Dutch culture Tag

Greg Shapiro on EditieNL “Come the Netherlands, We’ll Blow You Away”

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.’

Hygge you may remember as the Danish term for ‘enjoying winter coziness.’ And last winter there was an American flirtation with the Norwegian tradition of ‘open-air living’ friluftsliv. Could the Dutch tradition of uitwaaien be the next big thing in the US?
https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2022/01/06/netherlands-lifestyle-trend-uitwaaien/

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.

https://www.rtlnieuws.nl/editienl/laatste-videos-editienl/video/5280514/nederlandse-traditie-uitwaaien-overgewaaid-naar-de

Greg Shapiro New Video Series: ‘DutchNews of the Week’

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.

Wish me luck.

Greg Shapiro Volunteers for Autistic Kids Project, Gets Killed

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!

Greg Shapiro Hosts TFG Event at Prinsenhof Delft

Greg Shapiro Hosts TFG Event at Prinsenhof Delft

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

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.

SOCIAL

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.

POLITICAL

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.”

 

SEXUAL

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.]

Greg Shapiro ‘How to Be Dutch’ at NBTC Netherlands Bd of Tourism & Conventions

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!


Greg Shapiro: NPO Radio1 Comedy News Correspondent

Greg Shapiro: NPO Radio1 Comedy News Correspondent

First came the US elections in November 2020. Then came Trump claiming the entire election was fake – and leaving the White House anyway. Next up came the Dutch national elections in March, 2021. De Tweede Kamer Verkiezingen. And my friends at Dutch NPO Radio1 asked me to do a CNN-style report from the polling stations in the Netherlands. In Dutch! Ik zei JA.

First, I reported that there was no evidence of long lines, no people of color being forced to wait hours before they could come near a voting booth. And there were no claims of voter fraud – except for one very thin-skinned politician named Thierry. But it turns out that all you have to do is look Thierry in the face and call him a racist, and then he runs away out of the studio. Just ask Martijn Koning. (Radio 1 cut that part.)

The only irregularity in the voting for the Dutch Tweede Kamer was a certain fellow named Hugo, who tried to vote – without a valid passport! And he happens to have been the Health Minister. (Well, technically the deposed Health Minister.) He apologized for his mistake, and he drove back home to get his proper ID – only to find out he also had an expired driving license. After Finally, he returned with his passport. His vaccine passport. For his dog.
He would have been able to do all of this online, but it seems his Corona app was again not working properly. And again, the health minister’s name? Hugo. Hugo de ‘Sjonge Jonge Jonge.’

More CNN news from the Netherlands, as it breaks!
CNN Breaking News! Proving that news in the US is broken.

[Anytime Radio1 needs American-style reporting – in het Nederlands – I will be there.] [Sometimes I call in for a live chat. But this time I made a recording from my home studio.]

 

 

Greg Shapiro, the Dutch DudeWithSign

Greg Shapiro, the Dutch DudeWithSign

If you’ve spent any time on Instagram in the year 2020, you’re probably aware of the American Seth Phillips – aka ‘Dude with Sign.’ I’ve been inspired by his work. And – as an artist – that’s my way of saying I’m stealing his idea.
In March 2021, I did a series of ‘Dutch Dude with Sign’ poses to encourage the Dutch English-speaking community to get more involved with the Dutch elections. But now I’m picking up where I left off – nu helemaal in het Nederlands.

Reduce Cardboard Use. He said, in front of a mountain of overflowing cardboard. (foto: Jonathan Groubert)

Nieuw van Ikea: Kabinet ‘Rüttevir’ (geen garantie). Komt er ooit een nieuwe kabinet? Wordt het Rutte IV? Geen garantie. En zo ja, dan zelfs geen garantie dat die 4 jaar duurt.  (foto: Imre Shapiro)

Geïnspireerd door graffiti op mijn vuilnis container: “BEN JIJ EEN SLAAF?” “Nou, ben jij een WAPPIE?” (foto: Imre Shapiro)

Formatie Proces: 0%.
Disinformatie Proces: 100%
(foto: Imre Shapiro)

Vaccines used to hurt more when Bill Gates injected a whole floppy disc.
(thank you Shlibber for the inspiration.)
(foto: Inez de Goede)

ACCESS MAGAZINE REVIEWS GREG SHAPIRO’S THIRD BOOK

ACCESS MAGAZINE REVIEWS GREG SHAPIRO’S THE AMERICAN NETHERLANDER: 25 YEARS OF EXPAT TALES

HOW DUTCH ARE YOU? 
by Giulia Quaresima
(ACCESS magazine, April 2021)

Greg Shapiro’s The American Netherlander, with its sense of humour and sharp eye for detail, is a good starting point to understanding life as an international in the Netherlands. The author is an American comedian, a member of comedy group Boom Chicago, presenter of Comedy Central News, and author of two books now collected together in The American Netherlander: 25 Years of Expat Tales.
This book tells the story of Shapiro’s personal cultural adventure and assimilation in the Netherlands, from when he first arrived 25 years ago and stayed for love. It is not a scientific guide, but a manual to understand and familiarise yourself with the country, using the author’s personal anecdotes for a subjective and hilarious point of view.
Shapiro tackles Dutch common sense, a pragmatic approach to problem solving, openness and tolerance, multiculturalism, politics, education, and even customer service. While his personal experiences really bring out the humour and irony, he also shows understanding. For instance, the renowned ‘Dutch directness’ is really brutal honesty that isn’t intended to hurt feelings.
Shapiro uses paradoxes and oxymorons in Dutch culture: How can Dutch identity be so independent-minded, yet also so obsessed with consensus? How can Dutch identity be so liberal and open, yet also so Calvinistic and conformist? How can Dutch identity be so proud, but then be so quiet about it? “Dutch police won’t stop you for having an un-helmeted ba by strapped to the front of your bike, like a human shield. In fact, Dutch police won’t stop you if there is a kid on the handlebars, one on the crossbar, two on the back rack, and another one standing on top of those for a playdate. But if they’d been riding at night without a light? That’s a fine of €50.”
The second part of the book is a Dutch assimilation test, a collection of all the questions that should be included in the inburgering exams. According to Shapiro, these reveal more than the exam ever intended.
Give it a try and see how Dutch you are!