Master of deadpan political satire John Clarke is a sad loss

Sad loss: Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann mourns the loss of political satirist and great wit John Clarke, reminding us of some of his memorable moments in broadcasting.
Sad loss: Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann mourns the loss of political satirist and great wit John Clarke, reminding us of some of his memorable moments in broadcasting.

No one with a hint of humour could fail to be saddened by the death last weekend of John Clarke, born a New Zealander, but who made Australia home 40 years ago, and who, ever since, graced us with his sterling wit and is now gone too soon.

His first character – Fred Dagg – remains iconic, as well as his mythic sport of ‘farnarkeling’ from The Gilles Report.

But it was the weekly show Clarke and Dawe which captured me. A couple of minutes of comic scalpel on current issues, and an absurd rendering of often terribly serious matters delivered deadpan. Oh joy.

He’s been called the god of mischief, with his dry wit and sparkling eyes, simultaneously bringing us the truth and making it easier to handle. He could turn the deadly important into the outrageously funny without ever losing sight of why it was so serious in the first place.

Thankfully, though we’ve lost him, his history can still be seen with sidekick Bryan Dawe on the internet – testament to their droll Down Under sense of humour and, from comments, widely appreciated the world over.  

Less known perhaps, were Clarke’s 27 books on a range of subjects, and his 10-part contribution to the 2010 federal election debate, titled St Paul’s Letter to the Electorates: an insightful hoot that’s still well worth a read. “...And lo, Kevin and Penny returned to their people saying 'We have tried everything. We cannot get agreement from these bozos. For they all agree, except about doing anything’.”

The poorer for losing him, we remain richer for having him – master of the sword thrust against political correctness and champion of the essential business of irreverence to hypocrisy.

If you haven’t caught up with John Clarke’s work already, it’s definitely still worth finding now. So accurate that it’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry. But he made us laugh.

These are Cr Intemann’s opinions and not necessarily council’s.