Ken Campbell, History of Comedy Part 1: Ventriloquism

Review in Issue 12-4 | Winter 2000

Ken Campbell sits at the back of the stage with his ‘knee pal’ astride his lap. His attempts at ventriloquism are entertainingly awful and he is determined that we shall reach these dizzy depths too. His face contorts: ‘Who dared to put wet fruit bat turd in our dead mummy’s bed, was it you, Verity?’ And like good pupils we try our best not to move our lips.

Ken Campbell is up to his old tricks again – haranguing, berating, going off on a tangent, doing card tricks with a pack of sausages, telling shaggy dog stories. He goes one stage further this time and has a dog on stage with him – and a sort of pram-come-sledge for his Gertrude Stein puppet. Eskimos like her, we are told. The main narrative thread of this new piece of theatre is the ideological battle between Ken and his ex-girlfriend Nina about the virtues of our Gertie versus the manly appeal of Jack London’s Call of the Wild. Where ventriloquism fits into this is hard for me to explain – Ken does it so much better. Thus, Andy Capp, talking sticks, pygmies, talcum powder, funerals, and plays written by drug-dependant Inuit Indians are all somehow roped together in a breathless three-hour marathon.

Here is a man who doesn’t do things by halves. His passion and zest for life oozes out of every cell of his body. Playing Ken Campbell is the biggest challenge of his life. ‘This is it, it doesn’t come any better than this,’ he says, extending his arms out to embrace everyone and everything on stage and in the auditorium. Ken Campbell, This Is Your Life.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-4
p. 27