The premiere was a success! ‘GREG SHAPIRO SAVES THE CLIMATE: 60 Minutes of Climate Good News’ at De Nieuwe Anita in Amsterdam. The next show is 7 December in Haarlem:
Based on a True Story
My day job involves speaking and hosting at corporate events – increasingly for Dutch green startups and leaders in sustainability. Inspiring stuff, actually. So I thought: “why not make a show about it? With d**k jokes.”
So far I’ve got funny stories and inspiration to share about events for:
Boskalis Offshore Wind Energy
HZI Waste-to-Energy Power Plants
The European Sleeper Overnight Train (sustainable alternative to short-haul flights)
Kipster Sustainable Chicken Farm
Mosa Meat Lab-grown hamburger
NRC “How Green Are We” Survey
TU Delft Energy Transition event
TU Eindhoven Pitch Coaching for Green Startups
WUR Wageningen Food X – the food of the future
Koppert Agriculture – the Future of Farming
And I was even hired by a company called New Motion to standardize EV charging stations in Europe. But then I was fired – because apparently the startup had been bought out by Shell Oil, and Shell “wanted to move in a different direction.” (f**k those guys.)
Climate Feel-Good News?
And – to be clear – when I say #climategoodnews – I’m not talking about “Feelgood News,” which is largely bullshit.
In fact part of the show is about how to spot Fake Good News. For example:
Norway announces world’s largest floating offshore wind farm (which will power existing oil & gas extraction).
California unveils world’s largest EV fast-charging station (powered partially by diesel generators).
Indonesia introduces new biofuel for jet engines (based on palm oil).
The opening was part of the Nutty Anita’s Solo Nights, at De Nieuwe Anita in Amsterdam. And it was a nicely full house. Thanks to Amsterdam’s ‘Maestro of the underground’ Ken Parsons for producing. And thanks to Amsterdam’s Maeva Dolle for being the opening act. Her solo hour is well underway.
GREG SHAPIRO SAVES THE CLIMATE: 60 Minutes of Climate Good News – Thurs 7 December @De Dakkas Haarlem
18 sept., 2023
Hooray! I hosted another green event, this time for a sustainable chicken farm called Kipster.
Kipster (not Kipsta) started with 2 Dutch chicken farms, creating the world’s first carbon neutral eggs. Now this Dutch business is expanding into the US, and to host their launch event, they called me: The American Netherlander. The event took place in North Manchester, Indiana (23 Aug). And Queen Maxima even taped a video message.
To prepare, I met with one of the founders Olivier Wegloop, who is a vegan and animal rights activist. Here he is in the blue shirt behind me (gawd it was hot in that tent…)
Olivier believes in the writings of animal rights activists like Temple Grandin, who said: “nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be. If we are raising animals to be eaten, at least we can treat them with some respect.“ (and then we got to interview Grandin… see below) Since chickens are traditionally forest animals, Kipster has created – not only a cage-free environment, but – a fun forest.
As you can see, they still lay plenty of eggs.
Another Kipster founder is Ruud Zanders, who explained the main reason their chickens are carbon neutral: they feed the chickens food waste.
Every year A) humanity grows enough food to feed 4 billion people – and then we give it to livestock, B) of all the food we produce, we waste about 33%. Kipster simply asks: “Why not feed the chickens food waste?” The motto of Kipster is “Crops should be about Food not Feed.” This ground-breaking strategy is actually thousands of years old. But …
KIPSTER’S REVOLUTIONARY TWIST
The revolutionary part of Kipster is: Roosters for Meat.
Since male chickens don’t lay eggs – and they’re considered too gamey to eat – the normal practice on chicken farms is to kill baby male chicks they day they hatch. (The waste product is hopefully repurposed into things like pet food.) But Kipster asks “what if we let the roosters grow to maturity (and then we eat them)? How gamey are they really?”
