John Clarke (established New Zealand, 1948)
April 9, 2017 9:59 PM   Subscribe

John Clarke, celebrated Australian/New Zealander actor, satirist, and comedian, died of natural causes while hiking in Victoria’s Grampians National Park at the weekend. Obituaries: ABC, Guardian, Radio NZ. posted by zamboni (59 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Argh, double, sorry zamboni. I'd be happy for mine to be nuked but would be very glad for the link to The Games scripts to be included here. Link.
posted by turbid dahlia at 10:01 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]

posted by ambrosen at 10:03 PM on April 9

posted by misfish at 10:06 PM on April 9

Christ, this one cuts deep. We needed him and Dawe as much now as ever.
posted by MarchHare at 10:07 PM on April 9 [6 favorites]

His documentaries on the Australian accent and Australian sporting history were fascinating and hilarious.
posted by misfish at 10:11 PM on April 9 [4 favorites]

One of the last great A/NZ satirists. The Games is the best comedy series ever made in this country. Clarke will be on screen at the end of the year alongside one of the other last greats, Shaun Micallef, in series two of The Ex-PM.
posted by turbid dahlia at 10:11 PM on April 9 [9 favorites]


So upset.
So sad.
posted by Neale at 10:17 PM on April 9

posted by motty at 10:30 PM on April 9

Will be missed.
posted by small house at 10:34 PM on April 9

Ah, Clarke and Dawe were wonderful.

posted by N-stoff at 10:59 PM on April 9

Terrible news. A great, great comedian. I'll never forget his 1986 short Man and Boy: "Arms like legs, and the brain of a very small bird."
posted by rory at 11:03 PM on April 9

Gutted. I know many famous people of roughly this vintage have died in the last year or two but this is the one that really hurts. Why couldn't someone mediocre and old die instead?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:29 PM on April 9 [1 favorite]

posted by sarcas at 11:39 PM on April 9

Vale. We've lost a true titan.
posted by smoke at 12:16 AM on April 10

posted by Proofs and Refutations at 12:45 AM on April 10

He is irreplaceable. His humour and humanity illuminated all his work.
posted by emf at 12:52 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]

(speaking of humanity, he was much nicer than I was in that comment, which was unworthy of him. i'm upset.)
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:04 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]

Too soon.
posted by glitter at 1:10 AM on April 10

posted by acb at 1:16 AM on April 10

Why couldn't someone mediocre and old die instead?

If they did, would you notice?
posted by acb at 1:16 AM on April 10

The Games was a great comedy that I lucked upon while doing Olympics research years ago. Hilarious, and often subtle and complex.

Sad. He will be missed.

posted by young_simba at 1:17 AM on April 10

Clarke was a sublime mimic... roll with me here... OK, so he never actually copied others' vocal tones and accent but he mimicked their thinking patterns and then exposed them succinctly and adroitly through language and timing. He reflected parts of our culture back to ourselves from within a range of cultural identities; including the deadpan, literal, and fiercely independent dagg or bogan, and the be-suited climber up the slimy politico-corporate pole expressed through The Games, Clarke and Dawe, etc, etc, as performer and/or writer.

He was my fantasy comedic celebrity-boyfriend and I googled him once to see if he was single. Nope. Seriously, deeply and decades-long married to his first wife. I feel for her and their seven sons, the Trevors.
posted by Thella at 1:26 AM on April 10 [7 favorites]

From the ABC obit: "RN presenter Jonathan Green said Clarke was a 'tremendous exchanger of pleasantries'."
posted by young_simba at 1:33 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]

"John died doing one of the things he loved the most in the world, taking photos of birds in beautiful bushland with his wife and friends. He is forever in our hearts," his family said in a statement issued by the ABC.

Even though I know how much he'll be missed, I can't think of a more beautiful way to go. Just quietly, somewhere beautiful, somewhere peaceful. If only we are all so fortunate.

posted by Jilder at 1:39 AM on April 10 [3 favorites]

I'm glad he died doing what he loved.

posted by daybeforetheday at 1:59 AM on April 10

posted by robcorr at 2:14 AM on April 10

posted by AD_ at 2:15 AM on April 10

What a tragedy.
posted by Jubey at 2:17 AM on April 10

I was lucky enough to have brushed paths with him once or twice. He was a really thoughtful, kind man who went out of his way to help people, and he was a great supporter of nature conservation.

posted by andraste at 2:19 AM on April 10 [4 favorites]

Damn. He was one of the funniest buggers who ever lived. I have often thought back to the wisdom of Bruce Baillis in Fred Dagg's The Meaning of Life, and how if we're all imagining we are here, it'd be a lot easier on the wife and kids if we imagined we were a bit happier about it. I too shall be a naive realist forever.

posted by drnick at 2:20 AM on April 10 [3 favorites]

posted by No-sword at 2:40 AM on April 10

posted by colin.jaquiery at 3:03 AM on April 10

I still thumb through his Complete Book of Australian Verse about once a month - a satirical gem that's gotten better as I've gotten older.

