Europe Tag

The EU Needs a Late Night Comedy Show | a TED Talk by Greg Shapiro

The EU Needs a Late Night Comedy Show | a TED Talk by Greg Shapiro
6 April, 2022

Now that Europe’s best-known comedian is busy doing his Winston Churchill impression in Ukraine, Europe needs a new Head Comedian. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has given a big boost to European unity. Time to capitalize on our common sense of community?

Now more than ever, the EU needs a late night comedy show.

Granted, this argument is one I’ve been making for years. In fact it was in 2021 that I made this TED talk for TEDx VU Amsterdam: ‘The EU Needs a Late Night Comedy Show.’

It has been proven: Comedy helps cognition, especially in younger demographics – exactly the ones we need to engage. In America, a majority of 18-35 year-olds say they get most of their news from late night comedy programs, like The Daily Show. And for good reason! Jokes engage emotion. Emotion aids cognition.

More specifically, a study from the University of Pennsylvania concludes that humor helps people remember news better. And it makes them more likely to share the news with others. (watch the video)
Maybe there’s a reason for the popularity of comedy shows like The Daily Show, The Late Show, and Late Night with Seth Meyers (my former colleague).

WHY IS THERE NO LATE NIGHT COMEDY SHOW FOR THE EU?
In a way, there is. In 2017, Dutch late night comedian Arjen Lubach achieved international success with his viral video ‘Netherlands Second,’ (for which I provided the voice). There are German late night comedians like Jan Boehmermann and Oliver Welke.

Personally, I’ve hosted my a late night comedy show in the Netherlands: COMEDY CENTRAL NEWS: Because Dutch News is News Too. I’ve even hosted a YouTube version of a show called THE UNITED STATES OF EUROPE: Giving EU leaders the respect they deserve by ridiculing them on a regular basis.

My mission was to create a network of EU comedy correspondents. I would still love to make this dream a reality. All I would need is a generous subsidy from an intra-governmental agency that’s happy to throw away money on hopeless projects in arts & culture.
…THAT’S THE VERY DEFINITION OF THE EU. 

If you fund it, I will come.

The United States of Europe: MAKING FUN OF THE EU, THE AMERICAN WAY. 

WATCH:

Remote Meetings Are Dead – Long Live Hybrid Meetings! Greg Shapiro

Remote Meetings Are Dead; Long Live Hybrid Meetings!
7 March, 2022

In February I was called upon to do two separate events for Janssen Pharmaceuticals in Belgium – both remote meetings. Now that Covid restrictions are lifting in the Netherlands and Belgium, you might expect a return to 100% live events ! And you’d be wrong. Looks like hybrid meetings are the New Normal.

The first remote meeting was an expat event, and I was asked to make a 20-minute tailored video.

Would there be enough material about cultural quirks in Belgium? Oh, yes. But how far should I go in making fun of Belgium? I started out with “Who knew one country could drink so much beer? Even the children drink to excess – at least that’s what I assume since the national mascot is a boy urinating.”

I sent in my video – via WeTransfer. Would they approve? Would they even watch it before plopping it into their meeting? I didn’t hear anything back… until after the day of the meeting. The subject heading said “LOVED IT!” Phew. “We used your video at our event yesterday and it was great. It really hit the right note and was enjoyed by all. We hope to see you again – hopefully F2F next time.”

Indeed, we were hoping for F2F Face to Face next time. But the next time was a hybrid meeting. Which was fine! The second Janssen remote meeting was produced by Co-MANA, who created a pop-up studio in Belgium. There was a giant LED wall, with projections that could change themes for the two-day event.

 

There was a dedicated screen with a dedicated link to the internal Janssen team leaders. There was a live monitor. And there was a prompter screen, which doubled as a link to the Q&A moderator. And we ended with a live band, who played during the interactive quiz.

It would have been nice to have the team leaders on location, as well as the band. Heck, it would have been nice to have a fully live event. But if Hybrid Meetings are the new normal for now, i gotta say this meeting was great. 

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!

GREG SHAPIRO ADDED TO NEW TEAM: MODERATING.EU

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.

RECOMMENDATIONS
“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 Guests at the ‘SNL of the EU’: The Schuman Show

Greg Shapiro Guests at the ‘SNL of the EU’: The Schuman Show
27 October, 2021

For years, I’ve been wondering why the EU doesn’t have a late night comedy show. I’ve even been trying to make one myself since 2014. But now there’s a new kid on the block: the Brussels monthly series called The Schuman Show. You see, Robert Schuman is one of the founders of the European Union. And The Truman Show is a movie from the 90s. Together, this is apparently enough to generate a full audience in Brussels. A very full audience. As I found out when I took part in October.

