How to Be Dutch: THE QUIZ. All the questions that SHOULD be on the Dutch Citizenship Exam, according the expat expert who has been living in the Netherlands for close to 30 years. Critics loved The American Netherlander: 25 Years of Expat Tales. Now comes the perfect companion: the Shapiro Dutch Quiz Book.
How to Be Dutch makes you redefine the Netherlands you thought you knew.
“If Dutch people are so tolerant, why are they still judgmental as hell?”
“How should American parents react to a Dutch bedtime story called Sammy the Super Sperm?”
“If the Netherlands is the ‘Drug Capital of the World,’ why is it so hard to get antibiotics?”
Reviews for How to Be Dutch: THE QUIZ (original printing, 2016)
‘How to Be Dutch plays deftly with clichés and knows how to transcend them. Even if you’ve never been to the Netherlands, Shapiro’s experiences will entertain.’ Access Magazine
‘Humorous columns, funny illustrations, hilarious photos and observations. Very nice book.’ Netherlands Library Council
‘A perfect toilet book.’ TROUW
‘Difficult topics are tackled with facts, sharp insights and often hilarious, personal anecdotes. At each turn of the page, you find yourself both laughing about and appreciating the Dutch. Greg Shapiro treats you to his version of the Dutch Assimilation Test. First, he analyzes the actual exam questions: “Every question tells a story,” Shapiro explains. And then he unveils “The Questions That Should Be on the Quiz.” How to Be Dutch is accompanied by entertaining cartoons by illustrator Floor de Goede and hilarious photographs by the author.’ DutchNews.nl
Greg Shapiro Introduces Same-Day PowerPoint Parodies for Corporate Events
12 January, 2024
“Could you watch a day full of keynote speakers and then – at the end – perform a parody PowerPoint, based on their PowerPoints?” The answer is YES.
At the end of a corporate event, you’ll sometimes see a sketch artist give their impressions of the day. Or a spoken word artist. Or me, doing a standup routine.
NOW you can watch me perform a comedy version of the highlights of the day, with a tailor-made PowerPoint presentation.
The visionary who tasked me with this challenge was Ton Wesseling from Online Dialogue. I’m always inspired by his events on the subject of CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization). When he first hired me a few years ago, I did a tailored PowerPoint – with a few last-minute additions: my impressions of the day. In 2023, he hired me again – but this time he asked if I could give my impressions of ALL the speakers. Obviously, the most challenging were the speakers toward the end. Not as much prep time. BUT – I did it!
Thank you Ton, for forcing me to develop a format that didn’t really exist yet. Since Ton is obsessed with data and testing, he gave me a score: “We are always looking for speakers with a 70% or higher Good or Awesome rating. Your score: 90.5%!:”
Here are the Reviews:
“It is truly awesome how he dares to be on stage being funny about sessions that happened only an hour ago.”
“Super impressive how much he listened and took that onboard.”
“Great presentation. Great energy. Super impressed with how quickly you pulled it all together, especially for the ones who had only just spoken before your session. Really tough to nail it but you did. Bravo.”
“Greg had me crying from laughter at some point …and I was really impressed of his recollection of the event.”
“Thanks for the amazing closing keynote. I truly admire your talent to come up with something in such a short time that is so funny, and also makes you think.”
“I love his energy and attitude. He greatly adapted to the world of CRO and improvised.”
“Really fun close of the weekend with the ‘roast’ like presentation. Greg just gives energy to the crowd.”
“Great closing keynote Greg! You certainly shook everybody up that were on the break of tuning out.”
“I love your jokes, rants and energy. Very nicely improvised and integrated …Love it!”
Watch: Greg Shapiro PowerPoint parody at CRO event ‘Conversion Hotel.’
In Praise of Folly! This year’s Dutch Erasmus award was given to a comedian: Trevor Noah. It was an event full of Dutch comedy royalty – and actual Dutch royalty.
The event started with King Willem Alexander making jokes – and getting laughs! “I have the distinction of having sat on the lap of the previous winner, the last time it was a comedian: Charlie Chaplin in 1965. …Don’t worry, this is not a Dutch tradition.”
Trevor Noah actually made fewer jokes than expected – until the end: “I’m very proud that – after 220 years – a South African is able to take a few resources from the Netherlands back to the Cape.” He zinged the King!
Then he went and sat down in between the King and his mother, (former) Queen Beatrix. It was like watching a mini White House Press Correspondents’ Dinner.
