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.
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!
Greg Shapiro Teams Up with Ken Parsons for Berlin Mini-Tour Oct. 2023
27 sept., 2023
UNSUNG HEROES: Comedy veterans Greg Shapiro and Ken Parsons team up to tell stories of their early days. Ken Parsons was busking in Berlin in the days of 1989. Greg Shapiro was one of the originals at Boom Chicago theater in Amsterdam. Together they perform a mini-tour of Berlin.
Comedians Ken Parsons & Greg Shapiro:
Both were born in ‘68, the year of tumultuous change and revolt.
Both left their native lands to seek their fortunes abroad.
Both have stuck to their guns and have watched the projects they helped kick-start flourish.
Greg achieved critical acclaim with his voice of Trump in the viral video ‘Netherlands Second’. Ken set up a series of autonomous comedy stages which soon became renowned and have featured international acts, prompting Time to dub him ‘The Maestro of the Underground’.
Be a hero, too and try and catch them! All of the shows will be great but the Finale of the Tour at the brilliant Cosmic Comedy Club will be the one to head to if you want to see the show in its longest form!
Geil, ey! Toppie, hoor!
Greg Shapiro and Ken Parsons: The ‘Unsung Heroes’ Berlin 29 Sept – 3 Oct
29/09 The Wall Comedy, Friedrichshain
30/09 The Wall Comedy, Friedrichshain
01/10 East West Comedy, (open mic try out) Kreuz-Kölln
02/10 Karakas Bar, Mitte
03/10 Cosmic Comedy, Mitte
BIOGRAPHY GREG SHAPIRO Greg Shapiro: Comedian, American, Dutchman. (And the voice of the ‘Netherlands Second’ video with imitators like Neo Magasin Royal). Shapiro was the host of Comedy Central News: “because Dutch news is news too.” His voice has appeared on ZDF’s Heute Show. And he helped establish the Amsterdam comedy theater Boom Chicago, helping launch the careers of alumni like Seth Meyers, Jordan Peele and the creators of Ted Lasso.
With Boom Chicago, Shapiro performed shows in memorable settings. He performed a show on 9/11. He has performed for the King of the Netherlands, French President François Hollande, and NATO. He has also performed on moving buses, student living rooms, and once in the Business Class section of a KLM 747 flying to Chicago. Shapiro’s latest standup special is Greg Shapiro Saves the Climate: 60 Minutes of Climate Good News.
BIOGRAPHY KEN PARSONS The Wall Years
Ken comes from Plymouth but together with his friend Chris Stevens they formed a band called Who’s Rachel?
Ken- as if in an ETA Hoffmann tale- went on to study German and was assistant teacher at the Robert Koch school in Kreuzberg, aptly enough in Berlin’s ‘Grimm Kiez’. Ken wrote a thesis on folklore and the style of his stories can be called ‘punk parables’ or ‘urban fairy tales.’
18 sept., 2023
Hooray! I hosted another green event, this time for a sustainable chicken farm called Kipster.
Kipster (not Kipsta) started with 2 Dutch chicken farms, creating the world’s first carbon neutral eggs. Now this Dutch business is expanding into the US, and to host their launch event, they called me: The American Netherlander. The event took place in North Manchester, Indiana (23 Aug). And Queen Maxima even taped a video message.
To prepare, I met with one of the founders Olivier Wegloop, who is a vegan and animal rights activist. Here he is in the blue shirt behind me (gawd it was hot in that tent…)
Olivier believes in the writings of animal rights activists like Temple Grandin, who said: “nature is cruel, but we don’t have to be. If we are raising animals to be eaten, at least we can treat them with some respect.“ (and then we got to interview Grandin… see below) Since chickens are traditionally forest animals, Kipster has created – not only a cage-free environment, but – a fun forest.
As you can see, they still lay plenty of eggs.
Another Kipster founder is Ruud Zanders, who explained the main reason their chickens are carbon neutral: they feed the chickens food waste.
Every year A) humanity grows enough food to feed 4 billion people – and then we give it to livestock, B) of all the food we produce, we waste about 33%. Kipster simply asks: “Why not feed the chickens food waste?” The motto of Kipster is “Crops should be about Food not Feed.” This ground-breaking strategy is actually thousands of years old. But …
KIPSTER’S REVOLUTIONARY TWIST
The revolutionary part of Kipster is: Roosters for Meat.
