John Clarke, A Complete Dagg, Allen & Unwin/Haynes

Despite the title, this book is not a collection of Fred Dagg's ruminations. John Clarke has already dealt with his famous alter-ego in previous books. Rather, A Complete Dagg, his somethingth book, don't quote me on that, I'll have to confirm that, is a brilliant collection of laconic laughter-inducing levity and lampooning, and something else, alliteration or something, which I for one think is quite all right.

Now just take a look at the contents. I think you'll agree with me when I say that this is a beauty. A real beauty. He starts things up with some brilliant observations on the state of various Australian institutions, such as Queensland, the New Right, banking (very timely) and Australia Post ("We've started at a rudimentary level with a massive television campaign designed to teach people what Post Office is... We're explaining: (a) What a Post Office is. (b) Who those people are, in Post Office uniforms, who deliver your mail..."). Now this section sounds suspiciously to me like the words of Frederick Dagg, and in fact on the lead-in page it does have "Fred Dagg" written on the top, but this, I believe, does not destroy my original hypothesis, i.e., this book has lots of stuff.

Some of the other bits which I liked a lot were the interview with David Hill, and the run-down of a week's programming on the ABC ("David Hill recommends 'The Last Resort'. Tonight at 8.30pm"). In fact this bit has to be the funniest in the book. Regular ABC viewers, all six of them, will especially appreciate (and recognise) the scheduling of Four Corners, Edge of Darkness and The Singing Detective at 12.00am, 12.02am, and 1.30am Wednesday night, respectively. I loved the SBS bit too (10.40: The Movie Show. Featuring Margaret and David. Cleverly-crafted psycho-drama about the partners in an up-market bughouse tormenting one another).

I could go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on about the things in this book, and in fact I have, but when it comes down to it the last word, with utmost finality, here it is, is to go out and buy it. Yes, part with those dollars and treat yourself to a feast of John Clarke's magnificent wit. I still haven't mentioned the "Australianform" and the "Australia Operation Manual" (Problem: Greenhouse Effect; Probable Cause: Greed; What to do: Nothing). But I have now. So go and get this. If you want. On the other hand, you might not want. It's up to you really. Anyway, I'll see ya later!


First published in Togatus, 10 August 1989.
This page: 28 February 2000; last modified 8 May 2018.

©1989, 2000 Rory Ewins