YOUTUBE: EuroNews: The Schuman Show: or how to poke fun at EU politics

The Schuman Show is the brainchild of Kelly Agathos, an expat who started out inside ‘the Brussels Bubble.’
These days, Kelly is the founder of ‘ImproBubble’ – the closest thing to a Boom Chicago comedy theater in Belgium. I made contact with Kelly and said I’d be interested in seeing a show someday. She turned around and asked if I would want to participate in the October edition of The Schuman Show. I said “YES, AND.”

 

I was invited to improvise a scene – as Donald Trump – interacting with an improvised Angela Merkel. Merkel would be played by Barry McKeon, a crowd favorite. Based on current events – Merkel would be at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, and Trump would ambush her backstage, since he was in Scotland to play golf and had no idea there was a summit going on.

 

The show started out with a cold open, reminiscent of Saturday Night Live. In which EU commission President Ursula ‘VDL’ von der Leyen has to deal with Poland and cutting off their funding. The scene ended in a rap battle called ’99 Problems But a Budget Ain’t One.’ There were sketches, songs, improvisations. And then I played my Trump imitation – probably too well. Wow, that crowd hated Trump! And they loved Angela poking holes in Trump’s thin skin.

 

Next up, I got to drop the Trump imitation and improvise as myself. With the other actors, I took part in a game of ‘Worlds Worst.’ The audience shouted out ‘Consultant.’ And as ‘World’s Worst Consultant,’ I simply said “Hi, I work for McKenzie.” And I got a huge laugh! Always gratifying to get a laugh based on an article I read in The Economist.

 

There was a sketch about James Bond trying – and failing – to infiltrate EU bureaucracy. There was an opening monologue about the news of the week. And there was a folk song about ‘The Answer My Friend Is Blowing Lots of Wind.’ With regular contributors to politico.eu.

There was a sketch about James Bond trying – and failing – to infiltrate EU bureaucracy. There was an opening monologue about the news of the week. And there was a folk song about ‘The Answer My Friend Is Blowing Lots of Wind.’ With regular contributors to politico.eu.

The Schuman Show according to Kelly Agathos:
“A Late-Night-meets-SNL variety show; I am the host and open with a monologue. It’s called The Schuman Show (named after Robert Schuman, one of the founders of the European Union, but also the name of a roundabout in the heart of Brussels’ European quarter- a bit like what K Street is for Washington).
Little by little, I found some Brussels-based folks from the local stand up and improv scene, and The Schuman show was born.

We’ve received a lot of attention and we have plans to put more content online in the future, so that we can really reach a large Europe-wide audience and finally make ‘Boring Brussels’ funny, interesting and relevant to the average citizen.”

Q&A: Why EU Vaccine Strategy Is Not as Bad as You Think

Q&A: Why EU Vaccine Strategy Is Not as Bad as You Think

On my YouTube channel, I have a long-running show called ‘United States of Europe’ – Making fun of the EU the American way. So of course, I had to make fun of the EU’s comically slow Covid vaccination rates, as compared to the US and the UK. BUT along the way, I realized – it’s not that simple. In fact, in many ways EU vaccination policy is not as bad as you’d think.

In the video, I started with:
“The World Health Organization (WHO) has criticized the rollout of coronavirus vaccines in Europe as being ‘unacceptably slow.’ I’m in the Netherlands and as of April, even my friend who works in health care can’t ‘get a jab.’
I know the Dutch are famous for the ‘Netherlands Second’ video. But now it’s more like ‘we know it’s going to be the rest of the EU first, but can we just say NL 27th?’

When it comes to vaccinations, you have to think of the German poet Heinrich Heine who said: ‘When the end of the world comes make your way to Holland. There everything happens fifty years late.'”

…SO that was where I would normally end the video. BUT this time I decided go a bit deeper.

One of the people who appreciated my video was Trendwatcher Vincent Everts. Vincent is a longtime friend of Boom Chicago, (and he hosts a weekly online show with America expert Charles Groenhuijsen). Vincent noticed that my EU vaccine video was a lot longer than usual. Because there was a lot more to cover! So we did a deep dive interview. Well, it wasn’t supposed to be such a deep dive, because it was on a Saturday morning. And he totally missed his slot on the tennis court.

For more regular updates on The United States of Europe, check http://youtube.com/gregshapiro .