Comedy Show Tag

GREG SHAPIRO’S WEIRDEST GIGS EVER – Podcast Interview

GREG SHAPIRO’S WEIRDEST GIGS EVER – Podcast Interview
27 June, 2022

In theater school, one of the coolest things to do was ‘site-specific’ theater. The least cool thing to do was corporate entertainment. BUT – as I quickly realized – 90% of corporate shows are ‘site-specific.’ I’ve done shows on location at offices, pop-up performances in historic buildings, and even a standup set in the business class section of a KLM 747 to Chicago.

So when I was asked to talk about my ‘weirdest gigs ever’ for the ELEKTRA Podcast, I said YES. The interview was in Dutch, with plenty of English thrown in. I talked about performing for a Dutch bachelorette party in the mid-90’s, when they chanted something to me during the show. It was months later when I realized “Broek uit! Broek uit! Broek uit, op je rug!” meant “Pants off! Pants off! Pants off, on your back!” Yes, Dutch women are very direct.

Example: Weirdest Gig Ever
Here’s an excerpt of my book THE AMERICAN NETHERLANDER: 25 Years of Expat Tales.
I was hired with Boom Chicago to do a Christmas show for a major fashion label. Apparently, there were rumors that their Dutch office might be closing, and everyone’s jobs were at risk. Luckily, the rumors were not true! At the show, the boss was going to give the good news, and then introduce us to help celebrate.

One day later, the organizing committee had changed their minds: Since we were Americans, the boss would introduce us as upper management from the New York office. Then we’d address the bad rumors, and the boss would reveal: it’s a joke! And then he would give the good news. Weird, but okay! 

Then – on the day of the show – the idea had changed again. The boss did introduce us as upper management from New York. But then he lied to his entire staff and said, “You’re all being laid off.” Next, he laughed and left the stage. We had to cut in and say, “It’s a joke! We’re hired comedians.” And then we had to do a comedy show.

Dear reader, if you can think of a worse way to start a comedy show, please insert that image here. (For example, he could have yelled, “Fire!” Or he could have actually lit the theater on fire.) The result? The audience hated us. But the boss seemed genuinely happy.

Comedian Greg Shapiro Discusses Weirdest Gigs Ever
For more of my weirdest gigs ever, check out Wouter Monden and The Elektra Podast (in Dutch):
https://www.elektrapodcast.nl/gast/greg-shapiro/

240 YEARS DOWN THE DRAIN – from George Washington to Donald Trump at Boom Chicago

240 YEARS DOWN THE DRAIN – from George Washington to Donald Trump
13 June, 2022

Comedians Pep Rosenfeld and Greg Shapiro present their 12th duo show, premiering at the Boom Chicago Comedy Festival July 7-17. Come raise a glass to the end of American democracy!

After their critically acclaimed shows ‘Trump Up the Volume’ and ‘Lock Him Up,’ Rosenfeld & Shapiro team up for a new political comedy show: ’240 YEARS DOWN THE DRAIN – from George Washington to Donald Trump.’ Because George Washington was the first president of the United States, and – come 2024 – Donald Trump might be the last.

Trump will be like: “I wanted a DO-OVER for the 2020 election. Now that I’ve won the do-over, NO MORE DO-OVERS! President for LIFE.” George Washington is known for saying “I cannot tell a lie.” Trump is known for saying “I cannot tell a lie… from the truth.”

Perhaps the best thing George Washington did for American democracy is to willingly depart after two terms as president. It’s hard to imagine Donald Trump doing that. It’s also hard to imagine Joe Biden departing after two terms – only because there’s no way he’ll live that long. 

Rosenfeld & Shapiro will use their traditional mix of standup and improv to celebrate American dysfunction. You will see a debate between Washington and Trump. You will see Inner-City Americans realize they’re not that different from rural MAGA Americans. And you will see the QAnon Proud Boys unveil their latest conspiracy theory.

