Dutch culture Tag

Greg Shapiro Masterclass: CULTURE SHOCK THERAPY

Greg Shapiro Masterclass: CULTURE SHOCK THERAPY

“Hi! My name is Greg Shapiro, or you can call me Gregory. Or – in Dutch – ‘Krek.’ That’s my name in Dutch: Krek Tja-piero.’ Prime example of Culture Shock: When you move to a different country and realize ‘Wow – I’ve been pronouncing my name wrong my whole life.'”
There are plenty examples of Culture Shock in the Netherlands. Like having a Dutchman introduce himself and say “Hello, my name is Freek. I am Freek, and this is my colleague Tjerk.” But if you can keep a sense of humor about it, you experience Culture Shock THERAPY: when you realize that  cultural differences can be hilarious.

“I am a bit of both: a bit LOUD AMERICAN and a bit ‘Doe Normaal‘ Nederlander. And yes I am tweetaliggggg. But I don’t like to speak Dutch, because it makes my mouth feel sad. What is it about Dutch people and their Harde G? It makes you sound like angry, choking zombie people. Like that TV show The Walking Dead. Or – since it’s the Netherlands – it’s more like The BIKING Dead.”
And here’s another example of Culture Shock Therapy. As soon as I started learning Dutch, I realized “Oh, you don’t need to yell the whole time.”

“Other cultures might say things like ‘Wow, you look good! Have you lost weight?’ Dutch people will say ‘Wow, you used to be so fat!'”
Dutch people are known for being DIRECT. Which is an indirect way of saying RUDE. If Americans have a reputation for being politely indirect, and the British have a reputation for being politely indecipherable, Dutch people pride themselves on being brutally honest – sometimes at the expense of politeness, or tact, or respect for human dignity. But at least you know where you stand. And HOW you stand – which is much shorter, once their comments cut you off at the knees.

Greg Shapiro (Zondag Met Lubach, Boom Chicago, Comedy Central) is The American Netherlander. He has performed his masterclass in Dutch Culture Shock Therapy for heads of state, the King of the Netherlands and once for the Business Class section of a KLM 747 to Chicago. 


Greg Shapiro on ‘Weet Ik Veel’ with ‘How to Be Orange’

Greg Shapiro on ‘Weet Ik Veel’ with ‘How to Be Orange’

Last fall, I got a call from the Dutch quiz show Weet Ik Veel. They wanted to use a clip from the ‘How to Be Orange’ standup special I made for VARA in 2013. The episode aired in 2021.
Beau van Erven Dorens was there, talking about Dutch terms that don’t translate well into English.
And that’s when they played my video.
We start off with a company called HILARIUS ASPHALT.
Then there’s a health drink that’s pronounced AIDS.
There’s the product (or service?) called BABY DUMP.
And the revenge of the dumped baby, which is a Nutricia ad featuring the phrase MAMA DIE! DIE! DIE!

But the moment they really wanted on Weet Ik Veel was the shampoo for removing tangles in your hair. It’s called ANTI-KLIT.
Watch and enjoy what I call ‘CULTURE SHOCK THERAPY.’


Book Presentation Greg Shapiro + Great First Review


Presenting Greg Shapiro’s third book, THE AMERICAN NETHERLANDER: 25 Years of Expat Tales. The first copy was given to reviewer Michael Hasted of ARTS TALK MAGAZINE. Watch as Shapiro gives Hasted approximately 30 seconds to read the book before conducting his interview.

Good news: the interview was good. And the book review was excellent.

One silver lining to the corona cloud has been that it has forced us all to be pragmatic, stoic even, encouraging us to be resourceful and find new ways of doing things. Performers, especially those who depend on live audiences, have had a very hard time. You can’t act in a vacuum, there’s no point in singing alone in your room and you can’t tell jokes to yourself. So, it’s good to have another string to your bow.

The American Netherlander is Amsterdam-based comedian Greg Shapiro’s third book. Put together over the past nine months when gigs were cancelled or greatly restricted, Greg has brought together his two previous books, added a lot of new material and presents us with a memoir of his life in his adopted home, along with a comprehensive guide to living in it. The book is full of apposite observations, canny advice, witty asides and some nice cartoony illustrations. It could well have been titled The Netherlands – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly because, like the Dutch, it does not pull its punches and is proud to tell it like it is, warts and all.

We start off with the back story about how the author first came to The Netherlands twenty-five years ago to work in and help establish the Boom Chicago comedy venue in Amsterdam. He nicely describes the culture shock and disavows numerous stereotypes and preconceptions. He discovers that what he had grown up in the States believing to be Dutch Apple Pie was in fact nothing like the genuine article and that the chunky real thing made his American usurper mere apple pulp fiction. After a while, as he marries and settles down, he loses track of his identity and begins to suffer from MND – Multiple Nationality Disorder.

