Netherlands Second Tag

240 YEARS DOWN THE DRAIN – from George Washington to Donald Trump at Boom Chicago

240 YEARS DOWN THE DRAIN – from George Washington to Donald Trump
13 June, 2022

Comedians Pep Rosenfeld and Greg Shapiro present their 12th duo show, premiering at the Boom Chicago Comedy Festival July 7-17. Come raise a glass to the end of American democracy!

After their critically acclaimed shows ‘Trump Up the Volume’ and ‘Lock Him Up,’ Rosenfeld & Shapiro team up for a new political comedy show: ’240 YEARS DOWN THE DRAIN – from George Washington to Donald Trump.’ Because George Washington was the first president of the United States, and – come 2024 – Donald Trump might be the last.

Trump will be like: “I wanted a DO-OVER for the 2020 election. Now that I’ve won the do-over, NO MORE DO-OVERS! President for LIFE.” George Washington is known for saying “I cannot tell a lie.” Trump is known for saying “I cannot tell a lie… from the truth.”

Perhaps the best thing George Washington did for American democracy is to willingly depart after two terms as president. It’s hard to imagine Donald Trump doing that. It’s also hard to imagine Joe Biden departing after two terms – only because there’s no way he’ll live that long. 

Rosenfeld & Shapiro will use their traditional mix of standup and improv to celebrate American dysfunction. You will see a debate between Washington and Trump. You will see Inner-City Americans realize they’re not that different from rural MAGA Americans. And you will see the QAnon Proud Boys unveil their latest conspiracy theory.

Click here to see the full line-up for the BOOM CHICAGO COMEDY FESTIVAL. And our show on 11 July.
https://boomchicago.nl/boom-chicago-comedy-festival/ 

‘240 YEARS DOWN THE DRAIN – from George Washington to Donald Trump’ can be seen at the Boom Chicago Comedy Festival on 11 July at 19:30. Yes, it’s a Monday, but that won’t matter since you’re probably already gone on vacation.

…and if you can’t make it on 11 July, don’t worry! We’ve got a feeling 240 YEARS DOWN THE DRAIN will be back on a recurring basis starting this fall.

 

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:

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:

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 Mini Standup Special ‘LEAVING TRUMPLAND’ 

Greg Shapiro Mini Standup Special ‘LEAVING TRUMPLAND’
4 January, 2022

I wrote a comedy show about America during Trump and during Covid. It’s called LEAVING TRUMPLAND. And it’s partly about how Trump and Covidiots killed my stepfather.

Most of my performance dates were cancelled due to Covid. But thankfully, a Dutch performance series asked me to perform part of my show for them, at the ITA International Theater Amsterdam. And here it is:
GREG SHAPIRO’S LEAVING TRUMPLAND on ‘Cultuurexplosie Live.’ (link below)

My previous show was called The Madness of King Donald. This show is more personal. Ever since I moved to the Netherlands, my family and friends keep asking “When are you moving back? When are you coming home?” And now, since 2020, they’re asking “What is it like in the Netherlands? Maybe we could come live with you?” And I tell them “Nee! Vol is vol!

And yes, I wrote new bits about President Biden. Did you hear what he said today? No. No one did. No one cares! And it’s wonderful!
We don’t have the mental space to pay attention to Joe Biden. We’re still recovering from 4 years of Post-Traumatic Tweet Disorder.  America is like a toilet clogged with 4 years of toxic dumps. Biden is the plumber. And as happy as we are that Joe the Plumber is on the job, I hope he knows it’s not like we’re not going to WATCH, right? Just let us know when you’re done. 

We can’t pay attention to the current president, because some of us are still mourning. As for me, I found out in the summer of 2020 that my stepdad had Covid. In a nursing home at age 75. And the nursing home was in Trump country, aka ‘Trumpland.’ And my stepdad had a roommate. And the roommate was like many Republicans in the US: they believe in Freedom more than Science. In fact they believe in “Freedom FROM Science.”

And for the rest of the story, you’ll have to watch:

Greg Shapiro Volunteers for Autistic Kids Project, Gets Killed

Greg Shapiro Volunteers for Autistic Kids Project, Gets Killed.
Autistic Students Take Dutch Directness to the Next Level.

30 November, 2021

This past October, I volunteered for a school project. The school was set up by the mother of an autistic child. (aka ‘a child on the autistic spectrum.’) And the school is called SBTK: Stichting Brilliant Future Kids. Since the mother is an old friend of my wife, she asked if I could help teach an improv workshop for her students. I said “Yes, AND.”

Yes, I’d taught improv classes before. Yes, I’d taught high school students before. But no, I’d never taught kids with autism. What I had done is hosting an event for adults with autism, and the interviews were great. I remember they were brutally honest, which was hugely entertaining.

At Stichting Brilliant Future Kids, they wanted an improv workshop – but also they wanted me to make a quick appearance in a video they were shooting. In fact, as soon as I arrived, that’s all they could talk about. The students were all mid-teens, male and female (and perhaps non-binary), and ‘the spectrum’ was well-represented. Practically, there were only a couple students who wouldn’t make any eye contact at all.

It turns out they were pretty big fans of the ‘Netherlands Second’ video. And they asked me what was my life was like now that Trump was out of the White House. I gave them my standard answer, which is: “I’ve got other projects, so it’s not the end of the world. Whereas, if he had stayed – it might literally be the end of the world.”

So then they showed me the script. They said it was inspired by me. How flattering!
…It’s about a washed up Trump joke comedian, who dies onstage and then dies in real life. Wowzers, no one does Dutch honesty quite like students on the autistic spectrum. I died laughing.

My scene partner was a demonic doll baby purchased from a Halloween store.

 

 

The baby would play the bartender, who serves me a poison drink. Then there’s somehow a motorcycle ride.

And then we crash and die. The end.


It turns out I never got to do the improv workshop with the lesson plan I has prepared. But we did end up improvising enough in their video studio. And the one student, who didn’t want to make eye contact, he finally looked up and said, “When you are dying in front of the crowd, can you really show how painful it is?” Yes, and. I did. Afterward, the teacher said that was one of the few things he said at full volume all day. Glad I could help!

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.”