Greg Shapiro on EditieNL “Come the Netherlands, We’ll Blow You Away”
12 January, 2022
The other day I got a phone call from Dutch RTL News, asking for an interview. “What do you think of this Washington Post article about Uitwaaien?” I checked the link, and there it was: ‘Forget hygge, it’s time for uitwaaien’ – aka ‘walking in the wind.’
I was happy to tell RTL’s show EditieNL that I am a fan of uitwaaien. In fact, where was I on New Years Day? I was with my family walking the dog in the Dutch dunes, in nature, and yes in the wind. What better way to start the new year than to let to old one be blown away – along with your hangover from the night before. (But don’t expect me to take part in the Nieuwjaarsduik where you celebrate 1 January by jumping into the North Sea… those people are crazy.)
EditieNL asked if I’d be willing to meet them at Zandvoort for an interview – and some real-time uitwaaien. I said “Yes AND – I’m bringing my dog.” I have a 6 year-old Black Labrador, who loves walking on the beach! And conveniently – just as the interview began – she pooped, and I had to pick it up. And so, for the entire time I’m on camera, you can see me walking in the wind with a little red sack of poop. Uitwaaien and hondenpoep opruimen. A true Dutch tradition.
Greg Shapiro Mini Standup Special ‘LEAVING TRUMPLAND’ 4 January, 2022
I wrote a comedy show about America during Trump and during Covid. It’s called LEAVING TRUMPLAND. And it’s partly about how Trump and Covidiots killed my stepfather.
Most of my performance dates were cancelled due to Covid. But thankfully, a Dutch performance series asked me to perform part of my show for them, at the ITA International Theater Amsterdam. And here it is:
GREG SHAPIRO’S LEAVING TRUMPLAND on ‘Cultuurexplosie Live.’ (link below)
My previous show was called The Madness of King Donald. This show is more personal. Ever since I moved to the Netherlands, my family and friends keep asking “When are you moving back? When are you coming home?” And now, since 2020, they’re asking “What is it like in the Netherlands? Maybe we could come live with you?” And I tell them “Nee! Vol is vol!”
And yes, I wrote new bits about President Biden. Did you hear what he said today? No. No one did. No one cares! And it’s wonderful!
We don’t have the mental space to pay attention to Joe Biden. We’re still recovering from 4 years of Post-Traumatic Tweet Disorder. America is like a toilet clogged with 4 years of toxic dumps. Biden is the plumber. And as happy as we are that Joe the Plumber is on the job, I hope he knows it’s not like we’re not going to WATCH, right? Just let us know when you’re done.
We can’t pay attention to the current president, because some of us are still mourning. As for me, I found out in the summer of 2020 that my stepdad had Covid. In a nursing home at age 75. And the nursing home was in Trump country, aka ‘Trumpland.’ And my stepdad had a roommate. And the roommate was like many Republicans in the US: they believe in Freedom more than Science. In fact they believe in “Freedom FROM Science.”
And for the rest of the story, you’ll have to watch:
GREG SHAPIRO ADDED TO NEW TEAM: MODERATING.EU
28 December, 2021
Since the Covid lockdown hit in 2020, I’ve been using the opportunity to branch out. One area that has been calling out to me is right around the corner in Belgium. It’s the EU HQ and the community known as ’The Brussels Bubble.’
A friend of mine in Brussels has been organizing a monthly EU-themed talk show called ‘Brussels Bubbles.’ And what do you know – they even have a website called ModeratingEU. ModeratingEU is a booking agency dedicated to creating EU-themed events that are NOT BORING. And I offered my help. https://moderating.eu/
I can now be hired via Moderating.eu to make your event less boring and tedious. Unless you WANT your EU meeting to be boring and tedious, in which case – just keep doing what you’ve been doing. https://moderating.eu/greg-shapiro/
Here are some examples of what you can find on my profile:
GREG SHAPIRO – Using humor to make your message hit home.
