Thank you for having me (but I think you’ve been had)

Campbell McComas as, from left, Sir John Monash, Rusty Elders-Young and the I was delighted to hear Radio Eye’s bio on the late and thoroughly great Campbell McComas.  I first heard him in his prototypical role as the Cambridge Criminal Lawyer Granville Williams.  A bootleg tape of a marvellous lecture he gave impersonating this fictitious person – the real Cambridge Professor was Glanville Williams – circulated in the late 70s. It was hilarious and marvellous.

McComas then developed this extraordinary talent of inventing and then impersonating fictitious characters.  It would have been so much easier to just repeat characters he’d already invented.  But he ended up creating 1,800 one off characters.

He gave a lot of the money he earned to charity.  He was, according to John Clarke, a person singularly lacking in malice. He always tried to set and rise to new challenges rather than settle for what he could have done easily.  He deserved all the marvellous things that happened to him – except leukaemia which polished him off just five weeks after diagnosis when he was 52.

Short of Nelson Mandela and the seriously morally courageous, I can’t think of a person I admire more. We should celebrate him even more than we do.  I’ve only heard the second half of the show, but the first half which I will listen to soon no doubt has lavish grabs from the Glanville Williams gig.

As Richard Pratt said at his funeral, if it were up to me, I’d give him a state funeral.

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Patrick
Patrick
13 years ago

He spoke at my school once. A very warm and lovely person.

trackback
13 years ago

Club Troppo

Chris Lloyd
Chris Lloyd
13 years ago

At the 1998 Statistical Society of Australia conference, there was a scheduled after dinner speaker from the Nevada division of the US Foundations for Standards in Geological Statistics. He had a long list of honours after his name and the abstract for the talk ran to a page and a half of meaningless jargon. I considered walking out after the main course and missing the sweets and coffee, and I very nearly vented my spleen at the organiser who was at the table next to me. Luckily I stayed.

The speaker was McComas. He did a masterful job. And to pull off the number of technical jokes and references to personalities in the field would have required a huge amount of background research. Statistics conferences have never been the same since!

Helen
13 years ago

And to pull off the number of technical jokes and references to personalities in the field would have required a huge amount of background research.

Much of it in an era where he wouldn’t have had Google or Wikipedia. That makes it all the more of an achievement.