Click here to see the full line-up for the BOOM CHICAGO COMEDY FESTIVAL. And our show on 11 July.
https://boomchicago.nl/boom-chicago-comedy-festival/ 

‘240 YEARS DOWN THE DRAIN – from George Washington to Donald Trump’ can be seen at the Boom Chicago Comedy Festival on 11 July at 19:30. Yes, it’s a Monday, but that won’t matter since you’re probably already gone on vacation.

…and if you can’t make it on 11 July, don’t worry! We’ve got a feeling 240 YEARS DOWN THE DRAIN will be back on a recurring basis starting this fall.

 

Greg Shapiro Presents CNC: CLIMATE NEWS COMEDY

Greg Shapiro Presents CNC: CLIMATE NEWS COMEDY
6 June, 2022

What if Climate News could be fun?
These days most people hear the term Climate and get ready for dread. And for good reason.

But the truth is there’s a sustainability boom happening, with lots of clean energy innovations that are genuinely exciting.
…Also, there’s a lot of bullshit sustainability that’s a lot more like ‘greenwashing.’ How to tell the difference?
Introducing a new weekly video series. ‘CNC: Climate News Comedy.’
Anything it takes to make climate news funny.

I’m committing myself to a weekly video of 6 jokes in 60 seconds.
And I’ll post the links as well, to share the good news.  

Greg Shapiro. Putting the GS in SDG’s.

‘G7 countries to Stop Funding Fossil Fuel Development Overseas’
…From now on they’ll only get fossil fuels from UNDER seas.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/30/g7-countries-to-stop-funding-fossil-fuel-development-overseas

‘HUNDREDS OF US CITIES COMPOSTING FOOD WASTE TO CUT TONS OF EMISSIONS.’
…Considering that you could feed that compost to an anaerobic digester and heat your home with it – this headline is kind of like celebrating a touchdown at the 50 yard line.

https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/200-us-cities-composting-food-waste-to-cut-tons-of-emissions/?utm_campaign=newsletters&utm_medium=weekly_mailout&utm_source=03-05-2022

‘California Erects Solar Panels Over Canal to Save Huge Supply of Water From Evaporation.’
…The project is scheduled to start 20 years ago, when it might have made a difference.

https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/california-erects-solar-panels-over-canals-to-save-huge-supply-of-water-from-evaporation/?utm_campaign=newsletters&utm_medium=weekly_mailout&utm_source=07-03-2022 

‘Man Creates Environmental Charity with €200m Lottery Win.’
… Isn’t that great? All we need to survive on this planet is depend on winning the lottery.   

https://www.euronews.com/green/2022/04/08/my-dream-has-never-been-to-buy-sports-cars-man-creates-environmental-charity-with-200m-jac

‘Dutch Zoo Works with Delft start-up Reefy to Restore Coral Reefs.’
…The start-up ‘Reefy’ is not to be confused with the Dutch stereotype ‘reefer,’ although they are hoping to create some ‘reefy madness.’

Dutch zoo works with Delft start-up to restore coral reefs

‘SEAGRASS – THE PLANT THAT REMOVES CARBON 30 TIMES FASTER THAN A RAINFOREST.’
…Should be grown right next to the Reefy Madness.  

https://www.euronews.com/green/2022/05/03/seagrass-the-plant-that-removes-carbon-30-times-faster-than-a-rainforest?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=green_newsletter&_ope=eyJndWlkIjoiNWRlNmU1MWRmNTNlZDM3ZjY0ZmRhZjIyYWNhNzFkNWIifQ%3D%3D

Also, I’ll put a monthly compilation on YouTube. Here’s the first one: May, 2022.

Greg Shapiro and the Office Jester Team Up for Trump Video

Greg Shapiro and the Office Jester Team Up for Trump Video
24 May 2022

We were both experts in corporate speaking, specifically comedic corporate speaking. Yet we came to our positions from completely different routes. I was a comedian / corporate speaker, and he was an academic / court jester.

