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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/

Greg Shapiro Hosts CitizenM TV Episode 2

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.

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:

Greg Shapiro Working with Dylan Haegens and – Roy Donders?

Greg Shapiro Working with with Dylan Haegens and – Roy Donders?
5 May 2022


It was an early call for a video shoot in Brabant, at the home of a famous Dutch celebrity. Based in Tilburg.

Whose kitchen features a Senseo coffee machine…

…and a leopard print kettle and toaster.
Can you guess who it is yet?

Yes, it’s Roy Donders. 

I was hired for a commercial shoot to work with Haegens Media.

As in Dylan Haegens, the biggest Dutch YouTuber ever. I thought “What a compliment! He knows me from my YouTube channel.” It turns out: he had not heard about my YouTube channel. But he knew me from my onscreen work as ‘an American in a suit.’ And that was my role: the American manager of a new app called Club Vegas. In a suit.


Roy Donders is known as a singer and stylist, and he has a reality show on Dutch TV with his mom. The two of them are very cute.

In the opening scene, I pitch the app to Roy and his mom. And the reason I liked this concept is that it’s not a straight-up commercial spot. Rather, it’s a behind-the-scenes ‘Making of’ story for a commercial spot. Clever. Well done, Dylan.

The app itself is NOT a gambling app. I made sure of that. It’s a gambling-themed app. And it is free. Okay yes, it has in-app purchases. But since the target audience is women aged 30-50, I think it’s ‘fair game.’

I made sure to give Roy Donders a copy of my book, and he’s going to give it to his Dutch-American friend. I also gave a copy to Dylan himself – the gifting video is coming soon.  

Oh, and Roy Donders is known for his love of worstenbroodjes, ie Dutch sausage pastries. This is a reputation he says he is now trying to live down. But it’s not working. The wrap party photo features the entire cast and crew seated on an enormous worstenbroodje.

It was great to work with Haegens Media – and with the green screen studio Key-ative. We’re already teaming up to work on more. Stay tuned…

English Language Amsterdam Election Debate – Hosted by Greg Shapiro

English Language Amsterdam Election Debate – Hosted by Greg Shapiro
7 March, 2022

Hey Expats & Internationals! You might be able to vote in the Amsterdam City Council Elections – aka the Gemeenteraadsverkiezingen.
Basically, if you’ve been living here long enough you can pronounce the term Gemeenteraadsverkiezingen, then maybe you can vote in the Gemeenteraadsverkiezingen.

Election Day is next Wednesday, 16 March. And on 9 March I hosted the ONLY English-language election event in Amsterdam. Here are some highlights.

As the host, I started out with a comedy version of the basics: If American politics is quite Bipolar, then Dutch politics has Multiple Personality Disorder. Even in Amsterdam – with only 45 seats in city council – there are 15 different parties. And there are 26 parties running in the upcoming election! That means there are 11 parties that have never existed before – and may never exist again. That’s the nature of Dutch politics: the smaller the country, the more they like to disagree.


Onstage last night we had three parties from the current city council coalition: GroenLinks; D66 & Labor PvdA. We also had VOLT – who have never campaigned for city council before. And we had VVD who are in city council – but not in the ruling coalition.


As the host, I welcomed the 100+ people in the audience, and I subtly switched from my native English to ESL ‘English as a Second Language.’ That also helped the five politicians on the panel, who were each rather nervous about their level of English. As expected, everyone’s English was FINE… with a few exceptions.

“If you live in an old house, you need isolation. The city needs to provide isolation. Isolation for everyone!” I quickly pointed out that in English it’s called INSULATION. That’s very different. 

HOUSING
There’s more housing coming! Pre-fab houses, 3-D printed houses, and floating houses. And if you’re smart you’ll get a floating house, because this city is going to be underwater soon.

SUSTAINABILITY
Thanks to Putin, everyone in Europe is now desperate to get off of fossil fuels. GroenLinks wants more solar, more insulation and even 6-7 wind turbines on Amsterdam land. I had to ask Rutger from GroenLinks “Why has Amsterdam been cutting down so many trees?” And admitted “It’s bad for optics,” but the truth is many trees that were planted 30 – 40 years ago were not well planned, and now their root systems are destroying canal walls, city streets and foundations. They’ve been replanting new, proper trees. But that doesn’t stop Thierry Baudet from putting tree stumps in his campaign photos.

ARTS / DIVERSITY
Well, since GroenLinks & D66 chose to hold this event at Podium Mozaiek, I guess that shows they support diversity as well as the arts. Anything is better than the place they had four years ago – the Marktkantine. Yuck.

