, if he had ever assumed (rightly) that he's one of the funniest men in the world, never mind Scotland, that feeling was never in evidence.
Perhaps we should remind ourselves that Billy is now 70, and for the first few decades of his life he was less than careful with his health.
What was visible at the Bafta ceremony was a humble, thankful man who was genuinely moved by the fact his peers had chosen to honour this global citizen in the city which he once called home.
Billy was still hilarious of course.
"I get lots of nominations," he said, smiling.
"But no awards. I'm like the guy in the remedial class who gets the prize for being kind."
He still could make an audience dissolve with laughter.
But this connection was gentle, warm and reasoned.
He was reaching us on a whole new level. We'll have to get used to this new, more gentle Billy.
But, who knows, perhaps he'll be an even better Billy.