Andrew Knight remembers John Clarke

"All of us who knew and loved him are now floundering about in a wilderness of platitudes and epitaphs, and none describe the man."

Screenwriter Andrew Knight (Jack Irish, SeaChange, The Kettering Incident, Hacksaw Ridge) has expressed his sorrow following the death of John Clarke.

Both gentlemen wrote The Fast Lane back in 1985.

In this excerpt from an Australian Writer’s Guild newsletter, he wrote, “I have no words – well, none of value and none he would like. All of us who knew and loved him are now floundering about in a wilderness of platitudes and epitaphs, and none describe the man. He was John Clarke and there never was and never will be another one.

“His contribution to our society has no equal, save Barry Humphries. But John was perhaps gentler on his characters than Humphries was. John liked people and would talk to anyone who strayed into his path. He hated pomp, arrogance, liars and bullies, and God help you if you were any one of those. But for the rest of the world he had nothing but time, even when he didn’t – like when he should have been rushing to meet a deadline. There was always time for a chat. To anyone. That love of humanity permeates everything he did. It’s there from his early Fred Dagg days, it’s in The Gillies Report with his ‘farnakeling’ and stupid wigs, right through to The Games with its ‘slightly shorter than 100 metres course’ and his brilliant weekly interviews with Bryan. I was sitting with friends last night feeling like a cricket bat had whacked me. A friend put on the John and Bryan interview about the tanker with the front that fell off. If you haven’t seen it, go to YouTube.

“His writing might be brilliantly satirical, but his position was always on the side of the audience and never above them. He could take some elaborate political obfuscation and reduce it to the tangible absurdity it always was. As Bob Dylan said of Woody Guthrie, ‘Any damn fool can be complex; it takes a genius to be simple.’ And tried and hackneyed though that word is, John was one of them. A genius who never flaunted it. He always said if he was ‘poised to make a political statement there better be a banana skin nearby’.”

Clarke’s daughter Lorin Clarke told ABC’s Jon Faine “He died very suddenly and quickly. There were marvellous people there who we’d like to thank, if they’re listening, including qualified people -there was a doctor. Nothing could have been done and it was a shock. It is a shock but at the moment we all just feel so lucky to have had that man in our lives and shape our lives.

“I feel like that’s what everyone who came across him should be feeling and if you felt like you had a connection to him, then you did.”

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