Clive James, 1939-2019

Clive James, the Australian writer, broadcaster, comedian and poet, is dead at 80.

James was renowned for his pithy turns of phrase. He once likened Arnold Schwarzenegger to "a brown condom full of walnuts" and said motor racing commentator Murray Walker sounded "like a man whose trousers are on fire". ... "Common sense and a sense of humour are the same thing, moving at different speeds," was another of his famous quotes.He also had advice for his future obituarists, telling them "shorter is better, and that a single line is best".

"Any encounter with James, either in print or in person, left you desperate to go and open a book, watch a film or a TV show, or hunt down a recording," said Don Paterson, poetry editor at James's publisher Picador.

James was funny and silly enough to be enjoyed by children, but smart and deep enough to grow into--an Umberto Eco of things normal people see and read. Among other things, he was first to introduce the sadistic marvels of Japanese game shows to British television. He was diagnosed as terminally-ill almost a decade ago, and his dry wit became positively arid as he continued to outpace death in his last years. But also light and, when the occasion called for it, joyous.