After the Royal Comedy Event – SCHMOOZING WITH THE KING
If you’ve never been inside the Paleis op de Dam, I can recommend visiting when the Dutch royal family is hosting. I’ve attended events with King Willem Alexander before, but he’s usually whisked away quickly. This time the Dutch King seemed to want to stick around and chat with Dutch comedy royalty, like Claudia de Breij and Peter Pannekoek and even Andrew Moskos. “Is it harder to make jokes in a tense political climate? What kind of jokes go too far?” (And I was thinking “Is it all a bit too white?”) But then Soundos el-Ahmadi swooped in and took over. “Can I take a selfie?” Willem Alexander: “I’m not allowed to say yes.” Soundos: “That’s not ‘NO’!” So she broke open the floodgates (a true Dutch taboo), and then everyone got selfies with the King. I did mine modestly, from a distance. To make sure it would be the worst selfie ever:
THE GREEN KING
But I did talk to the King! I told him I might see him at the event I’m hosting next spring for the Dutch green startup Growy and the first harvest of their urban vertical farm in Amsterdam. He said “Sounds interesting,” which I relayed to the founder of Growy – who still doesn’t believe me.
(I also bumped into former Queen Beatrix! She is so little, and she was saying “I can’t see… Where is my son?” So I cleared a path for her. A couple people gave me eye daggers, but then they saw who was behind me, and they moved aside real quick. At the end I asked her for a photo, and she looked at me like I was crazy.)
And yes, I said hi to Trevor Noah. But I didn’t take a photo, because he was getting mobbed. Trevor, next time I see you I’ll say thanks for the inspiring words. Yes, comedy does connect people. Even if we oppose each other politically, when we share a laugh – in real time – we agree.
Thank you to the PraemiumErasmianum for the invite! Thank you to Boom Chicago for saving me a seat. And thank you to Erasmus the philosopher who was indeed Dutch. Without his writings, there would be no Reformation or Protestant religion. His “most famous” work is a socio-political satire called In Praise of Folly. Happy 65th Anniversary to the Erasmus Awards. You did well to pick a comedian.
Review ‘PEP & GREG POLITICALLY INCORRECT’ – a Dutch Election Comedy Show, by ARTS TALK MAGAZINE
24 November, 2023
Thank you to ArtsTalk Magazine for coming to review our Dutch election comedy show 2023! Friday, 24 November. The election results were just 36 hours old, and we rewrote half the show: “Pep & I are 99% shocked the Netherlands voted for Geert Wilders… And we’re 1% delighted. For every time back in 2016 when Dutch people told us ‘You Americans are so stupid to vote for a right-wing, anti-immigrant populist with strange blond hair.’ Well? Now how does it feel!?”
So much new material, and yes the emotions were raw. Did the reviewer notice? Oh yes. Rose Fawbert Mills noted that the show could have been tighter. But let’s focus on her positive quotes:
“a satirical night of comedy reviewing the American and Dutch political systems was very appealing and not to be missed.”
“Greg’s Trump impersonation …very, very good.”
“the use of visuals – photos, memes, video clips – was engaging and entertaining. It gave the show a very ‘current’ feel.”
“the overall the show was good. laughed out loud.”
‘Pep & Greg Politically Incorrect’ is our way of saying we think politics are being done incorrectly. We use the show to celebrate the worst of Dutch & US politics. In the US, President Biden is actually a great politician – but a terrible candidate. And in the Netherlands, there are so many political parties it’s almost like we could start our own party based on the people in the audience that night. SO that’s what we do. And – when Joe Biden gets kicked out as leader of the Democrat Party in the US – why not have him lead our new Dutch party?
Pep & Greg will be back for more dates at Boom Chicago. Potentially in December. And definitely in 2024.
Greg Shapiro Wrote the Foreword for this Dutch Dictionary
13 November, 2023
Flashback to 2008: Our good friends at DutchNews.nl were writing a guide to Dutch abbreviations, called the Dictionary of Dutchness: from ATV to ZZP’er. And I was asked to write the Foreword.
Here it is again:
Welcome to this fine collection of bizarre words and phrases in the world’s best Nether-language: Dutch.
Many people will no doubt want to use this book as a practical guide to practical Dutch. But please consider its true value – as a sometimes hilarious exercise in explaining the charming and ridiculous abbreviations in the Dutch language.
Dutch people are among the tallest in the world. Fittingly, the words they use are often just as ‘long.’ If you have ever wondered how onroerendezaakbelasting can exist as a word, read on. If you have ever suspected that some short simple words like aso are actually hiding longer, more threatening words, then this book is for you.
The Dutch language seems obsessed with taking long words and then making them small and cute. Maybe that’s because Dutch culture has a minderwaardigheidscomplex (minority complex). Or – to make this word smaller and cuter too – MiWaCo (pronounced “me wacko”).