Greg takes us, chapter by chapter, though the different aspects of Dutch life and how to cope with, sorry, appreciate them. We learn, of course, about sex and drugs and the ubiquitous Coffee Shops. We find out more about bike etiquette and how the Dutch fail to reconcile their desire for personal freedom with the necessity of conforming and keeping a low profile.

But there is a more serious side too with the vexed and contentious issue of Zwarte Piet being covered in some detail along with the problems of immigration.

If you are an expat in The Netherlands, Zwarte Piet will already have raised your eyebrows by an inch or two. If you are elsewhere in the world you will find the phenomenon of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) hard to believe in this day and age when black live really do matter.

The Dutch have Santa Claus with the best of ‘em, or Sinterklaas as they call him, but that’s of no matter. The difference is that while most Santas are content to have a horde of helpful elves and reindeer as acolytes, old Sinterklaas rides a white horse and has a swarm of black helpers dressed up in gold and red velvet. Piet is a sort of black Robin to Sinter’s bearded Batman. These kids are unashamedly blacked- up à la Al Jolson and parade around with their sacks dispensing candy to the children – but politically correct they certainly are not. Greg examines the question in some detail and is able to see the Dutch point of view. This year the big parades of 5th December were cancelled and it seems the Dutch might surreptitiously use that as an opportunity to phase out Black Pete. Some have started calling him Sooty Pete instead . . .

Serious though it is, the subject is treated in an easy going, unpreachy, unjudgemental manner by Greg and he gives us an insight as to how the phenomenon was considered normal and acceptable and how it might continue and/or change.

The last section of the book re-utilises Greg’s previous book How To Be Dutch: The Quiz. This is both funny and informative. Questions are posed and you have to select one out of three possible answers. The correct answer is given and an explanation of why it is. Again, this is broken down into sections like bikes, health care, politics and . . . err . . Zwarte Piet.

There is even a Oh, I never knew that section which lists, in rhyming couplets, things we never knew were Dutch, like half the place names in New York City, LED lights, multinationals Philips and Shell, the microscope, the discoverers and namers of New Zealand etc etc.

To round it all off there are pages of photos of shop signs taken by Greg over the years, showing how Dutch can produce names and words that we English speakers find amusing, For example a hairdresser called Down Under Hair or the Bad Hotel or the Dutch senator called Tiny Kox. You’ve gotta love ‘em.

The American Netherlander provides us with lots of information about  the Dutch persona and way of life and is the result of, not only, Greg’s personal experiences and insights but a lot of thorough research as well – oh, and the laughs, don’t forget the laughs.

This book works on the level of allowing other expats to smugly sit back with a knowing smile on their faces but also as a guide book exploring the mores of a tiny nation that has contributed more to civilisation and to its fund of knowledge over the past five centuries than most people are aware of or care to acknowledge.

Nicely laid out with lots of cartoons on classy coated paper Greg Shapiro’s The American Netherlander is recommended on all levels.  Michael Hasted   8th December 2020


4 Stars for Greg Shapiro’s book THE AMERICAN NETHERLANDER: 25 Years of Expat Tales

4 Stars for THE AMERICAN NETHERLANDER: 25 Years of Expat Tales
4 Great Reviews. Have a look…



‘The book is full of apposite observations, canny advice, witty asides and some nice cartoony illustrations. It could well have been titled The Netherlands – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly because, like the Dutch, it does not pull its punches and is proud to tell it like it is, warts and all.’




‘Shapiro’s new book, celebrating his 25 years in the Netherlands, combines the best of his two previous sold-out tomes. It’s an easy to pick up collection, written in bite-sized chunks, which takes the reader from Shapiro’s arrival at Schiphol airport to the highlights of his very own inburgering exam. In between Shapiro sharpens his pen on the Dutch identity, nudity, what to do with the placenta after a home birth.’





‘Written with a wry sense of humour and an eye for detail and the ludicrous, he manages to paint a picture of a nation that is part cartoon, part realism. At each turn of the page, you find yourself both laughing about and appreciating the Dutch.

And then, once you have seen the Dutch through Greg Shapiro’s eyes, you are treated to that very special aspect of deciding to live in the country; the Dutch Assimilation Test – which even the Dutch themselves have been known to score notoriously badly on.’


REVIEW 4: HEBBAN.nl – FOUR STARS (out of 5)

‘After all these years, his assimilation with Dutch society, language and culture is still clumsy and messy, which leads to hilarious situations that Greg is only too happy to entrust to paper.’








Greg Shapiro Press Appearances


Welcome to a gallery of Greg Shapiro press appearances.

