John Clarke, Australian Comedian, Writer, And Satirist Dead At 68

Celebrated Australian comedian John Clarke died at the age of 68. The satirist and comedian passed away suddenly while doing the thing he loved the most in the world.

John Clarke’s family members broke the news on Sunday when they issued a statement to ABC News, saying the satirist died of natural causes while hiking in Victoria’s Grampians national park over the weekend.

The statement read that John Clarke had been bushwalking and taking photos of birds at the park – the things he loved the most in the world – when his heart suddenly stopped beating.

John Clarke’s family noted in the statement that the Australian comedian was with his wife Helen and friends at the time of death.

“He is forever in our hearts.”

John Clarke’s family also added that John Clarke would have “greatly appreciated” all the messages expressing sympathy and love following the comedian’s passing.

John Clarke, who is originally from New Zealand, received global fame thanks to his comedic pieces for the ABC TV’s Clarke and Dawe sketches.

But John Clarke, who started his career as a satirist in the 1970s, is especially loved and famous in Australia as well as his native New Zealand. For nearly three decades, John Clarke was a prominent figure on Australian television, recording hilarious interviews and mocking politicians and politics as a whole with his sketch partner Bryan Dawe.

John Clarke was not only a celebrated comedian and satirist, but also an actor, book writer, and screenwriter for TV, cinema, and stage musicals.

John Clarke arrived on national television in his native New Zealand in the 1970s when he introduced his character, Fred Dagg.

John Clarke then went on to co-write award-winning mockumentary The Games, which centered on the Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games.

John Clarke’s writing credentials include stage musicals The Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, while his best-known books are A Dagg at My Table, The Howard Miracle, and The 7.56 Report.

John Clarke is survived by his wife Helen, whom he shares two children with, Lorin and Lucia. The satirist also has two grandchildren Claudia and Charles.

Although politicians often became targets of John Clarke’s ruthless mockery, several prominent figures from politics paid tribute to Clarke following his death on Sunday.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who was often mocked by John Clarke and his satiric partner Dawe, told reporters during his visit to India that Clarke was “more than a satirist,” according to The Australian.

“He understood us – all of us – not just prime ministers but all of us better than anyone.”

Tributes to John Clarke’s contribution to comedy and satire kept rolling in from other former Prime Ministers.

The 27th Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, took to Twitter on Sunday to express her sadness following John Clarke’s sudden death.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Bill English, also paid tribute to John Clarke on Twitter, referring to the iconic satirist as Fred Dagg, the comedian’s famous character from the ’70s.

Tributes for John Clarke kept rolling in with Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten describing the satirist as the “sharpest, driest wit on Aussie TV,” and Greens leader Richard Di Natale calling Clarke a “leading light of satire.”

John Clarke’s comedy colleagues also expressed their sadness following the satirist’s death, with Charlie Pickering, host of ABC’s comedy slot The Weekly, saying Clarke deserved the Nobel Prize, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Max Gillies, for whom John Clarke wrote The Gillies Report in 1984, said Clarke had “an incalculable gift” for comedy.

[Featured Image by Kristian Dowling/Getty Images]