Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Tweets by Greg Shapiro

2012 in Tweets 
by Greg Shapiro

re: ‘Rip Whitney Houston.’ Did you mean ‘RIP = Rest in Peace?’ Rip = what you were doing on her til yesterday.

News: George Lucas to release remastered 'Star Wars' replacing Mark Hamill with Harrison Ford.

Moody’s downgrades 3 Dutch banks. Then upgrades them. Then downgrades them again. F**king moody.

Breaking: Wilders refuses to Budge on Retirement Age, Forces Rutte into Early Retirement. #Catshuis

In Amsterdam it's never okay to judge by color. Unless it's a group of matching bikes - then you can assume they're high & don’t know how to bike.

Tonight, Paul the Octopus predicts he will still be dead. #EK#Holland

Don't forget, 'Filibuster' comes from the Dutch term 'Vrijbuiter' or 'Pirate.' As in ‘ARR! Prepare to be Bored!’ #Filibuster in Dutch Parliament!

Ahmedinejad at UN: ‘When I said I don't recognize the state of Palestine, I was only referring to the maps on my iPhone 5.’

If you wear the US flag as your pants, and I salute your pants, then don't look at me like I'm weird. #USelection2012

In concession speech Romney vows to continue serving his country any way he can. Except by paying his taxes.

If schools allowed you to shoot on sight any students tweeting during class, I think most teachers would say ok to guns.

+ For the record, the #Mayans also predicted the Y2K bug.


Jef Johnson: 'I suggest putting a teacher in every gun store' (for target practice?)

It's hard to take you seriously if you argue to the right to 'bare' arms. #RollUpYourSleeves

In retrospect, Tom Hardy as Bane sounds like a retarded Apu.

More comments from defenders of blackface. Note: when arguing you're not racist, avoid the phrase 'You people.' #ZwartePietOkBlackfaceNee

Der Spiegel on Zwarte Piet. If Germans are lecturing you on tolerance, shouldn't that be a sign?

You did build that. In fact, you built it crooked.

I hope Spielberg has a directors cut where Lincoln tells the red states to stay out.

Breaking News: US General David Petraeus quits, admits affair with Jack de Vries.

America, can we finally reform the Electoral College to make it more like the Eurovision Song Contest?

My sister got an anti-abortion DVD on her Wisconsin doorstep, which is the Spam equivalent of going door to door offering a bigger penis.

If you want Dutch people to speak English to you, hold a door for them & they'll assume you're not Dutch. Works every time.

For a man who doesn't believe in evolution, it’s odd how Romney's policies keep evolving.

#Debate 1 - Obama wins the JobCohen 'How dare you talk to me that way' Award

Hottest gay porn now found in Republican anti-gay ads.

I'm not saying all sailors are gay, but the name of your industry IS 'MerryTime.'

When my 8 year-old points at tiny Dutch 'Invalid' cars & says 'Ha Ha!' like Nelson on The Simpsons, I should correct him. But I can't do it.

If someone would design a toilet seat with Michaelangelo's 'Creation' I'd buy it.

I'm scared of Mitt Romney as President. I don't doubt Obama will win; I'm afraid Obama is becoming Mitt Romney.

Bill Clinton now the Democrat Fact-Checker-in-Chief. Does that make Bush the Republicans' Fact-Checker-in-Chief? That'd explain a lot

Inez Shapiro: 'The fact that 2012 Republicans are so religious makes them... ongeloofwaardig.'

Amazing Anti-Aging formula makes Republican party 50 years younger! Party platform ca. 1962

If faith-based voters have a problem with #Romney, remember: his economic policy 'tax cuts = jobs' is based on nothing but faith.

If you build it, they will come. If you HOST it, they will come and beat you. #wimbledon

Cannot hear exfoliate without thinking of daleks from 'Dr. Who.' 

For once in the supermarket there's no music. Still, I catch myself humming 'Shine Sweet Freedom.' Gag. Switching to Barry White.