Since male chickens don’t lay eggs – and they’re considered too gamey to eat – the normal practice on chicken farms is to kill baby male chicks they day they hatch. (The waste product is hopefully repurposed into things like pet food.) But Kipster asks “what if we let the roosters grow to maturity (and then we eat them)? How gamey are they really?”
To end the event, Kipster served up the first-ever rooster meatballs. I met with Managing Director Sandra Vijn to try one. And I thought it the texture was perfect. The tray of ‘Boom Boom’ rooster balls was not finished at closing time, and I was afraid it might become food waste… but I suppose the rooster meat was fed to the hens. What better way to say ‘Death to the Patriarchy’ -?
Thanks to Olivier Wegloop for putting this event together. He was the one who arranged an interview with Dr Temple Grandin – via Livestream. Dr. Grandin is famously autistic, and she demanded to see all the questions in advance. Then – as soon as Olivier asked his first question – she just went on a rant about sustainable farming and animal behavior and didn’t stop. She’s a legend!
Thank you to Olivier & Sandra for inviting me. Thank you to the Dutch Consulate of Chicago for putting us in touch (years ago). And thank you to Markey’s Event Services who created the backbone for an extremely professional show – including full build and build-down in extreme heat. And they made it look easy.
12 Sept., 2023
In its first 30 years, Boom Chicago Comedy Theater started the careers of Seth Meyers, Jordan Peele, the Ted Lasso creators – and me. Now it’s time to share some classic tales from their Origin Stories. Time for Shapiro Boom Chicago Tales!
I came to Amsterdam to work with the Boom Chicago comedy theater for just one summer – and 30 years later, I’m still here. Along the way, I’ve worked alongside so many now-famous folks, playing improv comedy – where the Golden Rule is Make your partner look good onstage. “Make your partner look good!” And looking at their careers – versus mine – I think I did my job extremely well.
BOOM CHICAGO TALES FROM THE ARCHIVES
In this video series, I share some backstage stories – from 1 person you might have heard of and 1 person you might not have.
This episode: Jordan Peele & Dave Buckman.
You might know Jordan Peele for winning an Oscar for his film Get Out in 2017. But back in 2001, he started playing comedy with us in Amsterdam.
As Jordan writes in the Boom Chicago book: “The biggest laughs I’ve ever been part of, or seen, were at Boom Chicago. Going to Amsterdam actually gave me more experience as a writer and a performer and as a human being than I would’ve gotten anywhere else—and with no better people.”
Unfortunately – according to Jordan – these days he says he can’t remember a lot of specifics from back then, because he smoked a lot of weed. From my book, I wrote: “Jordan smoked so much weed he was like Cinderella: at midnight he’d transform after 12 bongs.”
Jordan smoking weed was the inspiration for a classic character bit. In the days after 9/11, performing comedy was hard. One of the first jokes we dared making on the subject was Jordan Peele and Dave Buckman portraying al Qaeda spokesmen in Afghanistan – as stoners like Cheech & Chong. Their act even made the news as the first comedians to joke about 9/11. And Jordan smoking weed was the inspiration.
Greg Shapiro Helps Celebrate ‘4 More Years’ of Castro Communicatie, May 2023
31 July, 2023
How do you celebrate your 4th anniversary as a Dutch political consultancy? With a political-themed party called “Four More Years!” Dutch communication and lobbying agency Castro Communicatie hired me to help them celebrate their fourth birthday, at The Loft in the A’dam Tower Amsterdam.
Stefan de Bruijn, Greg Shapiro, Frits Huffnagel
I asked if “Four More Years” might seem too partisan for their clientele? But of course – in the upcoming 2024 US election – the term “Four More Years” could apply to two different candidates: Biden and Trump. So “Four More Years” it was! They wanted an event with all the hype and hollering of American campaign – but with a Dutch twist. Who better to help them than The American Netherlander?
Castro Communicatie gets its name from the Castro district in San Francisco, the historic gay capital of the US. The two business partners (who also have male life partners) are Stefan de Bruijn and Frits Huffnagel. (aka S+F for SF: San Francisco). And they base their political consulting on the American model, so a connection to the USA seemed a perfect fit. (And then of course there’s Fidel Castro, who was famous for giving political speeches lasting for hours – which Frits and Stefan try to avoid.)