To end the event, Kipster served up the first-ever rooster meatballs. I met with Managing Director Sandra Vijn to try one. And I thought it the texture was perfect. The tray of ‘Boom Boom’ rooster balls was not finished at closing time, and I was afraid it might become food waste… but I suppose the rooster meat was fed to the hens. What better way to say ‘Death to the Patriarchy’ -?
Thanks to Olivier Wegloop for putting this event together. He was the one who arranged an interview with Dr Temple Grandin – via Livestream. Dr. Grandin is famously autistic, and she demanded to see all the questions in advance. Then – as soon as Olivier asked his first question – she just went on a rant about sustainable farming and animal behavior and didn’t stop. She’s a legend!
Thank you to Olivier & Sandra for inviting me. Thank you to the Dutch Consulate of Chicago for putting us in touch (years ago). And thank you to Markey’s Event Services who created the backbone for an extremely professional show – including full build and build-down in extreme heat. And they made it look easy.
Greg Shapiro Helps Celebrate ‘4 More Years’ of Castro Communicatie, May 2023
31 July, 2023
How do you celebrate your 4th anniversary as a Dutch political consultancy? With a political-themed party called “Four More Years!” Dutch communication and lobbying agency Castro Communicatie hired me to help them celebrate their fourth birthday, at The Loft in the A’dam Tower Amsterdam.
Stefan de Bruijn, Greg Shapiro, Frits Huffnagel
I asked if “Four More Years” might seem too partisan for their clientele? But of course – in the upcoming 2024 US election – the term “Four More Years” could apply to two different candidates: Biden and Trump. So “Four More Years” it was! They wanted an event with all the hype and hollering of American campaign – but with a Dutch twist. Who better to help them than The American Netherlander?
Castro Communicatie gets its name from the Castro district in San Francisco, the historic gay capital of the US. The two business partners (who also have male life partners) are Stefan de Bruijn and Frits Huffnagel. (aka S+F for SF: San Francisco). And they base their political consulting on the American model, so a connection to the USA seemed a perfect fit. (And then of course there’s Fidel Castro, who was famous for giving political speeches lasting for hours – which Frits and Stefan try to avoid.)
My job was to host the video presentations – and give a 20-minute keynote speech about the 4-year history of Castro Communicatie and the unique appeal of their Dutch-American style. In English, of course. Were there some older folks who didn’t like standing? Yes. Was there a MAGA hat or two? Yes. And was there one tired guy right up front? Also yes. Luckily, I’ve been trained to focus on people who are laughing, and that was most of them.
They did a great job organizing this event – with real popcorn!
And I got to meet the DJ, who is also a former client and currently the mayor of Halderberge in Brabant: Bernd ROKS!
Congrats Castro Communicatie! We wish you a happy 4 more years.
Background: Two Dutch entrepreneurs (and train nerds) created a startup company to offer more overnight train service throughout Europe. And – after years of crowd-funding and organizing – the day of the maiden voyage had arrived! While the two founders were focused on preparing the photo moment of the train departing… the event organizer told them they really should consider a professional host for the launch event.
I was told that the two founders were nervous and rather serious. So – as soon as I met them, I said “I hear you two are entrepreneurs… but I assume you’re primarily train nerds?” And I asked if I could take a selfie with them. Here’s what we got:
I could tell this was going to be fun.
The launch event was held in the Pullman Hotel. Hence, my intro wrote itself: “The Pullman Hotel refers, I assume, to George Mortimer Pullman – the inventor of the first railroad sleeping car. And where did George Pullman set up his business? Chicago, Illinois – which is where I’m from. …Hence, my entire life has been leading up to this moment!”
THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN
I had to ask a question of the two founders. “Everyone knows there’s a term for having sex on a plane: ‘The Mile-High Club.’ So why is there no term for having sex on a train?” And I was quickly corrected by founder Chris Engelsman, with a perfect deadpan delivery: “There is a term, actually. It’s called ‘The Mile-Long Club.’”
