Holland Tag

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!


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!


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.’

 

25 Years in Holland! …Sorry “The Netherlands”

25 Years in Holland! …Sorry: The Netherlands

(As seen in Hello Zuidas, January 2020)

Hoera! I’m celebrating 25 years in Dutch-land / Holland / The Netherlands. When I got here, the country couldn’t make up its mind what to call itself. Interestingly, neither could I. Growing up, my name was “Greg Shore.” That was my step-father’s name. But it was the Dutch who would interrogate me about my authentic name: “What’s your birth name? THAT’S your name!” I grew up thinking Shapiro sounded too Jewish. But Dutch people universally replied “Shapiro: cool name.” What better way to say “welcome?” And my name was not the only one that would change.

Zuidas was not called Zuidas. Was there even a Station Zuid? No. It was Station Zuid WTC. They changed the name somewhere in the early 2000’s. Apparently after 9/11, the term World Trade Center was just not great branding. Zuidas back then was… I don’t really know. Like so many expats when they first arrive, my entire world was pretty much Amsterdam Centrum. Well, Centrum and the Vreemdelingenpolitie in Slotermeer. But soon enough every expat knew WTC as home the Amsterdam Expat Center! Of course, by now they’ve changed their name too. Now it’s IN Amsterdam. I just call it “The Office Formerly Known As ExpatCenter.”

When I came to the Netherlands, the country marketing said “Visit Holland.” The logo of the tourism board was a tulip saying “Welcome to Holland.” And the in-flight KLM magazine was called The Holland Herald. It’s no wonder most people fail to realize the name of the country is The Netherlands. Maybe it’s just too long, too clunky, not great for marketing. But then came a little viral video called “Netherlands Second,” which turned out to be pretty good advertising for this country’s true name. Then came The Netherlands winning Eurovision 2019 – and hosting Eurovision 2020!

And now – for the first time in at least 25 years – the Dutch government is ditching the term Holland and rebranding as The Netherlands. You’re welcome!