HE is the Big Yin who has dedicated much of his life to making us all laugh till our sides split.

Now Sir Billy Connolly has told how he has used comedy to stay positive and cope with thoughts of dying.

The comedy legend, now 77, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013. And he said that while some people turn to religion or other “tricks” to deal with the inevitable, comedy was his release from “the terror of death”.

The Glasgow-born star, speaking in the final part of his BBC Scotland documentary 'Billy and Us', which airs on Thursday, has told how, as his condition worsens, he relies more on laughter to get through the grimmest moments.

He says: “The best way to deal with the dark side of life is to laugh right in its face. Death? Everybody knows it’s coming and people try all sorts of tricks, religion etcetera, to deal with it, but comedy can release you from your terror of death -- you can treat it lightly.

READ MORE: Billy Connolly: Why I'll never apologise over religion routine that caused uproar

“It’s like the big bully at school, you can say ‘I could beat him any day’, as long as he’s not there. You can kid that way and comedy will allow you to do that.”

Connolly has previously discussed his struggle with Parkinson’s and last year told how he could feel himself “slipping away.” The disease also had an impact on his stage performances.

Speaking in Billy and Us, he reveals how he refuses to accept pessimistic attitudes and uses laughter to attack his condition “head on”.

He said: “Now that I’m getting older and sicker, it’s important that my comedy kicks in.

“I went to a doctor in New York and he was a Russian, and he said ‘You realise it’s an incurable disease?’ and I said ‘Oh come on, behave yourself. Instead of saying it’s incurable, say we have yet to find a cure. It gives me a wee light at the end of the tunnel.

“I was telling some people I’ve started to drool, which is a new one on me. I never knew how to deal with it, so I’ve come to the conclusion that women find drooling attractive and there’s a woman who has a new record out that only I have heard; ‘I love a man with a shiny chin’.”

He even poked fun at his own illness at the end of his most recent run of stand up performances by playing out with a 1950s rock n roll classic.

He added: “I ended my shows with ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ on’. You’ve got to attack it head on. As far as I’m concerned, shaking is the new cool.”

The programme also features highlights from Connolly’s ground-breaking routines about death, illness and even incontinence, which he said had the power to make the world a better place.

He said: “I’ve done a lot of stuff like that, where I’ve got rid of my own taboos by making fun of them and shining a light on them, and it’s worked out rather well.

READ MORE: Billy Connolly on 'pathetic' Scottish Labour and what he really thinks about independence

“The comedian is doing it for laughs. He’s not doing it like a social worker to make the world better, but accidentally he can do that - he can make the world a better place. Poets and comedians, they are in charge of making the world a better place - leaving it a better place than they found it.

“The incontinence trousers was one of the most successful things I ever did. I couldn’t believe the result that it had and has to this day. I would make fun of darkness, and it’s a joy to do. Humour will always be in a state of change, and different moral realms will come and go and the humour will adjust itself to suit.

“Just now I think it’s a bit up itself. It’s such a tender thing, comedy. When it’s picked up the wrong way it can fall terribly the wrong way, but when picked up the right way it can really enlighten people and make a situation that was awful, better.

“I used to talk about my father’s stroke. The other men in the hospital, guys who were seriously ill, I would make fun of it. It’s just a way of dealing with it yourself I think. Comedy is great that way.”