The voice of the ‘Netherlands Second’ video is back! In his new show Leaving Trumpland, Greg Shapiro (Boom Chicago, Comedy Central, BNR, ZDF) is here to celebrate Donald J Trump: “The J is for Genius.” Donald Trump – America’s first ‘Reality Show President,’ where it’s never about Reality; it’s all about The Show.
Will Trump win in 2020? Or will he lose and still declare victory? Leaving Trumpland is a guide to how we put Trump behind us, or – if he declares himself President for Life – it’s Shapiro’s plan to establish America 2.0 in Europe.
Greg Shapiro: Comedian. American. Dutchman. His latest book How to Be Dutch: the Quiz is available internationally. His YouTube show ‘United States of Europe’ has over 3.8 million views. And as the Trump impersonator from the ‘Netherlands Second’ video, he has over 50 million views worldwide.
Written and Performed by: Greg Shapiro
Directed by: Michael Diederich.
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‘SHARP SATIRE OF TRUMP’S AMERICA’
– reviewed by Kester Freriks
At first glance, there is no resemblance whatsoever between stand-up comedian Greg Shapiro and US President Donald Trump. The former has a narrow face and black hair, the other an orange complexion and ditto hair. But once Shapiro starts imitating Trump’s voice – and especially his gestures – the similarity is astonishing. So astonishing that after Zondag met Lubach on January 22, 2017, many believed that the real Trump was welcoming himself to the Netherlands as the 45th president of the United States. It was Shapiro’s voice. Within one day the ‘Netherlands Second’ video reached 24 million viewers.
This was Shapiro’s finest moment, and it’s a fitting starting place for his latest show Leaving Trumpland. Shapiro has lived in the Netherlands, in Amsterdam, for a quarter of a century and calls himself ‘half Dutch’ or a ‘Dutchman.’ He is from Chicago, Illinois, and since 1994 he has been a comedian with Boom Chicago, the creative comedy group on Amsterdam’s Rozengracht (in the former Mickery Theater).
Leaving Trumpland is the right show at the right time, just ahead of the US presidential election in early November. When the show mentions the famous Trump video, Shapiro recalls the telephone conversation with his mother, who [was unclear whose voice] was actually on Dutch television. With this satirical and unprecedentedly perfect Trump imitation as a starting point, Shapiro takes the viewer on a storm through a very fast narrated performance.
He draws inspiration from his Dutch citizenship, using it to see the American situation from a different perspective. Convincingly, he lists the reasons to leave America – not just ‘Trumpland’: the extremely expensive schools, the bad public transport, the insane amounts of fatty food in the hamburger restaurants – and not being able to breathe. Shapiro references “I can’t breathe”, the words of the Black Lives Matter movement and the last words of George Floyd, among others, to symbolize Trump’s America. A land that cannot breathe.
Especially in the first half, Shapiro’s comedy is razor-sharp. He wonders what will happen to America if Trump is re-elected, but he wonders just as desperately what if the results favor his opponent Joe Biden. Shapiro – from an empty stage with only a barstool and a glass of water – laments that one half of America is on fire and the other half is under water from hurricanes. Then he comes up with a Trump-ian solution: take the map of America, lift up the piece that’s underwater and tilt it so the water puts out the fires. Problem solved. A beautiful parody of Trump’s thinking.
Shapiro, like Trump, keeps his eyes half closed and his mouth wide open. And he uses his hands to make the signature Trump gestures. Shapiro continually shifts from left to right and back again, while explaining the difference between the Republican ‘red-states’ and the Democratic ‘blue-states,’ as the lighting in the background also shifts from red to blue.
It’s also the difference between Fox News and the more reliable CNN news. The fact that the television is on in every restaurant everywhere in America was another reason to flee the country. The constant frenzy of ‘breaking news’ means in fact the news is broken. Suppose an airplane makes an unscheduled landing because of a crack in a window. For cable news, this is a reason to declare all air traffic unsafe, and to bring in the eternal experts to have their say. It’s madness at its best, and that’s how Shapiro presents it, brilliantly and witty.
Gradually, the show takes a personal turn. Shapiro tells the story of his step-father in a nursing home and how he caught COVID-19 – despite following all the rules. It was the roommate who didn’t follow the rules, causing the step-father to die shortly after. Next came the family memorial, conducted via Zoom – which leads to hilarious scenes. Here his performance is personal and sensitive.
Inevitably, he connects the Netherlands with the color orange. He also wrote a book about this Dutch royal color, How to Be Orange. But doesn’t Trump also have an orange complexion? Certainly. “That’s from Trump’s Covid treatment, based on antibodies from the cells of Dutch babies. Didn’t you hear?” Shapiro asks. That truth hits hard, causing something of a shock in the audience. Shapiro responds by admitting it is “yes, it’s dark,” but that comes from his step-father, who had a dark sense of humor.
Thus ends Shapiro’s trip through America, with a personal story. A poignant reminder of the real-life, disastrous results of Donald Trump’s presidency. Shapiro jokes that Trump may be the last-ever president of the country formerly known as America – a joke which might not be a joke. Shapiro’s satire is sharp but never offensive, which makes it all the more convincing.
(reviewer: Kester Freriks)
Excerpt of ‘LEAVING TRUMPLAND’ on Dutch TV program ‘Cultuurexplosie Live’