1) Comedian / Corporate Speaker. Me, I started out at theater school, and I quickly transitioned to improv comedy. I came to the Netherlands to work with the Boom Chicago comedy theater in the booming 1990s – when every Dutch business became an e-business, and every Dutch office transitioned to English. Hence, Boom Chicago was quickly called upon to perform comedy for business events. Many, many business events: for Philips; Heineken; KLM; Shell; Unilever. All the biggies.

According to most comedians, corporate entertainment is the worst. “Vanilla jokes for boring events, just to get a paycheck.” But I quickly realized it can be the opportunity to ‘speak truth to power.’ We comedians can make jokes about the boss that the employees can’t. It doesn’t have to be ‘vanilla jokes.’ It can be more like a roast. Closer to the comedy speech at the White House Press Correspondents Dinner: you make jokes about the president to their face. Or, as I put it at Boom Chicago years ago: “We make fun of your boss in front of your boss, and the one who has to pay for the whole thing is your boss.”

2) Academic / Court Jester. I met Juri Hoedemakers at a networking event for Speakers Academy in Rotterdam. Juri was the man who had done his PhD on the role of the jester in the modern ‘court’ known as ‘Upper Management.’ Sounds familiar! It turns out we had come to the same place from different directions.

Juri had just written his book Gezocht: Hofnar. Reflective voor Leiders en Leidinggevenden.
Of course he did this all in Dutch (at Erasmus University). And now he’s speaking for corporate events about the importance of reflection for business leaders. According to his research, every leader has a blind spot, which is to take oneself too seriously. Leaders need jesters to help their message connect with their teams.

Juri was of course a fan of the Trump voice I did for the ‘Netherlands Second’ video on Zondag Met Lubach. So I did a quick voice recording to promote his book.
And here it is. [Video created by Jeroen Smolders]

Greg Shapiro Audiobook Preview – THE AMERICAN NETHERLANDER

Greg Shapiro Audiobook Preview – THE AMERICAN NETHERLANDER
17 May 2022

My third book THE AMERICAN NETHERLANDER: 25 Years of Expat Tales came out in 2020.


And now that the lockdown is over, I’m getting serious about an audiobook. In the meantime, you can hear me doing a reading of my Origin Story in the Netherlands – in the link below.

From Chapter One: ‘Amsterdam Day One.’

The question was: “Would you be willing to give up your acting career in Manhattan to do comedy in Amsterdam for a start-up theater called Boom Chicago?” Since I was living on tips and paying rent via credit card, the answer was an immediate YES. When you’ve tried being broke in New Amsterdam, you might as well try being broke in Old Amsterdam. 

In 1994, my idea of Amsterdam was the one shared by most Americans, I suppose: Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Anne Frank – and then sex & drugs and downhill from there. In America, if we hear about the Netherlands at all, it’s that Dutch people are all drug-doing, drug-dealing, baby- killing, grandpa-murdering, left-handed pedophiles. Once I got here, I realized it’s not true! According to most Dutch people: “That’s Belgium.” 

Before leaving Schiphol Airport, I took care of my To-Do List of Now- Anachronistic technology. I went to a place called the GWK Currency Exchange to trade my US Dollars into a totally made-up currency called Guilders. Even at the time, Guilders seemed whimsically antiquated. One of the coins they gave me said ‘2-and-a-half.’ I supposed it was from back in the days when people counted on their two-and-a-half fingers. I also bought a public transport pass called a ‘strip card,’ since access to Dutch trams somehow involved ‘stripping.’ The alternative was ‘Riding Black’ – which to me sounded like a stripper name. And lastly, I procured a phone card for making phone calls at these things called ‘public phone booths.’ These triangular, glass enclosures were also known as ‘phone boxes,’ or – in Dutch – pissoirs.

WANT TO READ MORE?
HollandBooks.nl 

OR
Listen to me reading from my book here on the ARTS TALK RADIO podcast:

The EU Needs a Late Night Comedy Show | a TED Talk by Greg Shapiro

The EU Needs a Late Night Comedy Show | a TED Talk by Greg Shapiro
6 April, 2022

Now that Europe’s best-known comedian is busy doing his Winston Churchill impression in Ukraine, Europe needs a new Head Comedian. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has given a big boost to European unity. Time to capitalize on our common sense of community?