Vanity Fair, 2017 – The ‘Netherlands Second’ origin story
De Telegraaf, 2020 for Leaving Trumpland
Greg & Inez in VARA gids, 2020
Het Parool, 2018
‘Boom Chicago Celebrates with a Scarily Real Fake Trump’
Greg & Inez in VARA Gids, 2016
Pep Rosenfeld & Greg Shapiro in Int’l Herald Tribune, 2003
New York Times, 2017 ‘Netherlands Second’ video inspires copycats
Greg Shapiro in De Volkskrant, 2020
Het Parool, 2020 – Op het Klapstoel
Greg Shapiro in Holland Media Combinatie, 2020

Some text:


VANITY FAIR (February, 2017)
‘Meet the Men Trolling Trump in Those Viral European Videos’ – by Hillary Busis

Greg Shapiro and Shaun Streeter have ace Trump impressions—and they’ve been lending them to a variety of European countries.

It took a full five years after George W. Bush’s inauguration for a comedian to utterly rip apart the president with his words. By contrast, the comic outrage inspired by Donald Trump and his White House rogues gallery has been swift, unrelenting, and thoroughly vicious—and U.S.-based comedians aren’t the only ones getting in on the fun.

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, a Dutch answer to The Daily Show made the new president a pointed welcome video that quickly went viral, inspiring imitators from across Europe, and, eventually, the globe. (Hello, Morocco!) The clips share an impish sensibility, a tagline (“America first; [insert country here] second”), and narration done in the voice of Trump himself. What you may not know is who’s behind said narration: Greg Shapiro, a comedian from Chicago who’s been living in the Netherlands since the mid-90s, did the voice heard in the very first European parody video.


Shapiro European Origin Story

Greg Shapiro is one of the founders of Amsterdam’s Boom Chicago, a comedy theater similar to New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade and Chicago’s Second City. For years, the theater has served as an informal Dutch finishing school for American comedians—including names like Jordan Peele, Ike Barinholtz, and Seth Meyers.

Since making his move across the Atlantic, Shapiro has written books with names like Going Dutch and How to Be Orange; he also hosts a web series called United States of Europe, a satirical take on European current events. Even so, the comedian has never forgotten his American roots. His resume includes Bush-spoofing Boom Chicago shows called Bye Bye Bush and 9/11 Forever—and, of course, that ace Donald Trump impression, which Shapiro is currently showing off in a new Boom show called Angry White Men: Trump Up the Volume.


Click here for Greg Shapiro’s column in Hello Zuidas magazine: ‘Green Cred Makes Dutch People Red in the Face.’

Greg Shapiro Reviews


Book Reviews

‘So funny you’ll hardly be able to put it down’ – I AM EXPAT

‘Chuckle away the hours …plenty of entertainment here ‘ – DutchNews

‘Recommended on all levels’ – ArtsTalk Magazine

‘Sharp eye for detail …hilarious point of view’
Access Magazine, April 2021
by Giulia Quaresima

“With a sense of humour and sharp eye for detail …this is a good starting point to understanding life in the Netherlands. This book tells the story of Shapiro’s personal cultural adventure and assimilation in the Netherlands. …[it’s] a manual to understand the country, using the author’s personal anecdotes for a subjective and hilarious point of view.

The second part of the book is a Dutch assimilation test. [it’s] 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!”
(edited from the original)

For full review, click here:

BOOK REVIEW – Greg Shapiro How to Be Orange (Nov., 2013)

‘Humorous, funny, hilarious. Very nice book’
– NBD Biblion Dutch Library Administration

“In 1994, American comedian and columnist Greg Shapiro came to Nederland to perform and write. …He reports having had a bit of culture shock, to say it mildly. In this book, he describes his confrontations with Dutch culture and society. …and how he experiences it as an American Netherlander. This book consists of humorous columns …[and] all elements of Dutch society are thoroughly teased.

He begins with the Dutch identity …and he takes on cheapness, bikes, and our ‘striving’ to be average. …and finally [there’s] a list of questions from the actual Dutch assimilation exam.
Includes funny illustrations and color photos with hilarious observations add value to this very nice book.”
J. Kroes, NBD Biblion Dutch Library Council
(edited from the original)

Theater Reviews

‘Sharp Satire of America Under Trump’ – Theaterkrant NL

‘A very sharp and dangerous edge’ – ArtsTalk Magazine

‘Razor Sharp Humor with a Personal Touch’ – TheaterParadijs NL

‘Superior Trump Bashing’ Theater review Lock Him Up (Boom Chicago)


‘A Very Sharp and Dangerous Edge’
ArtsTalk Magazine, October 2020


by Michael Hasted
Greg Shapiro is an American comedian who’s fully assimilated into the Dutch way of life for over 25 years. But like any ex-pat, the ties that bind can never be fully severed. And you can feel his pain and anger at his homeland being brought to its knees by a president who is impossible to respect.


Despite having spent half his life in The Netherlands and having a Dutch family, Shapiro is still unmistakably American. … there is a very sharp and dangerous edge to the man. He has a unique viewpoint from where he can gaze on both sides, subjectively and objectively, all at the same time.

If you don’t know Greg Shapiro, I would highly recommend you buy yourself a ticket for this current tour.
(edited from the original)

For full review, click here