The event ended with the Belgian transport minister taking the stage and announcing the news: the Belgian parliament had voted to grant a subsidy to The European Sleeper and their Goodnight Train. Hey, I was already thrilled to hear that Belgium had a functioning government.
The train arrived on time and departed on time, with many happy first-time passengers.
And look at serious entrepreneur Chris Engelsman as the European Sleeper train arrives in the station.
The Goodnight Train is now running regularly from Brussels to Amsterdam to Berlin. https://www.europeansleeper.eu/en
Next up, they plan to extend service to Prague. Soon, there will be a new service from Brussels to Barcelona. It’s like playing real-life game of Ticket to Ride!
Thanks to the excellent Alvin Williams at JMT Management for organizing a memorable event. Extra thanks for all the photos.
Greg Shapiro is a Dutch American comedian who gathered world fame with his vocal impersonation of Donald Trump in the viral ‘Netherlands Second’ video. He started his career as a member of the comedy group Boom Chicago and became a popular speaker at business events. “Humor is the safest option at a serious business event.”
Greg Shapiro was seven years old when he saw the first season of Saturday Night Live. “That’s when I knew I wanted to be a comedian. And I found out that John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray all started their careers at this one theater called The Second City. And it was in my hometown, Chicago! ‘The Second City,’ as in ‘New York first, Chicago second.’ …It was indeed my destiny.”
“Totally changed my life, bigly. Hyuge! Hahaha. I don’t know if the ‘Netherlands Second’ video changed my life, but I did enjoy hearing that it was used by the Dutch foreign ministry for trade missions! Personally, I used my Trump impression for a whole standup show – as well as for conferences like The Next Web. We interrupted the show with screens saying ‘Donald Trump Live by Phone’ and had me doing a voiceover from offstage. Then Trump would improvise his reaction to how the conference was going so far. It’s a formula we used many times since!”
When is humor a good recipe for a serious business event?
“Humor is always good. Even during a serious business event, humor can actually be the safest option. I recently hosted an event where the CEO wanted me to create an informal atmosphere – a ‘safe space’ for the audience to feel comfortable asking the difficult questions. And sure enough, someone asked about accusations of ‘greenwashing.’ The CEO gave a serious answer and admitted that in the past few years the accusations were partly true. And that’s why they’d appointed their first-ever Chief Sustainability Officer. Once he was done, I turned the humor back up to 100% by saying that if anyone complains about Dutch companies not being green enough, remind them that Shell Oil is now located in the UK.”
What is your expert advice for hosts and speakers who want to be funny?
“Good news! You don’t have to do anything – just be yourself. As we say in improv comedy, ‘Truth is funnier than fiction.’ All you need is a good co-host to help you be yourself. You need a good wing man!”
Hire an Event Organizer for Christmas – by Greg Shapiro 16 December, 2022
Dear Corporate Event Planners, IT’S NOT TOO LATE to HIRE AN EVENT ORGANIZER.
There’s a noticeable trend I’ve observed this year: some of the wealthiest companies in the country are making rookie mistakes at their events.
The good news: Hooray! The Covid lockdown is officially behind us, and we can have Christmas / Year-End events again.
The bad news: No one remembers how to organize events anymore! Remember Marloes / Marlies / Marjolein? The one who USED to know who to call to organize all the events? She left during the Great Reset, didn’t she? And you didn’t replace her yet, did you?
The FIRST thing she would do is: HIRE AN EVENT ORGANIZER. But too often I’ve seen this logic this year: “I’ll organize it myself. How hard can it be?” And now you’re finding out the hard way: HOW HARD IT CAN BE.
STEP 1: THE FOOD.
Recently, I was at an event where I heard:
“We wanted a Christmas party where everyone is invited. Even the kitchen staff!”
Who’s going to serve the food?
“We’ll just use the kitchen staff – they’ll already be there.”
And yes, the food was served – but no one cleared the plates. The half-eaten food just stacked up on the tables, like at a fraternity party. “Merry Christmas!”