Awkward: 'Don't you recognize me? We worked together for 6 years.' No. Awkwarder: my wife 'Are you pregnant?' No.

German couple just cut me off in #airportsecurity line. I said 'Good thing we're not getting on a train!' They didn't get it

Merkel is like Cartman. 'Respect Mah Austerity.' 

Heading to Vondelpark to sell off a lot of old toys.. And if the price is right, the kids too

Due to budget cutbacks, the Dutch ballet 'Giselle' will share stage time with Joop vd Ende, creating the world's 1st 'Gigi-selle.'

If I had a nickel for every piece of Lego I've vacuumed up... Then I'd still be in the red

Audi drivers- did you know? Your car also comes with brakes

There should be an app to make iTunes pay me $.99 whenever 'No Mercy for the King' gets stuck in my head. Work on it.

Like an #EtchaSketch I'm pretty sure Romney is being controlled by a left-right knob, and an up-down knob

If Ikea would provide a service where all items are assembled in a montage set to A-Team music, I'd buy it.

Ladies - though he "don't wanna miss a thing" - waking up to find Steven Tyler watching you is inherently creepy, right?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Dutch Digging Zwarte Hole Deeper

Dutch Digging Zwarte Hole Deeper

In the process of performing our comedy show about Sinterklaas & Zwarte Piet, we’ve been getting lots of comments from Dutch people. What’s funny to me is how many comments make their argument worse.

The following are reactions to my quotes on & (translation by Google Translate / Shapiro) 

Here’s how Dutch people argue ‘We’re not racist:’

- 'It's completely innocent. It's for little kids.'

If that’s true, then little kids should know the difference between blackface & black people. But – as my kid points out – it isn’t so.

After the show, a Dutch woman came up and asked ‘Are you making it up? The part about your daughter pointing to a black person as Zwarte Piet’ No! It happens all the time!

- ‘I was in a cafĂ© yesterday where an African-looking man got laughed at. He took offense at a 4 year-old kid who called him Zwarte Piet. The kid was only 4 years old! The man told the parents they should tell their child the difference. No hat, no feather, no Zwarte Piet. They laughed. Then he said maybe he should go away to buy some gifts to give out. If you ask me, this man was asking for it.’

It makes me wonder what would Dutch people say if they’d move to another country with a lovable character called ‘Buck-tooth Dutchie’ where everyone dressed up as Anky van Grunsven. 
'Buck-tooth Dutchie' the beloved horse-faced character

‘But we love all you bony, buck-toothed square-faced Dutch people,’ they’d say. ‘And you don’t have the right to be offended.’ 

Here are some more Dutch people arguing that they are not racist.

- ‘Every year, you people feel discriminated because of a little black makeup? Show a little character.’
- 'These complainers are just hyper-correct white people or aggrieved descendants of slavery who look for a reason to complain. They're just the latest batch of moochers who would rather complain about nothing than do something with their lives.'
- ‘Non-white people who complain should start their own tradition of dressing up in sandals & long hair because they’re all doing one big hippie imitation.’

And then of course, there’s the personal:
- ‘Even more pathetic than this whole debate is Greg Shapiro himself. I’ve never heard him say anything funny. He would be wise to first address his utter lack of humor before lecturing his pedantic American finger at the rest of the world.’
- ‘Shapiro, it’s simple. Follow or traditions or get out.’
- ‘To be honest, you sound like a plum and you married a twat of a dutch woman. merry christmas numb nuts.’

But – like opening Pandora’s box – there’s always Hope. Some Dutchies do have a sense of humor.

- ‘We’ll eliminate Sinterklaas, when you give up fat Santa.'
- ‘How can Americans lecture us about Sinterklaas with their over-commercial Santa Claus? It’s like the Vatican lecturing us about child abuse.’
- ‘I admit it! I celebrate Sinterklaas with negerzoenen & joden koeken & blanke vla!’

And perhaps my favorite”

- 'People - it's a comedy show.'

