I recently asked a friend who is big on documentaries if they had any viewing suggestions, and I was told I should watch the 2019 Dutch documentary ‘Bart en de steen die terug naar huis ging’ (‘Bart and the stone that went back home’). It’s the story of artist Bart Eysink Smeets who took a dolmen stone from Borger, Drenthe back to its original home on the Åland Islands, a unique part of Finland where Swedish is the main language.
Filmed by Bart’s brother Tom, we get to watch Bart’s process in finding the right stone in Borger, Drenthe, the Dutch city with the most dolmens. The film is a combination of bureaucracy, up and downs, weirdness, and humour. The way to Åland is a fun road trip as well and you might get attached to the stone while you watch.
As I want to keep this spoiler-free, watch it if you can understand enough Dutch and/or with Dutch subtitles. There’s some English, Drents (dialect) and Swedish as well.
Here below you can watch American teens reacting to this video, and you should. One of them said “Whoever is speaking in this is doing a great job” and I agree with her. When I first posted the video, I wasn’t sure it was Shapiro doing it, but after it went viral, he did a tour of the Dutch talk shows and confirmed it.
While the teens express mostly praise, they felt the video took jabs at the US and the word ‘disrespectful’ came up as well, but overall, according to the presenter, the video was liked by people on both sides of the aisles (Democrats and Republicans). One of the teens who plans on joining the military has some poignant remarks to make about Trump and going to war.
The video mentions pony park Slagharen, which recently announced they would be getting rid of their ponies, mainly because “they do not fit in with the park’s future plans”.
This video was published on 31 January, when Trump has only been in office for a few days. And what if they asked the teens now or in a year from now what they think of Trump or about their answers at the time? That would be interesting to watch as well.
Here’s some Dutch humour from Arjen Lubach’s show ‘Zondag met Lubach’, similar to The Daily Show with Trevor Noah in the United States.
The English video below introduces the Netherlands to Donald Trump in a way he should be able to understand: with someone who talks just like him. You’ll notice the Dutch crowd laughing when the narrator pronounces Dutch stuff properly. It also makes fun of the Dutch, which might account for quite a few dislikes on YouTube, but it also takes a good stab at the Dutch government, which is always a crowd-pleaser.
Why come to the Netherlands when you can go to Denmark? Dutch television show ‘Zondag met Lubach’ made a video called ‘Do not come to Holland’ in English with Dutch subtitles. Spoiler alert: no mention of drugs or prostitution.
Firstly, don’t call the country ‘Holland’, especially when a lot of refugees are settling in outside the provinces of North and South Holland. The locals will think you’re trying to co-opt their karma points.
The ‘Dunglish’ voice-over was done by someone who had fun switching from an American over-the-top movie trailer style voice to a fake posh British accent you hear in safety instruction videos on KLM. It’s also weird to hear someone faking a British accent and then using the word ‘soccer’ instead of ‘football’.
The Dunglish translation of ‘there goes nothing above Groningen’ is cringeworthy: try ‘Nothing tops Groningen’ for a proper translation or ‘There’s nothing above Groningen’ to keep the Dutch humour flowing. The video does make up for it with “Come to Denmark: it’s the Netherlands, but somewhere else”, which is the very polite version of the talk down the pub as far as accepting refugees in the country at the moment.
For any kind of social commentary on how the Dutch government has cocked up the welcoming of refugees, read the Dutch papers. Or don’t.
(Image: screenshot of ‘Do not come to Holland’ video)
There is this Facebook poll that proposes a silly dilemma each week for you to choose from. It’s called Dilemma op Dinsdag (Dilemma on Tuesday) and it seems to be a minor hit in that I see their dilemmas shared regularly.
The dilemma shown here: you either must read a Harlequin romance novel each week or change all your user names and e-mail addresses to wienerboy69 for the rest of your life. (The cartoon shows a business card for a government spokesperson called Jasper Jansen).