STEP 2: THE TECH TEAM.
“I’m sure the location will provide their own technician-?” Yes, and – they know how to set up the gear …but they don’t always know how to run it. I was at a major B2B event, where they’d hired an A-lister TV personality to play host for a crowd of 700. They’d even put up video screens to beam the host to the tables at the back – but they forgot to turn them on. The result: half the crowd couldn’t see, and they talked through the whole show. “We paid enough for the TV star – why should we also pay for extra technicians?”
STEP 3: THE ENTERTAINMENT.
“We’ll get the DJ we hired last time. And we’ll hire that comedian I know from the gym!”
Result: The comedian is expected to perform in front of the DJ set-up. Aka: Amateur hour.
Or – yes they thought of a stage, but no they didn’t think of lighting. Or background.
“And who needs to hire an MC? I’ll just do it myself.”
Last time, our host introduced the first comedian DURING the first course of the meal. Making sure everyone was eating and chatting instead of listening. The result was this:
It was something like a horror show.
HIRE AN EVENT ORGANIZER for Christmas.
Here is a list of event organizers I like to work with. CALL THEM!
And hire back Marloes / Marlies / Marjolein as soon as possible.
LEF Marketing & Events
Anyone I’m forgetting? I’m making my list and checking it twice…
Greg Shapiro ‘NETHERLANDS CHEERLEADER’ – Speakers Academy Magazine, 2022-23 by Jacques Geluk
Greg Shapiro is world-famous, ever since he perfectly imitated Donald Trump’s voice in Arjen Lubach’s ‘Netherlands Second’ video. (It’s since been viewed almost 30 million times). Shapiro is already known in the Netherlands for his work with Boom Chicago comedy theater, and previously as host and writer of Comedy Central News. Now, he is also an author and vlogger, and he frequently focuses on the Netherlands and Dutch innovations – a self-proclaimed ‘cheerleader for the Netherlands.’
Shapiro moved to the Netherlands in 1994 and is married to a Dutch woman. “Came for work, stayed for love.” By now he has lived here more than half his life, hence he knows both American and Dutch culture quite well. He often gives a ‘Masterclass’ in Dutch culture called ‘Culture Shock Therapy,’ or additionally ‘How to Be Dutch: the Quiz.’
Given Shapiro’s unique Dutch-American status, he is a popular bilingual speaker at major events. He is known for hosting or performing for NATO, for the president of France, and for King Willem Alexander. “I’ve lived here long enough to be proud of the Netherlands, but I’m still American enough to not care how loud I am about it,” says Greg in his native language. “I am frequently asked by Dutch or multinational companies for business events, often to talk about culture shock. I confront the stereotypes like sex, drugs – and Dutch cheapness. Then I go into more detail, realizing that it’s actually better here than I was used to in America. As ‘The American Netherlander’ [which is also the title of his last book from 2020], I am already a fan of Dutch inventions, innovations, water management. I’ve become a kind of cheerleader.”
Shapiro finds it interesting that the ‘Netherlands Second’ video has been used by Prince Constantijn and the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency during trade missions – as a kind of business card. “And as far as water management is concerned, yes there’s the Afsluitdijk – a marvel of water engineering. And there’s the Deltaworks in Zeeland – but also the New Orleans Deltaworks, built with the help of Dutch engineers at Royal Haskoning. It’s like the old commercials from Centrale Beheer: ‘Have a problem? Better call the Netherlands.’ Hurricane Katrina? Better call the Netherlands. Containership stuck in the Suez Canal? Better call the Netherlands (Boslkalis).”
“So many examples to mention! And not only foreigners are surprised to learn these companies are Dutch – it’s Dutch people too. Dutch folks are not giving themselves enough credit. That’s where I come in. And I’m collecting new examples all the time – for the shows and projects I do for clients like TU Delft, for Mosa Meat (lab-grown ‘cultivated’ meat) and for Wageningen University & Research.”
