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Vale John Clarke

John Clarke John Clarke
image courtesy ABC

The death this week of satirist John Clarke is mourned by all who appreciated the wry eye he cast on the increasingly self-parodying state of Australian politics. The vision presented in his classic series The Games (1998, 2000) was beyond prophetic: Australia itself seems to be a mockumentary, stuck in a perennial state of bureaucratic paralysis and privatisation led by the interests of developers and big business. Clarke and Dawe’s The Energy Market Explained, released scarcely a month ago, articulates everything about Clarke’s capacity for towering intellect, satirical edge and creative thinking, that we will miss so much. Lauren

An incisive writer and an idiosyncratic screen presence, John Clarke was a rare being—a virtuosic performative language analyst. Without physically or vocally mimicking politicians and bureaucrats, he joyfully captured and unravelled the relentless illogic of their hard-selling, self-serving utterances. At the same time, as he did with the documentary formula of The Games, an Australian classic, he and Bryan Dawe dismantled the TV interview—"a unique form of comic miniature," wrote Max Gillies, "[a] take on the vaudevillian cross-talk act [which] matured like a fine whisky." All of this was executed with disarming conversational ease, as if Clarke (a perfectionist) and Dawe were improvising. Joining the pair on Thursday nights in a country too, too thin on sharp political satire on television, we could briefly enjoy feeling complicit in striking a blow against a politician and whatever evil they were serving up in the name of the public good. Keith & Virginia

RealTime issue #138 April-May 2017 pg.

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