For 20 years, I’ve been using my background in comedy and improvisation to take dry subject matter and make it more fun – and more memorable.
– Laser-focus on your Main Message – and how to use humor & interaction to make it stick.
– Native English speaker, but also fluent in ESL ‘English as Second Language.’
– Experienced improviser. Even when your event doesn’t go according to plan, I make it look like part of the plan.
A Gentleman Onstage.
Greg uses humor, but always with a diplomatic touch. Literally. He has performed for the Netherlands Embassy, as well as hosting events for French President François Hollande, and once for King Willem Alexander of the Netherlands.
An Onstage Veteran.
Greg has experience hosting events where everything goes right – and when it goes wrong. According to Judith de Lange from Dutch Data Center Hub: “Greg provided lots of laughter in an otherwise very serious crowd. And although confronted with some technical difficulties, Greg was well-equipped to improvise and let the show go on. I would definitely recommend Greg as a host!
A Published Author.
Greg Shapiro is the author of 3 books, such as THE AMERICAN NETHERLANDER: 25 Years of Expat Tales, available internationally. Greg uses his experience with dual nationality to bridge the gap between cultures, between organizations, and between the presenters and the audience.
“Greg’s hosting was sharp, tactful and very, very funny. We did not make things easy for him! He dealt brilliantly with the tailored EPO material.”
– Bert Lockhart, European Patent Office
“Greg made the difference between a pretty-good event and an excellent event. His total understanding of the content, his humour, and his optimistic persona gave the event depth and made it sparkle.”
– Sylvester Lindemulder, Logica Innovation Day
“Greg brought humor to our theme, mixed with a serious note. It gave energy and fun to a serious discussion, which led to more enthusiasm and interaction with our audience.”
– Marike Scholten, Windesheim Univ. Sustainability Event
“We had a lot of fun with Greg as our host for our young professionals event. A great mix between humor and serious interviews onstage. That led to good energy in the audience.”
– Marit van Heugten, Drecht Cities
ABOUT GREG SHAPIRO
Greg Shapiro graduated from Northwestern University in the US and then moved to Amsterdam to work with comedy theater Boom Chicago. He now has 20 years’ experience hosting events for multinational clients such as Philips, Shell and ING. Shapiro has hosted the tv show Comedy Central News in the Netherlands, and he is the voice of the ‘Netherlands Second’ video from 2017. Shapiro has published three books on Dutch culture. He has hosted events for the King of the Netherlands, the French President, and NATO. And he has performed in the Business Class section of a 747 flying to Chicago.
Greg Shapiro New Video Series ‘DutchNews of the Week’ 7 December, 2021
“The headlines are from DutchNews.nl; the punchlines are from me.” So begins every episode of my new weekly video series ‘DutchNews of the Week.’
DutchNews.nl already has a daily newsletter and a weekly podcast. So I thought: “Why not a weekly video as well?” And, in the spirit of Branded Content, I decided to just start making the videos first, on my own. Then – instead of saying “What would it be like if I made these videos…” I can now say “Here, look at these videos.”
It’s like “Better to ask forgiveness than permission.” First I make the videos. Then I approach the client. “If you like it, pay me to make more.” (And if you hate it, pay me to stop…) (wink emoticon)
As it turns out, the founder of DutchNews.nl is a friend of mine: Robin Pascoe. What do you know: she likes the videos. (Robin is the woman who used to write for the English version of the Financiele Dagblad. There are other Dutch news sites in English, but DutchNews is my favorite.)
I love humor as a tool to make news items more relatable and more memorable. At first, I wanted to make videos that went a bit in depth for every major story of the week. The videos were still about 3 minutes long, like this one. WATCH: https://youtu.be/IKIjvmmO4Rs
But I soon realized a couple things about social media. 1) Current events videos do not age well on YouTube. 2) If you want to post videos on other media – like Twitter and Instagram – you can only post 60 seconds max. And so the new format was born: Set-up / Punchline. Just like ‘Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live.
