Kiwi Comedian John Clarke recorded his final TV comedy show in Australia last week, featuring fake news and alternative facts before suddenly dying. “He was very fit,” his heartbroken friends and family say. Clarke and Bryan Dawe ran a satirical segment on Australia’s ABCTV every Thursday for 25 years.
The final Clarke and Dawe episode ran this week, days after Clarke’s unexpected death. A note before the special says it was recorded April 5, days before Clarke’s death at age 68 “of natural causes” while hiking in the Grampians National Park in Victoria on April 9.
Friend and former colleague Ross Stevenson said Clarke died from a heart attack.
In the popular two-man ABC series each week, Bryan Dawe interviewed Clarke, who would pretend to be a prominent spokesperson on a particular subject. He often played the role of prime minister in the series, covering the latest political news with a comical flare only his remarkable wit and talent could achieve.
After Australia’s then-Prime Minister John Howard refused to formally apologize to indigenous Aboriginal people for past human rights abuse atrocities, the actor, who happened to have the same name as the nation’s leader, read a moving apology on television. The 2000 skit on The Games was one of many culturally iconic moments created by John Clarke, beloved comedian and satirist.
In this final episode (below), Clarke plays the role of Richard Shinery, a specialist from a fictional company who explains things – like crowdfunding, ScarJo, “fake news” and “alternative facts” – to people who “haven’t got it yet”.
All week, Clarke’s death has seen outpourings of grief from family, friends and fans in New Zealand, where he was famous for creating the character Fred Dagg in the 1970s, and from Australia.
Clarke and Dawe had also dedicated a program, one of their best, to the United States presidential election