What a loss to clear thinking and high-caliber hilarity in this neck of the woods.

posted by Lesser Spotted Potoroo at 3:14 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]

posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 4:17 AM on April 10

posted by Coaticass at 4:18 AM on April 10

He was the greatest farnarkeler of them all :-(

I call on the Australian Farnarkeling League to immediately establish a commemorative medal in his honour, that young farnarks of each of New Australia's 6 provinces and 2 prefectures may strive to emulate him in the arkeling grommet, attempting to mimic his lustrous wheedle, his hrumphing stribe and his coagulous donk ... a donk the like of which no farnarkeler will ever be pulged on by again.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:19 AM on April 10 [7 favorites]

My grandmother used to have a cassette recorder all set up to record after the TV One news, in case one of Clarke's Fred Dagg skits came on. They weren't announced: they were just there or they weren't. This would've been in the late '70s, and she was still playing those tapes with glee a decade or more later.
posted by Sonny Jim at 4:28 AM on April 10 [5 favorites]

My favourite story about him was from the filming of The Adventures of Barry Mackenzie. It's fair to say this is not a subtle film. The director Bruce Beresford showed various bods some footage of when Bazza was leaving London to return to Australia. The bar was full of blokes bloking it up, with yelling and backslapping and froth flying in all directions. Beresford slowed down the footage to reveal an extra (Clarke) sitting at the bar, seemingly not paying attention. As he raised his beer to his mouth, he slightly raised his little finger. "Watch this bloke," said Beresford.
posted by hawthorne at 4:35 AM on April 10 [5 favorites]

I saw him buying pastries at Fatto a Mano on Gertrude Street earlier this year. He was bigger in real life than he appeared on television. He had an avuncular contentment about him. And pastries.
posted by asok at 4:51 AM on April 10 [3 favorites]

Vale John, thanks for all the good times and good lines. We do indeed know how lucky we were.
posted by valetta at 4:55 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]

posted by filtergik at 5:15 AM on April 10

Oh, this fellow. He was so clever, so witty, so sublimely satirical without being even a little bit nasty. Australia and New Zealand will greatly feel his loss. Toodlehoom, Fred/John.

(My brother sings this every Christmas).
posted by h00py at 5:34 AM on April 10 [3 favorites]

One of the few people I wept for when he died. I saw the news pop up and just found it hard to believe - I grew up with his humour and really hoped he'd outlive me, so I could always have Fred Dagg living in the paddock next door.

He left NZ in the 70's when the political climate didn't appreciate satirical funny, and even though it tried to break though from Fred, his attempts at another persona never succeeded.

Oz was totally fresh for his style of "satire while funny" and he was able to ridicule the establishment without being offensive about it.

Clarke had a hand in responding to John Cleese's distaste for Clarke's home town by sugging the town's garbage dump be named after him.

The Trevs are sad now, Fred.
posted by arzakh at 5:46 AM on April 10 [4 favorites]

Argh, double, sorry zamboni.

No worries, td. In fact, I'm glad that a unique impersonator like Clarke had a double for his obit post.
posted by zamboni at 6:28 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]

Clarke had a hand in responding to John Cleese's distaste for Clarke's home town by sugging the town's garbage dump be named after him.

That is doubly priceless. Mount you, John Cleese! 😂
posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:27 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]

I call on the Australian Farnarkeling League to immediately establish a commemorative medal in his honour

Word is that the oleaginous Dave Sorensen will be invited out of retirement to present the beveled orb. However he did suffer a gross personal mishap when attempting to take the call from the organizers while on his mobile phone painting his house. It will be a shame indeed if the bluetooth-ectomy is unsuccessful and prevents the now vibrating Sorenson from attending.

posted by inflatablekiwi at 7:32 AM on April 10 [3 favorites]

Shortly before the 2000 Olympics, CBC ran the first season of The Games in some weird time slot like 10:30 PM on Wednesdays. There was minimal promotion so I have no idea how I found it, but I thought it was brilliant. I eventually picked up the DVDs, and the second year as well courtesy of an Australian friend.

John Clarke had little or no presence in Canadian culture, alas, so I introduced a dozen or so other people to his wry humour that way. I now have the sad task of delivering some sorrowful news to those same friends now.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:08 AM on April 10 [2 favorites]

posted by disclaimer at 9:42 AM on April 10

I found an old Fred Dagg tape deep in the glove box of my dads car when I was a child, I think it was the first NZ/OZ comedian I had heard and it captivated me, I listened to that thing for months. I grew up with Clark and Dawe on TV and then The Games hit when I was in my late teens. Ah, yeah, that is to say that John Clarke has been an influence and a presence for my whole life and will be badly missed. Glad he went well.
posted by fido~depravo at 10:04 AM on April 10 [5 favorites]

I just found out he co-wrote the film Lonely Hearts (SLYT) with director Paul Cox. What a lovely man.
posted by misterbee at 6:29 PM on April 10

posted by bangalla at 9:40 PM on April 10

Never have so many been excoriated by one person who never stooped to imitate. He aped by refusing to ape.
posted by esto-again at 12:28 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]

posted by pompomtom at 2:19 AM on April 11

Courtesy of this fine piece, I was reminded of the three industrial relations/ challenges of parenting pieces (starting at the heading Conflict a page or so up from my search term. I don't think he ever spoke them but I can hear him anyway.
posted by hawthorne at 2:36 AM on April 11 [1 favorite]

Mr John Clarke liked photographing birds.
The small pop-up "Never miss a post from mrjohnclarke" made me tear up again.
posted by Thella at 2:45 AM on April 11 [3 favorites]

I can see we have a few Trevs in this thread. I've been listening to John's albums a bit over the last few days. I hope his family give him the send off he deserves. What an absolute legend.

In my mind I'm just going to imagine that involves six gumboot and black singlet wearing farmers acting as pall bearers and someone cranking out Not a Bad Day for it or We Don't Know How Lucky We Are. If it's a slightly more classy affair maybe just the Theme from Country Calendar. The front of the herse will of course fall off.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 12:46 PM on April 11 [1 favorite]

I'm sure you'll all join with myself in going along with myself, wholeheartedly, I think, in joining with myself in concurring with inflatablekiwi on that particular one. Goodbye John.
posted by Sonny Jim at 9:37 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]

Loving sendoff from the ABC last night: John Clarke, Thanks For Your Time.
Clarke to Dawe: Let's go shove some ferrets down some trousers.
posted by valetta at 8:11 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]

posted by Tasmanian_Kris at 7:16 PM on May 5

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