A Tractor Drive down memory lane tonight with a Fred Dagg special.
Unlike many of these things I think this will be actually worth watching.
Fred Dagg came at a time when our agonised public intellectuals, whose favourite pose was that they were the only cultured ones in a nation of barbarians, used to rend their garments in the Listener and bewail the lack of a sense of humour in New Zealand.
Fred Dagg/John Clarke proved this wrong, and – by and large – he is yet to be bettered.
One of the reasons he was so good was his humour was based on observations of New Zealanders as they are, and did something weird with them.
Of more recent local humour, BroTown has managed this, with an urban, Polynesian and very Auckland feel.
Billy T managed it occasionally. So – a bit more obscurely – did BFM about 15 years ago with their “Dad’s Tips” sketches.
Too much of our televised humour (McPhail and Gadsby, Pete & Pio being the most glaring examples) were based on taking some offshore comic ideas, usually from an amalgam of Python/Goon/Firesign/Freberg, and adapting them locally.
At times it worked, and at times they managed to go beyond this (I still treasure the memory of McPhail doing Muldoon singing Rod Stewart’s “Do you think I’m sexy?”).
Clarke/Dagg only did this sort of borrowing offshore ideas once – with the Gumboot Song, which was a takeoff of a Billy Connolly number. It was hardly his best work.
He did two much better songs: one, “We don’t know how lucky we are” is fairly well known and I’m not the only person who believes it should be our national anthem.
The other one, less well know, was on a single and called “It’s not a bad day for it.” It was a catchy, country-ish number, funny and exuberant. Great stuff.
A couple of memories: being interviewed about a brilliant idea he’d had about saving energy by running a generator off the back of the power take off on the back of the tractor.
The interviewer asking whether what was gained on electricity savings was lost on the petrol used by the tractor.
Dagg, pausing, removing the ciggie from his mouth and muttering,
“Oh yeah, you been to university, have you?”
Another one, parodying Muldoon’s speech at the National Party conference in the run up to the 10975 election, crying “Wallace Rowling has warts on his bottie! Are you going to vote for a man with warts on his bottie?”