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.