My job was to host the video presentations – and give a 20-minute keynote speech about the 4-year history of Castro Communicatie and the unique appeal of their Dutch-American style. In English, of course. Were there some older folks who didn’t like standing? Yes. Was there a MAGA hat or two? Yes. And was there one tired guy right up front? Also yes. Luckily, I’ve been trained to focus on people who are laughing, and that was most of them.
They did a great job organizing this event – with real popcorn!
And I got to meet the DJ, who is also a former client and currently the mayor of Halderberge in Brabant: Bernd ROKS!
Congrats Castro Communicatie! We wish you a happy 4 more years.
Background: Two Dutch entrepreneurs (and train nerds) created a startup company to offer more overnight train service throughout Europe. And – after years of crowd-funding and organizing – the day of the maiden voyage had arrived! While the two founders were focused on preparing the photo moment of the train departing… the event organizer told them they really should consider a professional host for the launch event.
I was told that the two founders were nervous and rather serious. So – as soon as I met them, I said “I hear you two are entrepreneurs… but I assume you’re primarily train nerds?” And I asked if I could take a selfie with them. Here’s what we got:
I could tell this was going to be fun.
The launch event was held in the Pullman Hotel. Hence, my intro wrote itself: “The Pullman Hotel refers, I assume, to George Mortimer Pullman – the inventor of the first railroad sleeping car. And where did George Pullman set up his business? Chicago, Illinois – which is where I’m from. …Hence, my entire life has been leading up to this moment!”
THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN
I had to ask a question of the two founders. “Everyone knows there’s a term for having sex on a plane: ‘The Mile-High Club.’ So why is there no term for having sex on a train?” And I was quickly corrected by founder Chris Engelsman, with a perfect deadpan delivery: “There is a term, actually. It’s called ‘The Mile-Long Club.’”
The event ended with the Belgian transport minister taking the stage and announcing the news: the Belgian parliament had voted to grant a subsidy to The European Sleeper and their Goodnight Train. Hey, I was already thrilled to hear that Belgium had a functioning government.
The train arrived on time and departed on time, with many happy first-time passengers.
And look at serious entrepreneur Chris Engelsman as the European Sleeper train arrives in the station.
The Goodnight Train is now running regularly from Brussels to Amsterdam to Berlin. https://www.europeansleeper.eu/en
Next up, they plan to extend service to Prague. Soon, there will be a new service from Brussels to Barcelona. It’s like playing real-life game of Ticket to Ride!
Thanks to the excellent Alvin Williams at JMT Management for organizing a memorable event. Extra thanks for all the photos.
Greg Shapiro Contributes to the Boom Chicago 30th Anniversary Book
14 June 2023
Finally, a proper oral history of the Boom Chicago Comedy Theater – and I got to contribute! About 30 years ago I came to Amsterdam to perform for one summer, and I never left. Along the way, I got to work alongside now-famous names, such as Seth Meyers, Jordan Peele and Kay Cannon. And the comedy form we all played was improvisation, where the Golden Rule is: “Make Your Partner Look Good Onstage.” And looking at their careers, versus mine, I like to think I did my job VERY well.
The book features a foreword by Seth Meyers, a voorwoord by Ruben van der Meer, a BackWord by Jordan Peele – and a Who’sWho Section by me (and fellow Boom Chicago lifer Rob Andristplourde). Author Matt Diehl teams up with Boom Chicago founders Saskia Maas, Andrew Moskos and Pep Rosenfeld to write the book. Rob and focused on the some of the juicy anecdotes that did not get covered in the oral history interviews. Such as:
-The time Seth Meyers improvised with an audience member who pretended to be retarded.
-The time Jordan Peele got into a rap battle with that guy from Seinfeld.
+ The reason Amber Ruffin’s tooth was hanging on the wall.
