John Clarke, the New Zealand-born comedian who became a fixture on Australian television, has died at the age of 68.
Clarke died of natural causes while hiking in the Grampians National Park in Victoria.
He was best known for his satirical interviews with Bryan Dawe, which aired on A Current Affair and, later, The 7:30 Report (you can watch one of their best efforts, The Front Fell Off, in the video above).
Clarke was also known for writing and starring in The Games, a mockumentary series that aired in the lead-up to the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
He first shot to fame in New Zealand with his character Fred Dagg, a parody of the typical ‘Kiwi bloke’ that he played regularly from 1975 until he moved to Australian in 1979.
A talented screenwriter, he was nominated for an AFI award for co-writing 1982’s Lonely Hearts, and adapted author Shane Maloney’s Murray Whelan series into two films, Stiff and The Brush-Off, starring David Wenham and Mick Molloy. He also co-wrote the acclaimed television miniseries, Anzacs, that aired in 1985.
He provided the voice of Wal Footrot in the 1986 animated film, Footrot Flats: The Dog’s Tale, which was adapted from the comic strips of Murray Ball, who passed away last month.
Also a prolific author, Clarke had numerous books published, including The Complete Book of Australian Verse, The Even More Complete Book of Australian Verse, The Howard Miracle and The 7:56 Report.
Tributes for Clarke have begun flowing in, with comedian Wil Anderson praising Clarke as “still the funniest satirist on TV”, and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten calling him “the sharpest, driest wit on Aussie TV”.
Clarke’s final sketch with Bryan Dawe, Company tax cuts have passed the pub test, aired just days ago and is viewable online here.