A good man gone

We got the news yesterday that John Clarke had died over the weekend. He was just 68, and seemed to have many more years left in him.

John was a truly great comedian and satirist. Over the last 30 years in Australia he had become a staple of the scene on TV, the occasional movie, and through his writing and commentary. I can remember him many years ago writing about fanarkeling and Dave Sorenson, before he made the transition to TV. He became an easily recognised figure, and like he was for many others, he was a great favourite of mine.

I’ll miss his gentle humour and his often incisive satire. He could get to the essence of a piece of nonsense and with gentle humour expose the absurdity of it. There was never any shortage of material and for god knows how many years he had a weekly gig on the ABC with Brian Dawe skewering the pretensions and pomposities of our politicians.

In the lead-up to the 2000 Sydney Olympics Clarke starred in a truly great series called The Games. It was a satire on the organising committee of the games and the bureaucracy and political interference, not to mention incompetence they had to deal with – including, for example, the track for the 100 metres sprint being only 94 metres long.

If you haven’t seen it you should look it up – it’s one of those shows I’d happily watch again and keep for posterity.

His humour will be greatly missed and that’s reason enough for sorrow, but it goes deeper than that. I once briefly met him at some function I can no longer recall. He was then much as he appeared to be on TV – a very decent, wise and lovely human being. It feels to me that the world is a little less today because he has left it. I’ll miss him.

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