So keep an eye on your socials. If it’s a Friday – and if I have the time that week – then I’ll be posting to Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
And if enough people like it, I might just use the same technique for Politico.eu. But this time I might try to make content for their YouTube channel as well. They have a YouTube channel, but it suuuuuucks.
Greg Shapiro Volunteers for Autistic Kids Project, Gets Killed. Autistic Students Take Dutch Directness to the Next Level.
30 November, 2021
This past October, I volunteered for a school project. The school was set up by the mother of an autistic child. (aka ‘a child on the autistic spectrum.’) And the school is called SBTK: Stichting Brilliant Future Kids. Since the mother is an old friend of my wife, she asked if I could help teach an improv workshop for her students. I said “Yes, AND.”
Yes, I’d taught improv classes before. Yes, I’d taught high school students before. But no, I’d never taught kids with autism. What I had done is hosting an event for adults with autism, and the interviews were great. I remember they were brutally honest, which was hugely entertaining.
At Stichting Brilliant Future Kids, they wanted an improv workshop – but also they wanted me to make a quick appearance in a video they were shooting. In fact, as soon as I arrived, that’s all they could talk about. The students were all mid-teens, male and female (and perhaps non-binary), and ‘the spectrum’ was well-represented. Practically, there were only a couple students who wouldn’t make any eye contact at all.
It turns out they were pretty big fans of the ‘Netherlands Second’ video. And they asked me what was my life was like now that Trump was out of the White House. I gave them my standard answer, which is: “I’ve got other projects, so it’s not the end of the world. Whereas, if he had stayed – it might literally be the end of the world.”
So then they showed me the script. They said it was inspired by me. How flattering!
…It’s about a washed up Trump joke comedian, who dies onstage and then dies in real life. Wowzers, no one does Dutch honesty quite like students on the autistic spectrum. I died laughing.
My scene partner was a demonic doll baby purchased from a Halloween store.
The baby would play the bartender, who serves me a poison drink. Then there’s somehow a motorcycle ride.
And then we crash and die. The end.
It turns out I never got to do the improv workshop with the lesson plan I has prepared. But we did end up improvising enough in their video studio. And the one student, who didn’t want to make eye contact, he finally looked up and said, “When you are dying in front of the crowd, can you really show how painful it is?” Yes, and. I did. Afterward, the teacher said that was one of the few things he said at full volume all day. Glad I could help!
I was asked to host an annual dinner for an IT trade association at a historic location: the Prinsenhof in Delft. Where Willem van Oranje – the founder of the country – took his last breath in 1584. Even if my event would be a disaster, it couldn’t be worse than that.
The IT association was called The Future Group, which I immediately made fun of: “Good name! Sounds vaguely evil, without hitting it over the head.” I reminded everyone of the famous Google motto: ‘Don’t be evil,’ as opposed to Facebook’s motto: “Be evil enough for Facebook AND Google.” Just before the event, the ’Facebook Papers’ were released – revealing that Facebook knew its product was addictive and refused to change it. “How could Facebook not be addictive? It was created by Mark Zuckerberg! Berg meaning ‘mountain’ & zucker meaning ‘sugar.’ And how did he respond to the accusation? By launching ‘Facebook Meta.’ “The Metaverse. Like Facebook, but worse.” It’s always a risk to try out all-new material in front of a corporate crowd. But luckily this stuff killed.
I was warned that there would be a special challenge in hosting the evening. The celebrity chef would be Yuri Verbeek: a creative genius in the kitchen – who had a tendency for overheating onstage. I’d never met him. But I was impressed by his set-up in the pop-up kitchen.
Yes, Yuri had a whole cookbook he wanted to promote.
Yes, he had a whole new concept for every course. Yes, he had a nervous energy onstage that seemed to freak people out. But as for me, I have a high tolerance for weird energy. I decided on a dual-pronged strategy: let him talk as long as he wanted; and tell the technician to kill the mic if I signaled. Turns out – I didn’t need to kill the mic. Yuri did great!
