The above video, in which Australian(*) comedian John Clarke gives a witheringly succinct summary of the present European fiscal crisis, has been making the rounds of certain parts of the internet in recent days. It is great to see Clarke’s work getting attention in the world outside Australia, because he has been putting stuff as good as this out on a weekly basis for decades now.
In fact it would be nice if Australian political satire became better appreciated in the world outside Australia more generally, because the totally tactless take no prisoners approach that much of it has can at times be refreshing in the world of bullshit in which we live. (Seriously, can you imagine anyone of any other nationality pulling off this?)
While John Clarke’s mock interviews are often hysterically funny, perhaps his greatest piece of work is the television series The Games, that ran on Australian television in 1998 and 2000. This series was a mock documentary that supposedly chronicled officials organising the Sydney 2000 Olympic games. It showed idiotic bureaucrats getting into all kinds of dubious scandals of incompetence, massive waste, and corruption. The first series of this program ran several years before the Sydney games, and was met by a certain amount of bafflement by audiences as the fact that the Olympics were indeed being run by incompetent idiots was not at that point widely appreciated. By the year 2000, actual scandals had occurred to such an extent that the program looked like a rather mild reflection of reality. The second series ran immediately before the Olympics in 2000, and people watched it, nodded, and rather wished that reality was not like that.
Two years out from the London Olympics of 2012, we have seen nothing anywhere near this harsh in the British media. Perhaps this is because British television lacks the viciousness of certain parts of Australian television. (Print media are completely the other way round. Australian newspapers entirely lack the viciousness of the London tabloids). If the BBC or any of the other television networks over here had any style, they would simply take the Australian program from 1998 and run it. In prime time.
(*) Clarke is actually a New Zealander, in about the same sense that William Shatner is a Canadian.