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Reboot Sinterklaas

Reboot Sinterklaas 
Greg Shapiro, 16 nov 2012
(as seen in 

It's time again for the Annual Dutch Racist Parade! Every year, the kids line the streets for Sinterklaas and his entourage of black-faced minions. 

'It's not racist...' insist the parents. 'It's our heritage.'

Well, okay then. Why not dress up like this as well? 

'Just celebrating our Dutch heritage...' 

As the annual debate about Sinterklaas begins anew, this American Netherlander says: Why not a Sinterklaas Reboot? Specifically, why not take Zwarte Piet & give him a Michael Jackson makeover?

The reboot trend is everywhere.
Batman had a reboot. Spiderman had a reboot, just 10 years since his last reboot. Even Sinterklaas was reinvented by Dutch director Dick Maas. If you didn't see 'Sint' from 2010, it's the one where Sinterklaas is portrayed as a child-murdering psychopath.

So why not reboot Zwarte Piet? 'Oh, no!' cry the Dutch. 'You can't touch our beloved Zwarte Piet! He must be covered in blackface, or the children won't believe!' Dick Maas himself says it's okay for Sint to kill kids. Why not make  Zwarte Piet a shade lighter?

I've had this argument with both Dutch people and black people. Quinsy Gario is the founder of 'Zwarte Piet is Racisme.' He insists that the title is not a matter of opinion; it's a simple fact. I agree with him. But I don't agree with his remedy: Dutch people should admit that they've been racist & stop Zwarte Piet immediately. That ain't gonna happen.

There's a great precedent that everyone is ignoring. Neger Zoenen. These chocolate covered marshmallow cookies were called 'Neger Kisses' for years (or even 'Negerinne Tieten).
(Use your imagination).
But around 2005, someone had the good sense to ask 'why not drop the Neger?' Now they're simply called 'Zoenen.' Are Dutch families forever damaged? No. And they get to congratulate themselves for their famous Dutch common sense.

My recommendation: drop the Zwarte. Just make him Piet. Then the next year drop the Afro. The next year, the blackface becomes soot - which is how Mr. Piet is meant to have come by the blackface in the first place.

By then, - if anyone still complains that you've ruined their lives- THEN you can call them racist.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy in Amsterdam

When Hurricane Sandy Meets The Lowlands
(as written for
3 Nov. 2012

After watching the devastation of Hurricane Sandy on America’s biggest city, I have to wonder ‘What happens when that storm hits the Netherlands?’ Will climate change force a Category 5 hurricane onto the low lands? What would that feel like?

The good news is – to imagine a hurricane’s aftermath – all you have to do is look at any major Dutch city. They all look like they’ve been hit by a hurricane already. It’s called Hurricane Bad Government.

If you want to feel like your city is recovering from massive infrastructure damage, just visit any Dutch train station: Amsterdam, Utrecht, and Rotterdam are all undergoing massive reconstruction at the same time. And Den Haag Central Station feels like it’s been hit by a hurricane, an earthquake and Godzilla thrown in.

When the Americans refer to Europe as ‘socialism at its worst,’ I sometimes think they have a point. There seems to be an enormous, government-sponsored make-work program for every street in the country. I call them ‘The Brick Flippers.’ More than once, I have seen a street ripped up, put back together, and then ripped up again a few months later. Why? ‘We have to be fair to both sides of the brick.’ 

Amsterdam in particular has been hard hit by Hurricane Bad Government. For 10 years now the hurricane has taken out everything from Central Station to the Rijksmuseum in a pattern we call The North-South Line. Amsterdam is literally taking all its money and throwing it into a gigantic hole in the ground. The Netherlands: a nice country, if they ever finish it.

If you’re like me, you’re constantly aware of the fact that we’re living under sea level. And you can’t help but wonder what would happen if we get hit by ‘The Big One.’ Luckily, it seems we’ve been having practice for years.  

Friday, October 26, 2012

Who likes Romney? Dutchies (sometimes)

Who likes Romney? Dutchies (sometimes)
26 okt. 2012

Republicans in Nederland.