By the end of the night, people liked the show – but they loved Yuri. “How did you get him not to be so long-winded?” I followed a classic bit of Dutch advice: “Doe normaal.”
The event hall is the covered atrium of what once was a Catholic cloister. It was inspiring to stand on the stones that Willem van Oranje may have once stood. I’d never visited the Prinsenhof Museum, and it’s a good one.
The star of the show is the staircase, where Willem was gunned down in 1584, at the start of the Dutch Revolution. You can see the bullet holes still in the wall. And – thanks to a clever animation – you can see how the assassin crept up and fired at Willem, before he collapsed on the floor.
Luckily, the Future Group was a great show. I killed onstage, but no one died.
3 REASONS WHY DUTCH HONESTY IS BETTER by Greg Shapiro, The American Netherlander
as seen in Speakers Academy Magazine, 2021-22
Dutch people are known for being ‘direct’ – which is an indirect way of saying ‘rude.’ At least that’s how I have experienced Dutch directness as an American expat. But the longer I live in Nederland, the more I appreciate how Dutch folks tell it like it is. Here are 3 ways Dutch Directness is better than the alternative.
As stereotypes go, Americans have a reputation for being politely indirect. The British have a reputation for being completely indirect. And Dutch people pride themselves on being brutally honest – sometimes at the expense of politeness, or tact, or respect for human dignity. If you go on a diet and lose a couple kilos, most people will say, “Wow, have you lost weight?” Whereas your Dutch colleague will say, “Wow, you used to be so fat!” Yes, Dutch people have a reputation for being tolerant. But they’re also judgmental as hell.
When I introduced my American mother to my Dutch family for the first time, someone told her: “Nice outfit.” But it was my Dutch father-in-law who said, “I don’t think so. You have a nice figure, but in America you can’t get clothes that fit you properly. All the sizes are too big. But that is because most Americans are so fat.” So now my mother never speaks to my in-laws – which honestly makes my life much easier.
While many world leaders visited the Trump White House being pulled against their will into pop-up arm-wrestling contests, it was Nederland’s Mark Rutte who stood up to the bully. In a joint press conference, Donald Trump said “On trade, we’ll work out something positive. And even if we don’t work something out it’ll also be positive.” But Mark Rutte couldn’t help blurting out “NO!” Rutte laughed in Trump’s face as he continued: “Not positive. We’ll have to work something out.” And if not for Dutch diplomacy, Rutte would have added: “Not positive. And you are too fat. And your tie is too long. And your face makes you look like an angry monkey.”
Attitudes toward sex in the Netherlands can result in culture shock for many people. But if you spend a bit more time here, it becomes what I call Culture Shock Therapy. Yes, it’s different than what you might be accustomed to, but then you realize: “This way is better! ANSWER =
Many cultures advocate a getting-to-know-you phase before engaging in sex. An American colleague of mine was explaining to her Dutch friends that “I’ve been dating this guy for a few weeks. And I think it’s the right time to invite him to bed.” The Dutch women found this idea to be ridiculous: “Why would you spend three weeks on a guy, if he might be bad in bed?”
In America, it’s: “Take me to dinner, then maybe you can take me to bed.” In Nederland, it’s: “Take me to bed, then maybe we can go to dinner.” (“But I’m only going to pay half.”)
In closing, I find Dutch Directness better than what I grew up with. The only disadvantage is nowadays when I’m on a Zoom call with my family in the US, and they’re shocked when I say things like “Your country is shit.”
[Author Greg Shapiro offers Masterclasses on Dutch identity based on his books such as THE AMERICAN NETHERLANDER. Shapiro has appeared as Event Host and Keynote Speaker for multinational clients such as Philips, Shell and ING. His has hosted events for heads of state, the King of the Netherlands, and once for the Business Class section of a KLM 747 to Chicago.]