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/  

 

Greg Shapiro Presents: HOW TO BE DUTCH – THE QUIZ SHOW

Greg Shapiro Presents: HOW TO BE DUTCH – THE QUIZ SHOW
7 Feb., 2022

Hi, it’s me Greg Shapiro – the American Netherlander. I grew up in America first, and I moved to the Netherlands second. Along the way, I took the Dutch citizenship exam, and I wrote a couple books on the subject – including HOW TO BE DUTCH: the Quiz. All the questions that SHOULD be on the Dutch citizenship exam, by the American Netherlander who’s been living here 25 years.


And now it’s time to play HOW TO BE DUTCH – THE QUIZ SHOW!

Question:
Which nationality traditionally scores the worst on the Dutch citizenship quiz?
Answer:
Dutch people.

SAMPLE QUESTION:
How many times does the Dutch national anthem reference other countries? 

Answer: 3.
In the opening line it starts talking about Germany.
Next up is Orange, which is a city in France.
And in the final line – just when the the world is thinking “surely this will be the name of their own country” – NOPE! ‘Spain.’
And guess which 3 countries have ever invaded and occupied the NL?
Germany, France and Spain.
Meaning – It’s not so much an anthem as it is a self-hating checklist.
And this explains why the Netherlands never come in first place in the World Cup. 

HOW TO BE DUTCH – THE QUIZ SHOW!
“I take the Netherlands a little bit on the hook, yes?”

Greg Shapiro (Boom Chicago, Comedy Central, ‘Zondag Met Lubach’) has written a book about Dutch culture: HOW TO BE DUTCH: the Quiz. As a comedian, Shapiro starts by looking at the questions on the actual Dutch citizenship exam. Sometimes a simple analysis of the actual questions reveals more about the Dutch mentality than the exam ever intended. Next, Shapiro introduces his own exam, with questions that will test your knowledge on Dutch pride, Dutch stereotypes, Dutch politics – and yes Sinterklaas.

Shapiro has written so many quiz questions, he can tailor-make a quiz for your event. Previous quizzes have featured: Dutch Office Culture; Dutch Housing and Dutch Sustainability. 

Quiz Shows are generally 15- 30 minutes. Tailoring is available, Pre-meetings are available.

GREG SHAPIRO – HOUSE EXPAT OF DUTCH POLITICS

GREG SHAPIRO – HOUSE EXPAT OF DUTCH POLITICS

26 Jan., 2022

After utterly failing to appear on Dutch TV reality shows like Wie Is de Mol and Expeditie Robinson, I have decided to take part in the biggest reality show of them all: Dutch politics.

In March of 2022, the Netherlands will hold nationwide local elections, and I will be appearing on the list for D66 in Amsterdam. Every candidate list has a leader at the top: the lijsttrekker (list-puller). My position on the list is more symbolic. I will appear at the bottom of the list – what is known as a lijstduwer (list pusher). Yes, I’m your pusher man.

Unlike other Dutch elections, the local elections (Gemeenreraadsverkiezingen) allow non-Dutch citizens to vote. And that is why Amsterdam D66 contacted me – to shamelessly exploit my connections in the expat and international community. To remind people – like you – you can vote! And you don’t have to vote for my party. There are a number of websites where you can answer a questionnaire to find out which party is right for you. (see below) As long as you vote!
After all, the D in D66 stands for Democrats. If you vote, I’m happy.

Why D66? Well, it started in 2014 when my friend Jan Paternotte (D66) asked me to join the team. Paternotte was actively supportive of dual citizens like me. He was also strongly pro-Europe (like me). So I said yes. Also, Jan helped promote my book, so I know he has excellent judgment and taste.

Since then, (since 2006 honestly) I’ve been known to help out on D66 campaigns. So much so that Amsterdam’s Het Parool describes me as ‘Expat à la Maison’ …
https://www.parool.nl/amsterdam/het-gevecht-om-de-stem-van-de-expat-is-begonnen-in-amsterdam~b48e0a9d/

…or ‘House Expat.’ Sounds a little bit like ‘House Elf,’ or worse… But I’ll take it.

Here’s the English version:
https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2022/01/every-vote-counts-political-parties-in-amsterdam-target-the-expat-voter/

And here’s the questionnaire to determine which of the – way too many – parties is right for you.
|https://verkiezingen.stemwijzer.nl/

HAPPY VOTING!