According to most Dutch people I talk to, is it an utter mystery that anyone would consider voting for Mitt Romney. We ask it onstage every night: Who’s excited about Barack Obama? And the crowd goes wild. But that’s Boom Chicago: a left-leaning theater in a lefty city in a ‘socialist’ continent. And every night we point that out. We analyze who exactly is so excited for Obama 2012. It’s mostly Dutch people. And expats. And backpacking college students. It’s everyone except the people who actually vote in US elections.

We also ask ‘Who’s excited about Mitt Romney?’ The answer is mostly silence. But occasionally we get some Dutch people. Yes, Dutch Romney supporters do exist. Just last night, we got an enthusiastic cheer from Arjan, who was in attendance with his auto-leasing company. He was quite surprised that none of his colleagues joined him in cheering. His favorite thing about Romney is that ‘Obama always needs a teleprompter.’ This proves that – surprisingly – some Dutch people are also watching FoxNews.

Every time we get someone who does support Romney, we ask ‘…And where in Israel are you from?’ Of course, it’s just a joke. But it was extra funny when one Romney supporter said ‘How did you know my family is from Israel?’ Jokingly, we said ‘Because we can tell you think Obama is a Muslim.’

And – if you want to see more Dutch Romney-supporters – just turn on your tv. Dutch talk shows are still full of right-wing white guys like Leon de Winter, Kay van de Linde and Charles Groenhuisen. But the best was my encounter with the head of Republicans Abroad, who is married to a Dutch woman. She’s from Wassenaar with the hairstyle to match. She supports Romney because ‘Someone should tell all these bums to get a job.’ I asked her what she did for work, and she scoffed ‘I don’t have to work.’

'October Surprise: Obama Looks Awake!'

'October Surprise: Obama Looks Awake!'

26 okt 2012
(blog piece for  

‘The October Surprise’ is an American election tradition. 4 years ago it was the Wall Street Crisis. What will be the Game Changer in 2012? The answer is: it already happened. Obama’s first debate performance was so disastrous that Michelle is still not having sex with him.

The good news is Michelle Obama may be more popular right now than Barack, giving the President a bounce in the polls. Michelle is the Bounce Queen. Even though – with those biceps – she looks kind of like a drag queen.

Obama was so bad in the 1st debate that it doesn’t matter he won the 2nd & 3rd debate. It doesn’t matter that Romney puked all over himself in the second debate (see: Libya). It doesn’t matter that Romney in the 3rd debate was as bad as Obama in the 1st debate (since Monday Night Football was on, no one was watching). And it doesn’t matter that Romney keeps flip-flopping like a frog on fire. For a man who doesn’t believe in evolution – his campaign evolves every week.

Still, Romney has the momentum. The good news for Obama is: he never performs better than when he’s losing. After months of delay, the President has finally released his ‘Plan for Jobs.’ 

Mr. President, this homework was due 3.5 years ago. At least now we know: if you vote for Obama in November, we can expect to have jobs sometime in 2015.

Shapiro is vooral bekend voor zijn rol als nieuwslezer in Comedy Central News, een satirisch nieuwsprogramma. Verder gaf hij commentaar op BNR. Hij is nu bezig met zijn wekelijkse programma ‘United States of Shapiro’ op VARA HumorTV. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

‘My Big Fat American Election’

‘My Big Fat American Election’
October, 2012 Boom Chicago Amsterdam.

10 years ago, I started performing standup shows in Amsterdam with Pep Rosenfeld. As Rosenfeld & Shapiro, we’ve performed ‘Yankee Go Home,’ the 2004 election show ‘Mr. America Contest’ and in 2008 the election show ‘Bye Bye Bush.’

Now it’s time for ‘My Big Fat American Election.’ Never before has there been this much money in US politics. Never before has the media coverage been so much like a vapid American reality show. This year, we team up again with Michael Orton-Toliver and his Barack Obama imitation (to rival mine).