Unofficial GREG SHAPIRO OCTOBER BENELUX Tour (feat. a stop in Luxembourg for cheap fuel)
October has turned into a busy month, as I have accidentally assembled a list of Dutch cities where I’ll be performing. (And at least one date in Brussels…)
But the big news is: I’ll be featured in CABARETFESTIVAL PEPER in Den Haag. Organized by Theaters Diligentia & Pepijn, this current events festival calls itself ‘De Lachspiegel van de Samenleving,’ ie ‘Holding a mirror to today’s society.’ I’ve repurposed my solo show LEAVING TRUMPLAND for Fall of 2021: now with less Trump and more Covidiots. At the end of my show, we will be joined (via Zoom) by my former Boom Chicago colleague Tarik Davis, who will give us his New York perspective on Before & After the Lockdown. (And he might give us a preview of The Amber Ruffin Show season 2 – as well as his new Broadway show Freestyle Love Supreme.)
This month, I’ll be doing a series of open mic shows to try out new material. Starting at De Pelgrim in Rotterdam. And I’m excited to try out the new Comedy Cafe Utrecht location! After that it’s back to Fox & Solo in Amsterdam. And I’ll be rounding out the month with my new friends in Brussels from ImproBubble. They’ve developed a new monthly sketch & improv format called The Schuman Show. And I’ll be improvising a sketch with The Real (fake) Angela Merkel.
-Thurs. 7 Oct. ROTTERDAM. ‘Comedy Brew’ @ Stadsbrowerij De Pelgrim. Open mic lineup show. 8:30pm.
-Tues. 12 Oct. UTRECHT. English Open Mic. @ Comedy Cafe Utrecht. Open mic lineup show. 8pm.
-Thurs. 14 Oct. AMSTERDAM. ‘Oh My Word Comedy’ @ FOX & SOLO. Open mic lineup show. 8pm.
-Sat. 23 Oct. DEN HAAG. Cabaret Festival PEPER. SOLO SHOW ‘LEAVING TRUMPLAND’. @West Den Haag (former US Embassy). 2 SHOWS: 6.30pm + 8pm.
Greg Shapiro ‘How to Be Dutch’ at NBTC Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions
3 June, 2021
I remember when the NBTC was simply called the NBOT ‘Netherlands Board of Tourism.’ (That’s when I did my first events for them back in the 2000’s.) These days, it’s the ‘Netherlands Board of Tourism AND CONVENTIONS.’ Which is handy, because – during a pandemic – tourism you can’t do easily online. But conventions, yes!
As the Corona rules loosen, it’s time to ask: What is the future of conventions and events? Back to Live and In-Person? More online? A bit of both? Will conventions and events ever be the same? The NBTC organized an online event in early June. As it happened, it was right before Step 3 of Loosening the Dutch Corona restrictions. So, if they had rescheduled by a few days, then they could have had up to 50 people in a live audience. !
The fact they did NOT reschedule perhaps proves their point: the role of online and hybrid events is here to stay.
As it happened, I was glad they went with the online setup. The stage was inspired by the TV show Even Tot Hier, with the audience projected onto an enormous back wall. So yes, I could see the audience on two big monitors under the livestream camera. And also the audience could see themselves behind me. Okay, maybe it’s not a great recipe for laughs – being able to see yourself and get self-conscious every time you laugh. But I got laughs anyway!
I was asked to give a reading from my book The American Netherlander: 25 Years of Expat Tales. It’s a module I like to call ‘Culture Shock Therapy.’ And we had a ‘bubble’ set – everyone on set had to have a negative Covid test. And between the speakers and the crew, there were just enough live bodies to be able to play to audible laughs.
Thanks to Host Sophie Hoytema for recommending me for the gig. Thanks to Producer Paul Gruijthuijsen for making us look great. Thanks to the location CitySense in Utrecht. And thanks to NBTC’s Eric Bakermans for having me – and for making the photos of my performance!