Event Host of the day
As an ‘improv comedian’, Greg Shapiro is also the almost ideal event host of the day. He puts guests, audience and organizations at ease with a lot of humor and always without being rude. If something goes wrong with the sound, a speaker who is not comfortable, the timing or the connection during a webinar… he improvises immediately, thanks to his many years of theater experience. “The unexpected actually makes it all a bit more lively and interesting for everyone.”
Greg Shapiro NETHERLANDS CHEERLEADER – in het nederlands
‘Een Cheerleader voor Nederland’
Hij is wereldberoemd sinds hij de stem van Donald Trump perfect heeft geïmiteerd in Arjen Lubachs ‘Netherlands Second’ video (inmiddels bijna 30 miljoen keer bekeken). Greg Shapiro is al bekend via Boom Chicago theater en als gastheer en schrijver van Comedy Central News. Nu is hij ook auteur en vlogger, met als onderwerp Nederland en Nederlandse innovaties. Hij is een zelfbenoemd ‘cheerleader van Nederland.’
Greg Shapiro woont sinds 1994 in Nederland en is getrouwd met een Nederlandse. Doordat hij nu al meer dan de helft van zijn leven hier woont kent hij zowel de Amerikaanse als de Nederlandse cultuur heel goed en kan hij ze naast elkaar leggen. Vaak geeft hij een ‘Masterclass’ in Nederlandse cultuur die heet ‘Culture Shock Therapy,’ of zelfs ‘How to Be Dutch: the Quiz.’
Mede daardoor is hij een gewilde tweetalige spreker op grote evenementen, voor zelfs de president van Frankrijk, de NAVO, en voor Koning Willem Alexander. “I’ve lived here long enough to be proud of the Netherlands, but I’m still American enough to not care how loud I am about it”, zegt Greg in zijn eerste moedertaal.
“Ik word meestal gevraagd door multinationale bedrijven voor grote B2B evenementen. Vaak praat ik over cultuurschok, de stereotypes met thema’s als seks, drugs – en de Nederlandse bescheidenheid. Daarna ga ik er dieper op in, beseffend dat het hier eigenlijk beter is dan ik gewend was in Amerika. Eigenlijk ben ik als ‘The American Netherlander’ (wat ook de titel is van mijn laatste boek uit 2020) al fan van Nederlandse uitvindingen, innovaties, watermanagement en andere technieken. Ik ben een soort cheerleader geworden.”
Hij vindt het interessant dat de ‘Netherlands Second’- video is gebruikt door prins Constantijn en het Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency tijdens handelsmissies als een soort visitekaartje. “Wat het watermanagement betreft benoem ik net als in de video de Afsluitdijk, een wonder van waterengineering, en maak ik de connectie met de deltawerken, en met de New Orleans deltawerken gebouwd met hulp van Nederlanders. Even Nederland bellen. Ik heb zo veel leuke voorbeelden te noemen! Vaak zijn buitenlanders verbaasd te horen dat de uitvoerende bedrijven Nederlands zijn. Maar vaak zijn ook Nederlanders zelf verbaasd! Dat verwerk ik allemaal in mijn lezingen, voor TU Delft, voor Mosa Meat (kweekvlees) en ook voor een project met Wageningen Universiteit & Research.”
Greg introduceert ook zijn vernieuwde YouTube-kanaal, Climate News Comedy, met nog meer voorbeelden uit Nederland.
Als ‘improv comedian’ is Greg Shapiro bovendien de welhaast ideale dagvoorzitter. Hij stelt gasten, publiek en organisaties op hun gemak met veel humor en altijd zonder grof te zijn. Als iets misgaat met het geluid, een spreker die zich niet comfortabel voelt, de timing of de verbinding tijdens een webinar… improviseert hij onmiddellijk, Geen probleem dankzij zijn langjarige theaterervaring. “Het onverwachte maakt het eigenlijk allemaal nog wat levendiger en interessanter voor iedereen.”