And I added this bit about myself:
“Greg almost moved back to the US like Pep – until he met a Dutch woman named Inez (who was working in the Boom Chicago office). On the eve of his wedding to Inez, Greg’s bachelor party was crashed by Inez and a number of Boom Chicago cast members. These included Kay Cannon as a naughty nurse, Liz Cackowski as a Catholic school girl, Jen Bills as a cop, and Holly Walker as a straight-up dominatrix. Together, they performed a girl band version of the Boy Band song from the show called “That’s What He Likes.” And no, it wasn’t inappropriate! Because the only actual semi-stripping was done by Inez. And she is Dutch.”
(Here is a pose from 1994 with the founders of Boom Chicago Pep Rosenfeld and Andrew Moskos.)
Pre-order “Boom Chicago Presents the 30 Most Important Years in Dutch History” here:
Boom Chicago 30th Anniversary Book: “Boom Chicago Presents the 30 Most Important Years in Dutch History”
An exciting history of the improv group you’ve never heard of that changed comedy in America—this is the story of Boom Chicago in Amsterdam as told by its founders and most famous alumni
“It’s kind of crazy, the impact on culture so many Boom Chicago alums have had. Boom was where I became my best comedic self: the excitement of Amsterdam, the freedom of that environment, the letting loose—it’s magic. There’s no better training ground.” —Jordan Peele
“Boom Chicago should have ended up on the scrap heap of ‘Terrible Ideas Americans Have While Stoned in Amsterdam.’ But when you stubbornly love one thing (comedy) as much as another thing (Amsterdam), you just believe they should be together. And here we are—thirty years later, Boom Chicago is alive and kicking.” —Seth Meyers
“Working at Boom Chicago was an unbelievable experience. Thank goodness someone was smart enough to write it all down! You’re lucky ’cause you get to read about THE most exciting, fun, and illegal time I’ve ever had!” —Amber Ruffin
Featuring interviews with
Meyers, Peele, Ruffin, Jason Sudeikis, Ike Barinholtz, Greg Shapiro, Kay Cannon, and many more; and a sixteen-page, full-color insert with both behind-the-scenes snapshots and images from live performances.
What do Ted Lasso, Get Out, Late Night with Seth Meyers, 30 Rock, A Black Lady Sketch Show, Breaking Bad, Saturday Night Live, Girls5Eva, The Colbert Report, Inside Amy Schumer, Pitch Perfect, Key & Peele, The Daily Show, MADtv, Rick and Morty, The Amber Ruffin Show, Horrible Bosses, Portlandia, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Suicide Squad, Superstore, How I Met Your Mother, Wicked, The Pee-Wee Herman Show, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and Broad City all have in common? They all feature writers, creators, directors, or stars who got their start at Boom Chicago.
Having risen roughly to the middle of Chicago’s cutthroat comedy scene, Andrew Moskos and Pep Rosenfeld decamped the Midwest for Amsterdam, Netherlands in 1993 to start their own improv comedy troupe, Boom Chicago. In a foreign land with zero tradition of English-language humor, Moskos and Rosenfeld unwittingly created the finishing school for some of today’s most groundbreaking comedic talents. They (along with coauthors Matt Diehl and Saskia Maas) document this journey in the definitive oral history Boom Chicago Presents the 30 Most Important Years in Dutch History.
From its stages, Boom Chicago went on to launch cultural game changers like Seth Meyers, Jordan Peele, Amber Ruffin, Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, Ike Barinholtz, Kay Cannon, and Tami Sagher (and that’s just a partial list). At Boom, these young upstarts honed their craft in front of unsuspecting foreign audiences and visiting dignitaries like Burt Reynolds, Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay, Dutch royalty, and the Netherlands’s prime minister—all while navigating a world with legal weed and prostitution, annual holiday celebrations involving blackface, cookies with weird racist names, and football that has nothing to do with the NFL. From this culture shock, this collective created a more topical, inclusive, tech-savvy humor that would become the dominant comedy style of our time.
Praise for Boom Chicago:
“The Groundlings. The Harvard Lampoon. Second City. These comedy institutions have been supplying Hollywood with a steady stream of talent for decades. Well, there’s another name—almost as influential—that you’ve never heard of: Amsterdam’s Boom Chicago. Huh?”—GQ
“A small theater in Amsterdam became the most influential American comedy factory you’ve never heard of . . . Boom alums have had a significant hand in many of the shows that defined the past two decades of comedy.” —New York