Now more than ever, the EU needs a late night comedy show.

Granted, this argument is one I’ve been making for years. In fact it was in 2021 that I made this TED talk for TEDx VU Amsterdam: ‘The EU Needs a Late Night Comedy Show.’

It has been proven: Comedy helps cognition, especially in younger demographics – exactly the ones we need to engage. In America, a majority of 18-35 year-olds say they get most of their news from late night comedy programs, like The Daily Show. And for good reason! Jokes engage emotion. Emotion aids cognition.

More specifically, a study from the University of Pennsylvania concludes that humor helps people remember news better. And it makes them more likely to share the news with others. (watch the video)
Maybe there’s a reason for the popularity of comedy shows like The Daily Show, The Late Show, and Late Night with Seth Meyers (my former colleague).

WHY IS THERE NO LATE NIGHT COMEDY SHOW FOR THE EU?
In a way, there is. In 2017, Dutch late night comedian Arjen Lubach achieved international success with his viral video ‘Netherlands Second,’ (for which I provided the voice). There are German late night comedians like Jan Boehmermann and Oliver Welke.

Personally, I’ve hosted my a late night comedy show in the Netherlands: COMEDY CENTRAL NEWS: Because Dutch News is News Too. I’ve even hosted a YouTube version of a show called THE UNITED STATES OF EUROPE: Giving EU leaders the respect they deserve by ridiculing them on a regular basis.

My mission was to create a network of EU comedy correspondents. I would still love to make this dream a reality. All I would need is a generous subsidy from an intra-governmental agency that’s happy to throw away money on hopeless projects in arts & culture.
…THAT’S THE VERY DEFINITION OF THE EU. 

If you fund it, I will come.

The United States of Europe: MAKING FUN OF THE EU, THE AMERICAN WAY. 

WATCH:

HOW NOT TO LIVESTREAM: a Greg Shapiro Online Mini-Show

HOW NOT TO LIVESTREAM: a Greg Shapiro Online Mini-Show

25 March, 2022

Comedian Greg Shapiro follows up his tutorial ‘How NOT to Zoom’ with a new livestream mini show: HOW NOT TO LIVESTREAM.

Now that we’re all ‘Post-Covid,’ who knew The New Normal would still include Working from Home? Well, surely by now we’ve all mastered the basics of Home Studio video conferencing… NOPE. 

Time for a new training strategy: HOW NOT TO LIVESTREAM. Kick off your next online meeting with 5-10 minutes of ‘Sharing WORST Practice.’ Whether you use Zoom, Teams, or whatever – Shapiro’s interactive presentation will parody the Seven Deadly Sins of video conferencing.
Including: Flimsy Webcams; Unflattering Angles; Terrible Lighting; Embarrassing Backgrounds; Green Screen Fails; and yelling at your kids when you think you’re on mute. 

Do yourself a favor and start your next video meeting with a guaranteed icebreaker. How NOT to Livestream. Because sometimes the best HOW-TO is How NOT to.

“Hi, it’s me Greg Shapiro. Here to remind you how livestreaming from your home studio can be easy and fun! [knocks over camera]

Now that we’re all working from home, your internet connection has never been more important. So give your cable a little jiggle to make sure it’s secure. [livestream froooo-zen]

If you’d like a pro-tip life hack, you can make sure that your lighting makes you as attractive as possible. Me? I’m using a diffuser, which I got from the camera shop for just €60. [injures self with fold-out prop]

Who needs an expensive home studio lighting system, when you can rig a series of desk lamps tho this clothes hanger? And who needs an expensive laptop stand, when you can use this simple household ladder? [displays embarrassingly amateur setup]