Greg Shapiro: ‘Dutch Direct vs the Elephant in the Room’
11 October, 2022
As ‘Dutch direct’ as you think may be, it still helps to have an American by your side. Dutch culture prides itself on being ‘Dutch direct,’ which is an indirect way of saying ‘rude.’ Sometimes I get hired by Dutch companies to host their events, to help ‘bridge the cultural gap’ between the older Dutch management and their mostly younger, more international staff. Practically, that means I get to share the stage with them and demonstrate how to not get upset when they say ‘Dutch direct’ things like “I wouldn’t have chosen that outfit” or “Ha ha – that joke didn’t work.”
Lesson Number One: start off by removing the tie.
To show how well integrated I am, I will sometimes respond to Dutch directness by teasing Dutch people right back. It makes the boss more human! There was one Dutch CEO who had a real ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ attitude. He liked to answer questions by saying “Okay, look…” But he was speaking English as a second language. So frequently – instead of saying look – he would use the Dutch word kijk. Luckily, he didn’t pronounce it the ethnic slur way. He said it more like “cake.” So I pointed out that – if he was going to start off every point talking about cake, there had better be some cake by the end of the day. (There was.)
DUTCH DIRECT + Yank Joke
For another event – for another ‘Dutch direct’ CEO – there was an elephant in the room. That’s partly why they’d hired me: to help keep the day loose and informal, so the audience would feel confident enough to ask the difficult questions. And the employees did ask difficult enough questions, about sustainability,about equal pay, about fair hiring… But then came a question about accusations of fake sustainability claims, ie ‘greenwashing.’ The elephant had arrived!
The CEO explained that he took the greenwashing accusations very seriously. He admitted that just a couple years ago those accusations would have been partly true. I said “I was here a couple years ago, and I can confirm! The last time I hosted for you guys, you had one HR manager saying ‘sustainability would be a good idea,’ and now she’s on the board as the first ever Chief Sustainability Officer. …And if anyone still comes with complaints that Dutch companies aren’t green enough, remind them that Shell Oil is now located in the UK.”
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.
Greg Shapiro Hosts CitizenM TV Episode 2
20 June, 2022
Thanks, Covid! After the 2020 Lockdown canceled Christmas, CitizenM hotel group had to reinvent their annual Christmas party as a TV show in January. Thus ‘CitizenM TV’ was born – with me as the host. It went so well that I was invited back to host the live Christmas party in 2021. But would we be able to have a live Christmas party…?
NO! The latest Covid lockdown kicked in on 18 December, and canceled everything. Which is EXACTLY what CitizenM had predicted when they decided to make CitizenM TV Episode 2. Again, with me as host.
I must admit: when I’d hosted the first CitizenM TV, I’d never stayed at a CitizenM hotel before. I’d been to meetings at the Amsterdam Zuid location, just because it’s a cool place to meet. For Episode 2, I did my homework. I got to do an overnight ‘staycation’ at the Amsterdam Amstel location. And since then I understand their motto ‘affordable luxury.’ More than that, they recognized me from the TV show, and they treated me like one of the family.
The concept for Episode 2 was to show me warming up before the show – IN a CitizenM hotel room. Hence – WARNING: CONTAINS SOME MALE NUDITY. Episode 2 was again produced by Dutch media company GRNDPA. And this time they gave me more to do: I got to interact with CitizenM office staff, dressed as ninjas. And I got to play a mustachioed gym coach (inspired by Ted Lasso’s alter ego Led Tasso). That’s why you can see me yelling at CitizenM employees like Boyan.
Again, I got to chat with founder Rattan Chadha and CEO Klaas van Lookeren, and I noticed that yes they felt even more relaxed and on-message than in Episode 1.
Looking forward to seeing a live Christmas event this year… But if it ends up being CitizenM TV Episode 3, I won’t complain.
Comedian Greg Shapiro hosts CitizenM TV, Episode 2 (Dec. 2021). Produced by GRNDPA, NL.