Even the famous Dutch fast food outlet FEBO is named after the location of its first-ever shop on the Ferdinand Bolstraat. They could better have named it FerBol – since the contents of a Dutch kroket resemble something a cat coughed up.
If I got any more passionate about this book, the vloekmonitor would call me a TBS-er, and I’d never get a VOG. To find out what I just said, read on!
Warning: By reading this guide to the Dutch language, you risk becoming more knowledgeable about Dutch than the Dutch themselves, who always lose to the Belgians on the TV quiz show Tien voor Taal.
In closing, when I say the Dutch language is charmingly ridiculous, please don’t believe me. Believe the thousands of Dutch people who feel the same way. But if you want them to admit it, you’ll have to first throw some Dutch language at them. Hopefully this book will help. And once they start answering back in Dutch lingo, this book will give you some idea of what the hell they’re talking about.
Pep & Greg are back! This time we’re comparing the Worst of the 2023 Dutch election to the Worst of US election 2024.
The Netherlands: “We sent angry farmers with pitchforks to protest in the Hague…”
USA: “Hold my beer! (… storms Capitol on January 6.)”
To us, “Politically Incorrect” means politics being done incorrectly. USA, you have a 2-party system, which is very binary – almost bi-polar. And if the USA is bi-polar, then the Netherlands has multiple personality disorder.
I’ve been writing comedy with Pep Rosenfeld since we were in high school. (In 1985, we predicted Rupert Murdoch would take over TV stations and make America dumber.) We’ve written & performed political standup specials since 2001, including Trump Up the Volume – the show we were only supposed to perform in 2016. Along the way, critics say:
‘Superior. Hilarious satire’ – Theaterkrant.nl
‘Greg is a scarily real fake Trump’ – Het Parool
From the Boom Chicago website:
Boom founder Pep Rosenfeld (Emmy nominated SNL writer) and Greg Shapiro (the famous ‘Netherlands Second’ Trump video) are back at Boom Chicago with their famous mix of comedy and current events.
They will skewer the latest from American and Dutch society. Will America elect a president in prison?
Will the cranky farmers take over the Netherlands?
Like usual, Pep and Greg will tackle it all and hold nothing back!
In a world filled with fake news, AI, conspiracy theories, guns, race issues, climate change, Mark Rutte retiring and Joe Biden not, Pep and Greg will make you laugh!
Pep and Greg Politically Incorrect is a new Boom Chicago show that is not just for those who follow America (though they will love it).
With standup comedy, improvisation and sharp commentary, the duo from Trump Up the Volume have created a new, smart show for anyone who likes to laugh.
PRAISE for Pep & Greg’s previous Boom Chicago shows:
‘Sharp satire and world class improvisation’ – De Volkskrant
‘Five stars! Greg and Pep have an incredible charisma and are very funny….’ — D Robbinson, Trip Advisor
‘Jokes were well-sculpted and wide-ranging. Engaging with the audience, they were quick, provocative and pugnacious.’– ArtsTalkMagazine.nl
Greg Shapiro ‘Shapiro ListPusher Standup Special’ now on YouTube
17 October, 2023
“If you’ve been living in the Netherlands long enough you can pronounce the word Gemeenteraadsverkiezingen (city council election), then maybe you can vote in the Gemeenteraadsverkiezingen!”
– from LISTPUSHER – the American Netherlander Joins Dutch Politics
In 2022, I was asked by a friend of mine in the Amsterdam City Council if I’d like to help out with his election campaign. In fact, this time his team wanted me not just as a volunteer – but as a symbolic candidate on the list. No, I would’t be at the top of the list – that was the job of the Lijsttrekker, or “List Puller.” I would be at the bottom of the list, hence the term “List Pusher.” And indeed, my job was to help convince potential voters that they should vote. Much like a Pusher Man: “Give it a try, the first vote is free…”
But first I had to make sure this party was for me. I had to make sure it was the most ideologically suited. So I found the online voting guide called stemwijzer.
They have 30 questions, you agree or disagree, and by the end they tell you which party is for you. As an experiment, you can click ‘No opinion’ for every question, and the party they give you? D66. That’s my party!
(NB – does not apply for 2023 election.)
Created for the 2022 UICF Utrecht International Comedy Festival.
Audio & video via UICF. Producers Edo Berger, Jeroen Pater (ComedyHuis Utrecht).
Intro by Trista Mrema. And extra thanks to Comedyhuis in Utrecht!