Now, if you want to look really professional, you need to make sure you have a virtual background. And that means you need to get a green screen! [injures self with fold-out green screen]

Once you’ve got your green screen and your lighting in place, it’s time to pick an appropriate background – and start livestreaming, like a pro.
[shows wildly inappropriate virtual background]

Remote Meetings Are Dead – Long Live Hybrid Meetings! Greg Shapiro

Remote Meetings Are Dead; Long Live Hybrid Meetings!
7 March, 2022

In February I was called upon to do two separate events for Janssen Pharmaceuticals in Belgium – both remote meetings. Now that Covid restrictions are lifting in the Netherlands and Belgium, you might expect a return to 100% live events ! And you’d be wrong. Looks like hybrid meetings are the New Normal.

The first remote meeting was an expat event, and I was asked to make a 20-minute tailored video.

Would there be enough material about cultural quirks in Belgium? Oh, yes. But how far should I go in making fun of Belgium? I started out with “Who knew one country could drink so much beer? Even the children drink to excess – at least that’s what I assume since the national mascot is a boy urinating.”

I sent in my video – via WeTransfer. Would they approve? Would they even watch it before plopping it into their meeting? I didn’t hear anything back… until after the day of the meeting. The subject heading said “LOVED IT!” Phew. “We used your video at our event yesterday and it was great. It really hit the right note and was enjoyed by all. We hope to see you again – hopefully F2F next time.”

Indeed, we were hoping for F2F Face to Face next time. But the next time was a hybrid meeting. Which was fine! The second Janssen remote meeting was produced by Co-MANA, who created a pop-up studio in Belgium. There was a giant LED wall, with projections that could change themes for the two-day event.

 

There was a dedicated screen with a dedicated link to the internal Janssen team leaders. There was a live monitor. And there was a prompter screen, which doubled as a link to the Q&A moderator. And we ended with a live band, who played during the interactive quiz.

It would have been nice to have the team leaders on location, as well as the band. Heck, it would have been nice to have a fully live event. But if Hybrid Meetings are the new normal for now, i gotta say this meeting was great. 

Greg Shapiro New Comedy Show LISTPUSHER at Utrecht Int’l Comedy Festival

Greg Shapiro New Comedy Show LISTPUSHER at Utrecht Int’l Comedy Festival
3 March, 2022

Based on my experiences as a real-live (fake) politician – I’ve created a new 30-minute show called LIST PUSHER.

“List Pusher?” What’s that?

THE ORIGIN STORY
A friend of mine on Amsterdam city council asked me “Could you help us on our campaign to reach out to the expats and internationals?” And I said yes. The upcoming city council elections – the gemeenteraadsverkiezingen – are the one time expats and non-Dutch citizens can vote. Basically, if you’ve lived in the Netherlands long enough to pronounce the term gemeenteraadsverkiezingen, then maybe you can vote in the gemeenteraadsverkiezingen.

But then he asked “this time what if we don’t just have you as a volunteer – but as a symbolic candidate on the candidate list?” And – here’s how my big my ego is – I said “But wait – what if I win? If everybody votes for me, will I have to be on city council?” The answer is technically yes – but I’d be candidate 49 on a list of 50. The so-called Lijstduwer – the ‘List Pusher.’ So now I’m a pusher man. Telling expats “The first vote is free.”

WHO SHOULD I VOTE FOR
Before I could become a candidate for this party, I had to make sure it was the right party for me. Politically, I’m not too far right, but also not too far left – kind of in the middle. So I found the online voting guide called Stemwijzer. They have 30 questions, and you agree or disagree, and at the end they tell you which party is for you. As an experiment, I clicked ‘No opinion’ for every question, and the party they gave me was: D66. Because they’re right in the middle. And I thought “YES! That’s the party for me.”

(Also D66 are pro-Europe, pro-gay rights, pro-bilingual education and pro dual citizenship. You should vote for them. But don’t vote for me! I know what happens when they put a comedian in charge – the next thing you know you’re fighting off Russian missiles.)

