Beyond Our Ken

Very sad news — the great Ken Campbell has died, aged 66. Ken was an inspiration to me in many ways. As a Fortean and Dickhead (adherent of sci-fi scribe Philip K. Dick) he wrote (and performed) mind-expanding, crazy, yet beautifully structured monologues (“the structure of this one is based on the toilet plunger”) which I’ve quoted here at least once. His tendency to be funny about stuff that most people either ignored or discussed with the hushed, intense tones of the paranoiac (UFOs, the Little People, Cathar and Albigensian heretic cults, ventriloquism, cannibalism, the making of THE EXORCIST, transvestism, Ken Dodd, nasal sex, improvisation in iambic pentameter, visualisation, invisibility, Ambrose Bierce, mysterious disappearances, and furtive nudity, to name but a few) deeply influenced my own tendency to be passionate about cinema without always taking it too seriously. I mean, I’m IN earnest, but I shouldn’t BE earnest.

“You shouldn’t believe anything. Anybody who starts a sentence with ‘I believe’ is usually a right berk. So you shouldn’t believe anything. But you should be prepared to SUPPOSE *ANYTHING*.”

I persuaded (he was quite happy, not much persuasion required) Ken to contribute a vocal performance to my film CLARIMONDE, a no-budget Gothic comedy. Ken plays Inspector Childers, heard at the start and end of the movie. His role was recorded in the green room of the Traverse Theatre, where he was performing his entire Bald Trilogy, about five hours of stand-up insanity. It was pretty good of him to give me his time (and voice).

In the spirit of neatness, I can connect this post to Jekyll Week — Campbell created the Enantiodromic Approach to theatre, detailed here, which certainly ties in with old two-face Jekyll.

And here’s Ken’s physical apparition, speaking to you from beyond the grave, about Laurence Olivier speaking to you from beyond the grave:

Ken’s film credits as actor include playing a happy flagellant in JABBERWOCKY and a drunken clown in Derek Jarman’s THE TEMPEST. His obituaries are among the funniest I’ve ever read:


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