Shapiro Shares ‘7th Guest’ Reviews – from the remake of the classic video game
16 October, 2023
This week I’m in the premiere of a classic video game remake – The 7th Guest. As one of the 6 guests in the storyline, I can say that it was super fun to make… And early reviews are saying it’s also super fun to play. Well done Vertigo Games – I can’t wait to play it myself!
Here’s an updated preview:
And here are some early ‘7th Guest’ Reviews.
The 7th Guest VR hands-on preview — A Virtual Reinvention of a Classic
“Equal parts reinvention and homage to the past, this new version is everything my brain remembers the original to be, only now it’s real.”
The 7th Guest VR Preview: A Potentially Groundbreaking Title For VR Gaming
“Often when titles are translated to a new platform or play style, there is a concern that what makes the game special will be lost in the process. For something that began as a point-and-click to be adapted for VR, this is even more of a pressing worry. All those worries for The 7th Guest VR should be cast aside, however, as this version of the game handles its modern upgrades excellently.”
And here’s a Behind-the-Scenes blog from the screenwriter Claire Downs, on Steampowered:
“The plot of The 7th Guest reminds me of those great stories that blend horror, mystery, and witty banter, like Clue or The House on Haunted Hill (1959) starring Vincent Price. In these stories, you have this big, mysterious place and these more minor, personal mysteries woven throughout.
Shirley Jackson is a hero of mine. And, her ability to bring together horror elements and social issues was groundbreaking and so influential. It is such a fantastic opportunity to play in that kind of sandbox. Not to spoil too much, but I think with Stauf’s story, we’ve channeled some of that, touching on themes of mortality and humanity in a fresh, fun, and frightening way.” https://store.steampowered.com/news/app/2456960/view/3741984674872329502
From the producer:
Explore The 7th Guest VR foreboding mansion, solve challenging puzzles, and uncover dark secrets. The 7th Guest VR is the ultimate mystery adventure, and it’s almost time for you to experience it for yourself. Wishlist Now → http://the7thguest-vr.com
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
VULTURE.COM – The Best Comedy Books of 2023 (So Far) by Brian Boone, who writes about comedy
“As far as generationally significant, tone-setting, comedian-developing institutions go, Second City and Upright Citizens Brigade, and their many affiliates, get almost all the attention and credit. But there’s a third, and until now, largely unheralded player, and that’s Boom Chicago. Many of today’s most thoughtful, emotionally and politically driven comedians honed their chops at Boom Chicago, an American theatrical and improvisational comedy troupe that primarily operates in Amsterdam. Jordan Peele, Seth Meyers, and Amber Ruffin are all veterans, and it’s where Brendan Hunt and Jason Sudeikis met and first worked together. Ted Lasso wouldn’t have happened without the frenetic, patient, performer-driven lab-like atmosphere of Boom Chicago. The mock-self-aggrandizing of the subtitle — The 30 Most Important Years in Dutch History — belies how Boom Chicago just is that important to 21st-century comedy. The baby-faced photos of current legends are fun, but the book’s tone of fascination and how the sausage is made provides a compelling account of how improv is crafted, and how Boom Chicago’s approach informed so much of its participants’ later work.”
“Large swatches of the book look and read like an oral history, in which prominent and not so prominent BookChicago alums prattle on, reminiscing about moments in BoomChicago’s rise from a ragtag group of improv comedians performing in 1993 in the back of dive bar to hothouse for creating future celebrities to a bone fide part of Dutch comedy world. As oral histories go, it’s not bad stuff.”
“when it comes to comedy in Holland, Boom Chicago is a winner.”
“Much of the book takes the form of conversations between Boom stalwarts and this unusual format works brilliantly,”
“a must-have for Boom fans and, indeed, those interested in comedy in general.” It says a lot about Amsterdam that for thirty years it has sustained, nay, gloried in and cherished an English speaking comedy venue. I don’t know about New York and Chicago but there has only been The Comedy Store in London that exceeds the longevity that Boom Chicago has enjoyed in the Dutch city. …when it comes to comedy in Holland, Boom Chicago is a winner.
..this book is, inevitably, a stroll down memory lane. And fascinating stuff it is too. In the lengthy introduction by founders Andrew Moskos and Pep Rosenfeld we learn how Boom Chicago was born and how, against the odds, it survived and grew to maturity.
Much of the book takes the form of conversations between Boom stalwarts and this unusual format works brilliantly, being much more personal and illuminating than a straightforward narrative. So, there are contributions from all the usual suspects, most of whom will be familiar to fans of Boom. To jog their memory there is a list of alumni from 1993 to 2023 which, according to a quick count is in excess of one hundred and thirty.
Boom Chicago presents The 30 Most Important Years in Dutch History is clearly a must-have for Boom fans and, indeed, those interested in comedy in general.”