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Something worth watching

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.

9 comments to Something worth watching

  • Love the chasers’ war on everthing. :D

  • Ben

    To be clear, the borrowers are governments, the lenders are institutional investors, AKA pension funds, AKA, your grandmother.

    It’s not Italy owes Spain, Spain owes Italy, it’s Italian Government owes Spanish investors, Spanish Government owes Italian investors.

    If you forget that none of it makes sense.

  • RAB

    It makes sense?

  • Bruce Hoult

    Don’t forget the classic “The Front Fell Off”!!

    Classic Clarke in NZ in the 70’s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efrZdbDh5tk

  • “Two years out from the London Olympics of 2012, we have seen nothing anywhere near this harsh in the British media.”

    This may well be down to the fact that Chris Morris has been otherwise occupied, making “Four Lions”.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s now working on something Olympics-related. If so, I’ll bet he’ll have tried to get Plympic funding for it, too :-).

  • ChrisV

    The British have contributed to modern political satire with the excellent show “The Thick of It” and even better spinoff film “In the Loop”, which I discovered recently. Very much recommended to Samizdata readers.

    The Games was a great show. The old current affairs satire series “Frontline” is brilliant if you can get hold of it.

  • New Zealanders are effectively Australian citizens who don’t pay taxes to Canberra. About like what Heinlein said about Canadians effectively being US citizens who don’t pay taxes to Washington. Until they live in those other countries of course.

  • Donk

    Personally I can’t stand Clarke, he’s a smug ass. And his mock interviews with Dawe are just so blatantly ripped off from Bird and Fortune.

    The Chaser lot are just tossers, Sydney private school leftist wankers. Remember their newspaper they used to hawk around Sydney? It was about as funny as mildew.

  • swimmerman

    Hey @Donk, Bird and Fortune copied Clarke and Dawe. Not the other way around. Look it up.