As Republicans, it’s not easy. Up against the first-ever black President, Republicans want to be seen as a party for more than just rich, white men. SO – they nominated the richest, whitest man imaginable. Mitt Romney. Much as I’d like to play Obama this year, I must admit I look more like Romney. He’s so white he makes Obama look black.

Does Barack Obama deserve another term in the White House? No! But he’ll get it anyway. Obama is like the boyfriend who means well, but just doesn’t listen. For your birthday, you tell him you want flowers & chocolate. And he’ll show up with Thai food & a Norah Jones CD. It’s very nice. It’s just not what you asked for.

America says: ‘I want a JOB.’
Obama: ‘I got you health care…’  
America: ‘What about a job?’
Obama: ‘I got you a Chevy Volt…’
America: ‘I just want a job.’
Obama: ‘I got you gays in the military, gay marriage, and a gay, pot-smoking Latino who won’t be deported because he has solar panels.’
America: (sigh) Never mind.

Don’t give up, America! Like most girlfriends tell themselves at one point: I can change him!

I hope he can change.

‘My Big Fat American Election’ runs throughout October, through election day November 6.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

“Dutch Elections 2012: My Dinner with SP, PvdA & GroenLinks”

“Dutch Elections 2012: My Dinner with SP, PvdA & GroenLinks”

Another fallen Cabinet. Another national election. Time to resurrect “Political PARTY with Maurice de Hond” at Boom Chicago! The only show where Dutch politicians improvise with us onstage.  

Who was the best politician onstage?
This year’s guests:
Socialist Party SP – Ronald van Raak (#3).
Labor PvdA – Martijn van Dam (#7).
Green GroenLinks – Tofik Dibi (#10).
(In 2010 we had Femke Halsema, Maxime Verhagen, and even Hero Brinkman.)

Every politician improvises by dressing up as another politician and answering questions.

Ronald van Raak played Mark Rutte. According to the SP, Dutch Prime Minister Rutte does not always tell the truth. He came out and said ‘Tonight, I’m trying something new. I’m not going to lie.’ Cue the Pinocchio video. Nice laughs.

Martijn van Dam played Mark Rutte as well. But he did it better. We covered the lying. But Martijn took it a step further. He played up the fact that Rutte & the VVD party are running a very negative campaign.
Don’t forget: the politician is not the only one in costume. While Martijn van Dam was dressed as Mark Rutte, I was dressed up as Martijn van Dam.
Here it gets interesting: Martijn van Dam got so into character as Mark Rutte that he started attacking his own party.  The attacks got more & more outrageous. Then he turned to me and said ‘Now Martijn, what do you have to say to THAT?’

He totally turned the tables on me. I just had to laugh. Well done.

Tofik Dibi played Big, Bad Minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten. Let’s just say he looks better as Geert Wilders (on the cover of Vrij Nederland).

Tofik Dibi gave a great interview. He acknowledged that there was no way he’d be reelected to Parliament, so he had nothing to lose. He admitted that it was a big mistake to challenge Jolanda Sap for the party leadership. He talked about texting with Geert Wilders – it’s easier than you think to get a response, since Wilders is so lonely. And he predicted that GroenLinks probably wouldn’t survive much longer, and they should merge with D66.

This is the American equivalent of saying “Don’t vote for me! My whole party is a joke! The Democrats should just merge with the Republicans.” Sacrilicious.

On the whole, the winner was PvdA Martijn van Dam. Congratulations! You got my vote.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Played North Sea Jazz Fest 2012

North Sea JazzFest 2012
7 July, 2012

The North Sea Jazz Festival! Every year I want to go. Every year I don't go. I've always wanted to be there; I never imagined it would be as a performer. Wonderful.

I was Host / MC for the 'GumboNight' special: New Orleans jazz, blues & soul. After hosting for Caro Emerald in Heineken Music Hall, it seems I have a recurring role. The initiator of the Gumbo Night concept is Dutchman Toon Oomen. He was approached by NorthSeaJazz to organize a GumboCircus – hence my added role.

