Skip to main content
Learn How to Start a T-Shirt Business using RedBubble, Society6 and TeePublic - Click Here
Affiliate link - Thank you for helping to keep this site free.

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 -

How to Transfer Any Line Art to Your Griptape - Easy Skateboard Griptape Art Tutorial

Dog Star Griptape Art by TET Griptape art is once again gaining popularity amongst modern skateboarders. For those of us who have tried to create our own griptape art, using paint pens, you'll know reproducing your design onto the grip, without making any mistakes is incredibly challenging. Mostly because you just have to go for it and draw the design freehand, with paint pens, directly onto the griptape. You can make the odd mistake here or there but if you get the proportions of the design completely wrong, it can be very difficult to fix. Often you just have to live with the mistake. To address the problem I've come up with an easy way anyone can transfer a line art design to their griptape, removing almost all the anxiety of getting the proportions wrong. In fact, you could do this with any line art design, even if you have no drawing skill at all. Watch the video below to see my technique in action and/or skip past the video where I highlight the basic steps to get your de

The Star Wars Saga: Episode II, Attack of the Clones *All Spoilers*

Continuing my series of posts, as one of my local TV stations shows every Star Wars movie in order, every Saturday, for the next six weeks leading up to the release of Star Wars, Episode VII, The Force Awakens , here is my response to and thoughts on  Star Wars, Episode II, Attack of the Clones . After The Phantom Menace I just wasn't interested in seeing Episode II in the cinema. I don't think I made any effort to see it or even had any anticipation for it's release.

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

Boom Crash Opera Born Classic But Not Again

Boom Crash Opera are an Australian Band that reached the peak of their popularity in the mid to late nineteen eighties. They are a band that I knew about at that time but was never really excited by until they released their ill fated double album Born and Born Again in 1995 (Album cover pictured). At the time of its release I was very much into emerging Australian musical acts and was also looking out for new sounds that were different and had kind of a futuristic/electronic sound. Artists that I was buying at the time included; Swoop , Nine Inch Nails and Pop Will Eat Its Self . As well as a really interesting release by David Bowie, the concept album, Outside . Born was a fairly radical departure for Boom Crash Opera (BCO). The first single, Gimme , was often compared to the sounds of Gary Glitter, particularly his single, Rock n Roll part 2 , because of the pounding drum loops. Watch the video below. My favorite single from the album is dissemble which probably went now

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

Cy Twombly. Art you can love...or not?

The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Agnes Tricoire, presents to the court a reproduction of the kiss mark on a painting by artist American Cy Twombly. Photo: MSNBC In researching this post I'm happy to say that American artist, Cy Twombly's all white artwork, 'Untitled', is an exception to his art rather than the norm. Perhaps that is why the artwork is valued at just over 2.8 million dollars and lays some credibility on my rationale in pricing my own blank canvas in my video guide to Pricing your artwork for sale . Regular readers will know my distaste for blank canvas artworks so I could not pass up this opportunity to comment on Rindy Sam, a 30 year old, female French artist, who loved Twombly's blank artwork enough to kiss it with fully, lipstick loaded, lips. The incident happened on July 19, 2007, where the painting was part of a traveling exhibition on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in the southern French city of Avignon. The kiss was described as an

St!nk
* Affiliate Link - Support our advertisers and help keep this site free *