VOTE ABM: (anyone but me)!

And come see my show:
LIST PUSHER. UTRECHT INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL
Friday 4 March
Saturday 5 March

https://utrechtinternationalcomedyfestival.nl/
https://www.ticketmaster.nl/event/big-binge-of-comedy-friday-tickets/275019

Arjen Lubach: Curse Breaker (So Says Greg Shapiro)

Arjen Lubach: Curse Breaker (So Says Greg Shapiro)
28 February, 2022

Is it time for the Netherlands to get its own long-lasting daily late night comedy show? Looks like the answer is YES. Arjen Lubach has already mastered the weekly format of John Oliver’s ‘Last Week Tonight.’ Why not go for daily? Introducing De Avondshow! It’s really good. The reviews are good. Now if only we’d give him time to really find his form…
Here are a couple of quotes I gave to Dutch newspapers about De Avondshow.

Het Parool Friday, 18 February 2022
‘Will Arjen Lubach Succeed? – ’
by Roelf Jan Duin

Pullquote: “We’re already putting De Avondshow under a magnifying glass. For Arjen, the best thing would be if we just gave him time to get into the groove and work out the bugs.”

“On Comedy Central in 2007, Greg Shapiro tried a Dutch late night comedy show: the daily Comedy Central News. Together with his improv comedy group Boom Chicago, he brought Dutch news ‘in an American way.’ He remembers how heavy it could be. “If you’re making a weekly show – like we did in season two – you can say ‘I’m just not feeling it today. Let’s try a fresh angle tomorrow.’ With a daily format, you don’t have that luxury. Having to turn out jokes on a daily basis, that inevitably produces a lot more stress.”

Actually, we should give De Avondshow plenty of time before we start looking too closely, says Shapiro. (Shapiro who in 2017 did the Trump voice for the ‘America First – Netherlands Second’ video) Remember, with Zondag Met Lubach it took a few seasons before Arjen Lubach found his form – and his ratings. At the start he was getting maximum 300,000 viewers, but during his last season he was averaging 2 million.

“We’re already putting De Avondshow under a magnifying glass. For Arjen, the best thing would be if we just gave him time to get into the groove and work out the bugs. Instead, here we are – before he’s even started with one episode – commenting on his show in the paper. We are part of the problem!”
https://www.parool.nl/kunst-media/lukt-het-arjen-lubach-wel-met-de-avondshow~bb7ba224/


De Volkskrant
Monday, 21 February 2022

‘Elke Dag Lubach’
by Ashwant Nandram.

Comedy Central News (2007)

Presenter Greg Shapiro: “When the American channel Comedy Central came to the Netherlands, they wanted to have one show with original content. They asked Boom Chicago to make a late night show, and they wanted me to host it. They were aiming for a combination of The Daily Show and The Muppet Show. And they wanted it in English.
“Our first episodes were tough, but we had a sharp learning curve. We knew from The Daily Show that it’s smart to spread the work load to different recurring correspondents. We had a roving reporter to investigate typical Dutch traits, such as forming a funeral circle for birthday parties. We had a super catty celebrity bitch. And we had a black man to comment on Zwarte Piet.

“We worked with a minimalistic budget. But after a few months they realized how expensive a daily show can be. We were getting decent ratings, but they were getting the same result from showing old episodes of Rosanne, which were way cheaper. After one season, we tried a second season only weekly. But eventually they pulled the plug.”
“The only reason we can’t seem to have a successful late night show is that Dutch people seem to be too impatient. People forget that most successful American late night stars had years to develop themselves. Jon Stewart was making The Daily Show in the dark for 3 years before people started noticing him in the 2000 election. He used that time to develop his own voice, his show’s identity. The same story for Seth Meyers taking over Late Night. So my request for the tv world: give Lubach time. Let him find his form.”
https://www.volkskrant.nl/mensen/grappig-relevant-en-snel-nieuwe-talkshow-belooft-lubachs-grootste-uitdaging-te-worden~baff13bb/