Skip to main content
Buy TET Life art on Skateboards and more. etourist Skateboards Store.

Book Review (x2): Tinkering / A Pleasure to Be Here by John Clarke

Tinkering / A Pleasure to Be Here.
by John Clarke
John Clarke is one of the rare famous New Zealanders who Australia hasn't claimed as their own. Probably because he got too well known for being a New Zealander before he did what many New Zealanders do, move to Australia. Though I think he may have made a side trip to the UK for a few years before that.

As a comedic writer/performer clearly Australia was a bigger joke for John Clarke than New Zealand, or at least a bigger coal face to mine humor from when it comes to political nonsense and a general fascination with unnecessary levels of administration and form filling.

A Pleasure to Be Here (2017)


I can't remember when John Clarke first came upon my radar but through the nineteen eighties I was much more intrigued by Australian politics than I am today. It's likely John got my attention as that comedian who did a short interview style satire at the end of the week on the TV News show, A Current Affair, and then later, The Seven Thirty Report.

A Pleasure to Be Here is an extensive collection of those interviews that John did with his on screen collaborator and friend Bryan Dawe between 1989 and 2017.

As much as John's writing is clever and mostly genius, the interviews are presented with no context beyond brief chapter headings, to give you some indication of the time period they were written and who may have inspired them. However if you were following the news of the day, some of the bigger political stories are easy to recall, allowing you to see the humor in John's take on events.

That aside, there are some interviews which are almost timeless due to completely sidestepping the main issue thanks to John's fascination with administrative affairs. A particular favorite interview of mine is on page 50 with Senator Bob Collins, Minister for Shipping, titled: The Front Fell Off.



Part of John's genius was his ability to perform his own work completely straight faced, as if the interviewee is the only sane person in the room. The fact that he made no attempt to look or sound like the person he was playing highlighted the strength of his writing and humor.

Unfortunately a book of the interviews does lack the magic of John and Bryan's performance but you can relive many of the interviews on the Clarke and Dawe Youtube Channel.

That aside, it is a great reference book for John and Bryan's work, and is still worth a read, particularly if you at least remember key political events like Australia's ever changing Prime Ministers.

Tinkering: The Complete Book of John Clarke (2017)


It's something of a misrepresentation to call this book The Complete Book of John Clarke in the sense that clearly, it's not thick enough (282 pages), and there's not a single Clarke & Dawe interview reproduced within.

However, in terms of completeness what you get is a sampling of all kinds of writing that John did from Fred Dagg through to profiles of people he admired, diary like entries, poems, short essays, and more.

Like A Pleasure to Be Here, no real context is given for any of the writing reproduced other than it generally falls in the order it was written and it's a bit of a highlights anthology of John's entire career as mostly a writer (as opposed to writer/performer).

The humor is very much Clarke's style (as you would expect) with fewer pieces that require you to know the events of the day in order to find funny. You'll get more of a taste of John's fascination (and perhaps cynical contempt) for bureaucracy, meaningless administration, and form filling.

However what makes this book stand out for me are the sections where John is writing about actual people who inspired him, or retelling stories from his life and career. I imagine John had plenty more stories to tell or people he would have loved to have written about. Unfortunately his passing in April of 2017 has slowed him down somewhat. (Paraphrasing a joke John himself makes in the book).

I also imagine, that were he still around, reflecting on his own life would be less important to him than making fun of current events.

Tinkering is an enjoyable read, though a little challenging in places due to some fairly unorthodox writing structures like reading a form - no one likes reading forms, even humorously written ones. All the same it's an essential book for John Clarke fans.

Both books are available through John Clarke's website.

Comments

  1. A very thorough review David. If I knew more about the politics down there I just might buy this book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. I don't know how famous John Clarke was in the rest of the world but in Australia and New Zealand he was Comedy royalty for the best part of 50 years I'd think. He was a huge star in New Zealand in the early 1970's before anyone in Australia had even heard of him.

      I think you'd probably appreciate a TV show he wrote and starred in called 'The Games' which was a send up of the administration tasked with organising the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. Has a similar style to The Office but a much wider scope since they're working on an international sporting event.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Comments not directly related to the post will be deleted. This includes spammy generic comments with links to websites not related to the post.


Buy Gifts and Apparel featuring art by TET

Popular posts from this blog

Guest Post: MY SOOPER DOOPER NEW CONSERVATORY/ART STUDIO!

