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!

Today's guest post is by Artist, Writer, and Mental Health Advocate, Jo B Creative who writes for her blog, Creating My Oddessey.

You 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 - the original exterior of the house - and the light …

Kids today are smarter than their parents?

How often have you heard it said that kids today are smarter than their parents? I’ve heard it quite frequently in the media – even Dr Phil has said it. I say speak for your self. It’s not true and don’t let the media fool you.

Today’s kids may have access to more information that may give them more choices but in my experience, they only take in what they want to hear and still make stupid, uninformed decisions. Just like we used to at their age.

Like any cross section of people there will be exceptions. There are kids that are genuinely smarter, more mature and responsible for their age. However the vast majority know everything they need to know by the time they turn fourteen. They’re ‘adult’ enough to be responsible for all their own decision making so parents should just let them do what they please…right? Just like we thought at fourteen.

Don’t be fooled. Just because your son knows how to download MP3’s onto an ipod, or your daughter can chat to five friends at the same time on he…

Revive Skateboards, Design a Lifeline Competition - My Pizza Monkeys Entry Submission

About a month ago Revive Skateboards launched their #DesignALifeline competition where entrants had to purchase a specific Lifeline template skateboard deck, draw their design on it, and then post a photo of their finished board to Instagram with the hashtag #designalifeline.

With only 200 template boards being made available, I liked those odds, and bought a deck within an hour of seeing the competition announcement video on the day it was posted. The deck cost me US$40.00 and about that again to have it mailed to Australia. It's the most expensive competition entry I've paid for to date.



The winner gets to have their design released as an official deck as part of Revive's Spring 2020 product release. As well they get three copies of their deck along with a sponsor pack (which typically consists of a number of decks, clothes, wheels etc. from Revive's range). Four runners up will get a sponsor package only.

If you're thinking you might like to enter, unfortunatel…

"You are the Generation that bought more shoes..."

"You are the generation that bought more shoes, you get what you deserve." This quote is a song lyric that I heard on the radio (my apologies to the writer and artist that it belongs too because I don't know who either of you are). It's a great line and I can only assume it refers to the apparent lack of interest today's eighteen to twenty somethings appear to have in more serious and deeper issues.

Not that I'm trying to hold myself up as someone who campaigns strongly for the greater good of human kind or that I spend significant amounts of time raising awareness of important issues. I'm certainly not a poster boy for changing the attitudes of people with too many shoes but lyrics like that do make you think.

It's at this point that I really don't know where to go with this article. Should I focus on the material nature of modern society and its obsession with having more stuff? Or should I mention a few important issues, like Human Rights Abuses,…

getpaidtodraw.com - Your Questions Answered.

Is it a scam? Is the sales message too good to be true? Can you really sit back, relax and get paid thousands of dollars in residual payments?

If you've discovered the site getpaidtodraw.com and have been looking for someone who has bought this product before taking that leap then this review will peel back the glossy sales message and give you the answers. Prior to buying this product I came across much distrust and misinformation about getpaidtodraw.com by people who hadn't purchased it. There was a real need for information so I decided to take the leap and make the purchase specifically so I could write this informed review. Note that I am not, in any way, a getpaidtodraw.com affiliate.

For this review I will be focusing on the getpaidtodraw system which includes; the ebook, instructional videos and database along with access to the systems author Jules Camber (who replies to emails as 'Jamie, President of Champ Entertainment, Inc and Beats365, LLC'). I'll touch …

Creating a Mobile Independent Artist Business - Part 10: Opportunities to make money (Part A)

In my last post I looked at What to Create and Finding Your Market. This post is something of a natural follow on from finding your market as many of these money making opportunities include their own market places that you can research to see what kinds of themes and subjects sell best.

It's worth doing this research to find out if the art you're already creating is a good fit for that market place - which is ideal - or if you may have to consider expanding your interests to cover popular themes in order sell in a particular market.

Terror is for Stupid People.

This is an idea for a song that began forming in my head one morning. I found myself desperately trying to finish taking a shower so I could write something down before I forgot everything. You know how it is...you think of one line, then another, then another and before you know it you've forgotten how it started.

Anyway this is as far as I got before my day took over. I may finish it sometime in the future.

Terror is for Stupid People.

Terror is for Stupid People,
The weak, the undeserved.
You only read what you want to see,
You miss out many words.

Too many people dying.
Only the dead are really free.
The rest of us, left behind,
Thank God we've got TV.

This modern world is crying.
Look what you have done.
Fear and a 'War on Terror'.
This is what we've become.

- TET, May 30th, 2006