Vaguely ridiculous? Perfect.
I was asked to host the show, but also to be part of the band. I went to see a Gumbo Night in March, and it was great. Last week, I filled in as host during a last-minute set at the Canvas Club. I got a feel for it.  I even got to sing a song: ‘Free, Single & Disengaged,’ an oldie by Huey Smith. But - would I be ready for the big time?

At the Ahoy in Rotterdam, our stage was a tent outside a tent, outside the building. They converted part of the parking lot to make room for a blues tent, a food court and a dining area. Our tent was aimed at the dining area. Let’s just say the expectations were low.

3 Sets
We started the first set with a Street Parade, New Orleans-style. It’s the Gumbo Night signature piece. There we were, weaving in & out of the crowd and drawing a crowd as well.  

Members of the marvelous Seun Kuti band watching Gumbo

The band has 2 drummers, 4 horns, piano, guitar, and – most impressive – the bass is provided by tuba (sousaphone). The singers are Blues singer Boyd Small & Kris Berry (with her lovely Billie Holliday tone). We hit the stage with ‘Cabbage Alley’ by The Meters, and I was loving it. For the gig, Boyd provided Mardi Gras-style plastic bead necklaces in gold, green & purple. In New Orleans, girls are known to ‘go wild’ for them (ie pull up their shirts). In Rotterdam, that was not the case. But I did demand that females in the crowd had to do a special dance to merit a bead necklace, and it worked quite well.

If you look closely, the shirt says 'More Cowbell.'
For the second set, I got to sing my song. And I made up half the lyrics on the spot, based on people in the crowd. I then jumped down to dance with people in the crowd. And - for the next song, ‘Barefootin’ - I danced barefoot. During the blues song ‘Katrina,’ it started raining like crazy. Perfect. After the Blues, we picked up the tempo again, but people weren’t dancing. So I jumped down again & brought my cowbell. Sure enough, I came across a guy with a ‘More Cowbell’ t-shirt. I said ‘You’re coming with me,’ I put the cowbell in his hand and put him in front of the stage. 
To end the second set, we marched out into the rain for the second street parade. And the tuba-player – a wooly mammoth named Arno Bakker – was so pumped up he climbed up a tent support – with his horn - and kept on playing. Many photos were taken.

Third set. The surprise act. Gumbo Night was asked to set up 1 last time by the exit, as a going-away gift. It was 1 in the morning, and the massive crowd was streaming out the main doors. We marched over next to the escalators and set up shop. This was when the real magic started.

The Magic Hour
No matter what type of music people had come to see… the New Orleans street jazz band seemed like the perfect closer for a lot of people. Right away a crowd formed, and they were giving a lot of love. When one of the horns stepped forward to solo, they cheeeered. Behind us were people coming down the escalators, but many of them started dancing as well, becoming part of the show. There were 2 black grand dames who opened up their umbrellas and started marching to the beat. And – out of nowhere – the sometime guest of Gumbo Night showed up to do some of his patented dance moves, spins, and shuffles. The crowd went wild.
AhoyRotterdam, Main Exit 01.30
 Especially that 3rd set had the magical energy of the real Mardi Gras, after midnight. I’ve only been to Mardi Gras once, in 1993. And I remember that – once it turns midnight – it’s no longer party time; it’s officially Lent. BUT we were not nearly done partying (the LSD hadn’t worn off).  We got kicked out of the Bourbon Street area, but we shuffled on over to the working class neighborhoods to the east. And that’s when things really busted loose. We were in the street, dancing and banging on whatever we could get our hands on. That’s the energy we captured at NorthSeaJazzFest 2012.

Would I do it again? Definitely. Most bands are content with ten people. But (to quote ‘Spinal Tap’) when I’m in the band, we go up to 11.

Introducing - a new blog by The American Netherlander Greg Shapiro.
Featuring - exerpts from the book 'WELCOME TO HOLLAND, NOW GET OUT: How to feel at home in a country that wants you to leave.'

"TAP Comebag"
Even the messages on envelopes in the Netherlands can be offensive.