(Clarke and Dawe)
Comedian Magda Szubanski has remembered John Clarke as a “brilliant” political satirist who showed a great moral compass with his sharp take on Australian politics.
Magda Szubanski tweets: “Beyond sad. Our beloved mentor: a beacon of intelligence & decency. Deepest condolences to his family. Vale beautiful wise soul”
For 27 years, he appeared on Australian television conducting mock interviews and skewering politicians with his comedy partner, Bryan Dawe.
The pair was best known for the Clarke and Dawe sketches that appeared on ABC TV and, earlier, on Channel Nine’s A Current Affair.
Szubanski said she was still “reeling” from the news of his death.
“It’s terribly sad and just a loss, I feel so much for John’s family, but [it is] a loss to the comedy community and broader Australian society,” she told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“Forget other political parties, he was the one who kept the bastards honest because he just had this moral centre that was so flawless and a sense of true north that was impeccable.
“He was just such an honourable man and I think that informed his comedy and what made it so brilliant.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday said Clarke made Australia’s democracy “richer and stronger” and kept politicians on their toes.
‘A thoroughly honourable man’
Szubanski first met Clarke when she was working on sketch comedy show The D Generation in the 1980s.
“He’s been someone who’s been a very important figure for all of us, the next generation of comedians,” she said.
“As [comedian] Gina [Riley] mentioned, he was the one who rang us after Big Girl’s Blouse when we stepped out to do something we didn’t think was controversial but apparently was, three women doing comedy.
“To get his tick of approval meant so much, because we did face some opposition.
“He was just such a thoroughly honourable man, and not everyone in our business is.”
Szubanski said Clarke was also a man of hidden talents.
“A friend of mine said she was talking to him at a party about ornithology and his knowledge was comprehensive and he would often shoot me poems from Irish poets,” she said.
“He was just such an extremely intelligent, well read, very considered man. There was no bullshit in him at all.
“He was so wry and [had] that twinkle in his eye, he was just naughty. You know, that delicious naughty giggly.
“He was a really exceptional man. We’re really grieving his loss.”