Some of the dilemmas of past Tuesdays were:
Nobody ever laughs about your jokes or you have to laugh every time somebody cries.
You have 100 almost identical keys on your key chain or you always give the third kiss on the mouth when greeting someone.
You never eat warm meals or everything you read, you read out loud.
Your clothes disappear once a month or you always have the hiccups when you wake up.
Dilemma op Dinsdag is made, it appears, by “some individuals from Utrecht and Amsterdam”, but the cartoons are drawn by Marloes Toonen.
Comics artist Maaike Hartjes is from the generation that said ‘gaaf’ (cool) to express that they liked something very much. She has tried to say ‘vet’ (fat), but it made her feel as if she were a member of the ‘mieters’ (swell) and ‘jottum’ (neat) generation. The new cool, ‘gruwelijk’ (horrible)—now there’s a word she can get behind.
So it’s no surprise that she called her latest comics book Gruwelijk!, and it is full of small observations such as this strip:
I quite like the portrait in my old passport. But now I need a new passport. With a photo taken according to the latest regulations…
Tiny photographer: “DO NOT smile!”
Tiny Maaike: “Waaah! That’s not what I look like, is it?”
Tiny boyfriend: “Er…. nooo! You’re much prettier in real life.”
One advantage: after a twenty hour trip + jetlag:
Tiny customs person: “Horrible picture! It’s good that she looks much better in person.”
A woman from Hoogezand near Groningen recently showed up angry at the doctor’s office with the cremated remains of her dead husband who died seven months ago. She had been receiving reminders from the doctor for her husband to get a flu shot and for a bone density scan.
The ‘missing link’ in this story is that for whatever reason, the doctor’s office did not know or had not yet entered the death of this woman’s husband in their mailing database. The assumption is that this was communicated to them, but not dealt with, although it could be the woman’s fault, I don’t know.
“My husband could only participate in the bone density scan if he had recently shrunk by three centimetres and weighed less than 60 kilos. Since he’s been in an urn for months, he meets the requirements,” said the widow.
This is dry Dutch humour at its best. The nurse who handles the scans apparently didn’t appreciate the humour at all.
Najib Amhali is the country’s funniest ‘stand-up’ comedian, followed by Herman Finkers, according to a poll held by Intomart for Comedy Central. The two comedians switched positions in the Netherlands Humoronderzoek 2009, with Finkers leading last year, writes NOS Headlines (Dutch). Hyperactive comedian Jochem Myjer came in third, and fourth André van Duijn, who is the most famous Dutch comedian with a 98% recognition score.
What I call stand-up here is for lack of a better English word. Although stand-up comedy Anglo-Saxon style is performed in the Netherlands, the most popular theatrical form of comedy and the one performed by Amhali, Finkers and so on is called cabaret or kleinkunst, which typically means one, two or a small group of persons on a large stage telling jokes, complemented with songs and serious moments, all the while sticking to a story line.
The funniest TV show was held to be De Llama’s, which is funny indeed because the show stopped last year.
The Dutch appreciate family friendly jokes the best. Jokes about minorities or jokes that are insulting are held in the least regard. According to the report that Intomart will release in about a week, people also indicated they feel humour to be more important than sex, good food, or economic security. Only health and family are considered to be more important.
The following is Jochem Myjer showing that he’s quite capable of impersonating eight different people in two minutes:
If you were uncertain on whether to put the carrot for the horse in the left or the right shoe, whether to start singing Zie ginds komt de stoomboot or Sinterklaasje Bonne Bonne Bonne first, or whether it is allowed to make veiled references to the thing you had with your best friend’s wife in the poem you wrote for his surprise, fear not, NEN to the rescue! Last year, the Dutch Standards Institute (NEN) published its standards for the celebration of Sinterklaas (PDF, mostly Dutch) so that now we know how all participants should behave during the celebration.
Oh, that poem thing? The rules are defined in a separate document, NTA 0712.