Farewell to John Clarke

This wonderfully talented man has been claimed by Australia, but how I remember John Clarke is as a young Wellington actor who performed satirical pieces in a show called “Knickers” at Downstage Theatre. The show featured other future luminaries like John Banas, Paul Holmes (yes the broadcaster), and Ginette McDonald. My sister Sarah, a playwright and director who was also one of the young actors at Downstage in the early days, said that John Clarke was both extremely funny and a truly nice person. Downstage was an incubator for several comic geniuses and John Clarke was at the forefront of that group.

He went on to become Fred Dagg, an iconic phenomenon whose gumbooted absurdity evoked universal affection. For me though, it was his development into a first-rate political satirist that was so joyous. The Games mockumentary TV show and his 25 years of weekly ” interviews” with Bryan Dawe on political matters were so pinpoint and clever that often people thought they were real. He skewered politicians and regressive thinking superbly. I will never forget the skit on aboriginal rights, a magnificent example of how a politician can say nothing coherent about something so important with the arrogant confidence of the dominant male politician.

We have lost a great political satirist and we have never needed him more. Thank you for everything, John Clarke.