Jo's new Art Studio/Conservatory. Today's guest post is by Artist, Writer, and Mental Health Advocate, Jo B Creative who writes for her blog,  Creating My Oddessey . Y ou should see our (almost) brand new conservatory, half of which is my art studio. 'Lucky me!' I think to myself. Not every creative bod can boast that. It's HUGE! Like a giant greenhouse. We first moved to our pleasant cul-de-sac house - great for raising kids - when our son, who's on the cusp of thirty-one, was four. One of the main reasons that we wanted it was that, apart from its location on the fringes of a historic market town in rural Hampshire, UK, it had a sizable conservatory looking onto the back garden. It was brown wood framed and had a corrugated transparent roof sloping down from downstairs ceiling height. On the face of it, it doesn't sound that glamourous, but we loved the idea of a conservatory. Luxury! I even liked the red brick walls which it was built against -

Batman v Superman: Dawn of the Onesie #Sadbatman

Although we haven't seen it clearly for sure, film director Kevin Smith (who has seen a well lit, color photo of the suit), says Ben Affleck's Bat costume is pretty much identical to the Frank Miller, Dark Knight Returns suit. If that's true then Ben's world weary Batman will be going 'old school' and be wearing his underpants on the outside (as he should).

Course Review: YouTube for Bosses - Sunny Lenarduzzi. How to grow your YouTube Channel into a Business

YouTube for Bosses Free Mug...  or the most expensive mug  you'll ever buy? I've been subscribed to  Sunny Lenarduzzi's YouTube channel for a few years, learning a lot on how to grow a following on sites like YouTube and Instagram. If you have any interest in growing your own YouTube channel I'd highly recommend watching some of Sunny's videos on the subject.  Definitely explore her 2019 back catalogue for the most useful information. This year she's been on a bit of a 'being authentic' pivot that, personally, doesn't resonate all that much with me (but probably speaks volumes to anyone with similar experience). I'm not saying she shouldn't or isn't being authentic, it's just I didn't subscribe to hear stories about her life journey. To get back on track, Sunny runs a successful online business with her flagship course, YouTube for Bosses , a stand alone paid course that does act as something of a gateway to further paid (but opt

One Week on Light n' Easy #lightneasy

My partner, Enigma, and I recently decided to try Light n' Easy to replace all our daily meals in an effort to eat healthier (and not have to think at all about cooking evening meals). Enigma is about to embark on her third week of their full menu but I caved after one and opted just to get the dinners.

Book Review: Time Rich by Steve Glaveski

I remember listening to a podcast interview with Steve Glaveski where he talked about 'being in flow' and how artists and other creative people struggled with time management because they needed to be in the 'flow state' to do their most creative work. The 'flow state' is basically being on such a roll with whatever you're doing you don't want to stop just because your diary says you've scheduled something else for the next 30 minutes. I don't remember too much from the podcast but it really resonated with me so much that I immediately ordered a copy of Steve's second book, Time Rich - Do Your Best Work, Live Your Best Life  that he was promoting at the time. To cut straight to the bottom line, probably one of the most disappointing books I've read in quite a while. Which is not to say the content is bad, it's just the title and blurb information, in my opinion, completely misrepresents what the book is about. There is a strong sugges

Movie Review: Long Story Short (2021) *Very minor spoilers*

Written and directed by Australian actor, Josh Lawson, Long Story Short is a fun rom-com about putting things off until the 'right' time and maybe how that isn't a good strategy for life. Rafe Spall plays Teddy, a guy who has a reputation for putting things off, and waiting too long to act on important decisions like setting a wedding date to his fiance, Leanne (Zahra Newman). It's not that he's lazy or unmotivated, it's just that he likes to wait for the perfect time to act. One day while visiting his father's grave he meets a strange woman (Noni Hazlehurst) who promises to give him a gift on his wedding day. Teddy doesn't think too much of it but then, on his wedding day, he jumps forward a year in time, where Leanne is celebrating their one year wedding anniversary. Teddy barely has time to comprehend his predicament before he flashes forward to their two year anniversary. Long Story Short inevitably will be compared to the Bill Murray movie, Ground

The Braille Skateboarding App - How it Changed My Mind on Switch Skating

My Profile on the Braille Skateboarding App. Braille Skateboarding launched it's new Skateboarding App worldwide on November 23rd, 2020. About a month prior to that they did a 'soft launch' via email for anyone living in Australia. I'm guessing this was to give the app a final test in the real world before launching it proper. Rather than explain what it is, watch Aaron Kyro, founder of Braille Skateboarding, run you through the app in the launch video below.  In a nutshell the app is virtually everything Braille has to offer accessed right from your phone, from tutorials to the Braille Army Community. The app is free but you can unlock more features if you upgrade to a paid membership. Braille App Trick List. One of the apps unique free features is keeping track of the tricks you've learned and giving you an overall score so you have some way to measure your progression. There is an extensive list of tricks, covering all types of skateboarding, categorized by diff