Clark and Dawe — Great Satire From Australia

Clark and DaweJohn Clarke and Bryan Dawe are two, well, Australian comedians. It’s hard to peg them. For one thing, Clarke is actually from New Zealand, but I’m an American and so that’s close enough. Also, they do an awful lot of different work. I suspect that both of them think of themselves as writers more than anything. Also, they are somewhat unevenly matched, with Clarke being a bigger star than Dawe.

That’s probably why they generally haven’t been considered a comedy team. In fact, in as much as they are a comedy team, it is presented on John Clarke’s website, Clarke and Dawe Project.

Clark and Dawe Begin

But back in 1989, the two of them started performing mock interviews for the Australian television program A Current Affair. What’s wonderful about these is that they are very easy to mistake for a real interview. Indeed, on YouTube is a video clip, Australian Idiot Talks About Whale Death FUNNY. The person posting it wrote in the description, “Watch this Australian guy (who I think is running for some kind of elected office) talk about the death of a whale in an interview.” Now that might be a con, but there is no indication on his YouTube channel and it is posted as News & Politics, not Comedy.

And the truth is, it is easy enough to get confused. James sent me the following video, and it took me roughly 10 seconds to figure out that it was not serious. James was apparently looking for information about an oil spill on 21 July 1991 that occurred to the Kirki when it lost its bow. I assume this segment was done within a month of it, at most. Their work has always been topical.

They did interviews like this from 1989 to 1997, and then stopped.

On The 7.30 Report

Some time later (I’m not sure — I assume a few years), Clarke and Dawe returned on a different Australian current affairs program, The 7.30 Report. According to Wikipedia, they did this act pretty much once per week until 2012 (The 7.30 Report became simply 7.30 in 2011).

The following video is from the end of that period. It is clearly making fun of tabloid king Rupert Murdoch. But the story is about Australian model Lara Bingle. And the subtext is that the newspapers are running some kind of vague stories just so they can publish pictures of this young woman — most likely in a bikini.

But there is another side to it, that I relate to. A lot of the time there are big stories and they don’t seem to be about anything that anyone actually cares about.

I probably should explain the Shakespeare jokes there, but you can just look it up. Or just realize that Dawe is right — Polonius is definitely not in Romeo and Juliet. In fact, he isn’t even in much of Hamlet, but he does do a lot of talking while he’s still alive.

Their Very Own Show

In 2013, they got their own show, Clarke and Dawe. As you can see by the link, it still seems to be going. Over the years, they’ve broadened their act. For example, there are a number of segments that are kind of like game shows, European Debt Crisis. (Note: it’s funny, but they miss the biggest point about what what going on — and continues to — in the EU.)

Here is one of the last things they did at the end of last year, “Some Great Xmas Gift Ideas Here.” The part about the Australian superhero is hilarious. But the whole thing ends kind of darkly — brilliantly — but darkly.

You really should check out Clarke and Dawe. They are quite brilliant. I spent well over an hour watching these two-minute bits and never got tired of them.

3 thoughts on “Clark and Dawe — Great Satire From Australia

  1. I thought “that’s it, I’ve snapped.” Because I could not remember for the fuck of me who the character in R & J named Polonius was. Wait a minute — that’s the wrong play. Oh, Lord, that made me laugh.

    Wow, these two are dry. The tradition of Python and Wilde is still with us. And now I finally have a comic-book superhero I can like. Captain Disappointment. He never disappoints! Well, he does, but he never disappoints at being disappointing. I will not disclose his secret identity. I will only reveal these clues; his normal-life alter ego spells his name like I do, is the same age, and — oddly for an Australian superhero — lives in Minnesota. (It’s part of the disguise.) Perhaps I have said too much. Ignore that part, and Bob’s your uncle.

  2. I’d seen one or tow of their pieces before, but there’s obviously a lot that’s great – such as on the BP Gulf oil spill (to his side – “can you Google something for me? Relegations? Regulations? Well, Google them both”):

    If you like them, quite similar are the British pair, John Bird and John Fortune – for instance, on the subprime crisis:
    (that was broadcast in October 2007, so they spotted the crisis early)

    • The unfortunate stereotyping aside (there was a lot of that going around back then), that’s a really good breakdown on what what actually happening with the financial industry. I understood the housing bubble bursting immediately (that’s what bubbles do), but it took me ages of reading about “tranched securities” and such to get a handle on the financial part. Those guys explain it brilliantly. They remind me of what John Oliver and Sam Bee are doing now.

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