Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement Pay Tribute to Late NZ Satirist John Clarke

Clarke, who died Sunday, was known for his biting humor and was a big influence on the 'Flight of the Conchords' creators and a generation of antipodean comedians.

New Zealand satirist, writer and actor John Clarke, a huge influence on antipodean comedy in a near 50-year career, died suddenly Sunday while hiking in Victoria, Australia. He was 68. 

According to his family, Clarke passed away from natural causes.

The Kiwi comic, who frequented Australian TV screens on a weekly basis, starred in several Aussie films and is beloved in his native New Zealand for creating the iconic gumboot-and-black-singlet-wearing Fred Dagg. 

Clarke was best known for his biting satire, which was famously on display on the Olympics-themed show The Games, which ran from 1998 to 2000. On the show, Clarke would take great delight in skewering hapless bureaucrats charged with putting on the 2000 Sydney Olympic games. Clarke was also widely known for the weekly segment Clarke and Dawe, in which he would brutally take down the Australian political class. 

As an actor, Clarke had a long list of credits in seminal Australian comedies including Death in Brunswick and Crackerjack, and wrote the Billy Connolly-Judy Davis starrer, The Man Who Sued God.

A major fixture on NZ and Australian TV, Clarke was an enduring inspiration to a generation of comedians and comic actors who have gone on to become global stars, most notably the creators and performers who worked on HBO show Flight of the Conchords, including Thor director Taika Waititi and actors Jemaine Clement and Rhys Darby. 

Darby tweeted that Clarke was a "Kiwi comedy legend” who was “a massive inspiration to me." Waititi tweeted that Clarke was "[h]ugely influential to me and my mates, he was one of the fathers of NZ's style of comedy. We all copied him at some point."

Tributes also came from leaders of both Australia and New Zealand. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Clarke’s “laconic wit was rarely wide of the mark. With lethal accuracy he made politicians and prime ministers his prey. With Bryan Dawe, his weekly takedown of the absurdity of political life became required viewing.”

“We’ll wait a long time to find another John Clarke. In fact, we never will,” he added.

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English tweeted: “Sad to hear of the death of John Clarke, aka Fred Dagg. His humor captured the experience of life in NZ and Australia.”

 

 

 


 

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