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International comedy for Dutch people. Boom Chicago recommends the best TV shows, comedians and video you should be watching. Special attention is given to live English language shows in Amsterdam, both in our theater and out. It’s a funny world!
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You know, I’ve heard a lot about Mitt Romney in the last few months. He’s out of touch, he’s dismisses the 47 percent, he ties dogs to cars. But there’s one thing about Mitt that no one is talking about: Mitt Romney’s religion and his underwear.

If elected, Romney, he will be the first Mormon President of the United States. Just like Kennedy was the first Catholic and Obama, as many Republicans have suggested, was the first Muslim.

Of course, Mitt Romney’s faith is of little consequence to the Dutch. The Netherlands, on the whole, is not a religious country. Want proof? If you’re Dutch and reading this article, answer me this: When was the last time you regularly went to Church?

Exactly…If the average Dutch person is ever in a church, it’s probably Paradiso.

Americans are different.  And, in America, Romney’s faith is a big deal. Especially since Romney is a Mormon Bishop. He baptized people. He hired clergy. He was a big deal.  I mean, Bush was Christian, but he wasn’t a priest.  Kennedy was Catholic, but he wasn’t head child molester.

Now, a lot of people have some misconceptions about Mormonism, but I know better. I grew up in a town that was loaded with Mormons. My first high-school crush was a Mormon. My best friend was a Mormon. The dude who talked to me until four in the morning about how I am going to hell was a Mormon.  

So let me just clear any misconceptions right now…These guys are weird

Here’s the thing: Mormonism is a Christian faith- Jesus is still at the center- but they adapted it to be American.   It’s got American family values, prosperity thinking, it’s really, really optimistic. Their “Jerusalem” is in Salt Lake City Utah. Their Garden of Eden is a city called Jackson, in Missouri. I mean, I don’t believe in the Garden of Eden at all, but if it did exist, I’m sure it wasn’t a shitty town called Jackson.

You know what Mormonism is?  It’s as if Hollywood makes blockbuster movies; you use a popular book, you set it in America, and you make it more exciting…. That’s what Mormonism is. It’s like they had a Hollywood producer make a religion- “Alright, fellas. America needs a new religion. We’re gonna base it on that best seller, the Bible. We keep the hero, Jesus, lose the Romans, the Jews, and his girlfriend, the whore, give him three to five wives.  Bam! Mormonism!

Which brings us to the Magic Mormon Underwear. That’s right, Mormons wear special silky long johns under all of their clothes.  ALL MORMONS wear these - Including Mitt Romney.

And, here’s the thing: They can never they can never take the underwear off. Mormon’s believe God will come back to earth and take good people to Heaven and bad people to hell. And he’ll know who the Good-Mormon’s are because they’ll be wearing their underwear. They’re like a name tag; a sweaty, dirty name tag that you wear over your privates.

Imagine what this really means, people. On Judgement Day — probably God’s busiest day — the first thing He does is make you pull down your pants? That doesn’t sound like the father of Jesus, it sounds like his creepy uncle.

I remember when I used to get nervous when I talked in front of crowds. My speech coach told me “Just picture the audience in their underwear.” I think Obama’s camp used the same advice before the second and third debates. They said “Hey Obama, If you get nervous in the debates, just imagine Mitt in his underwear; his magic, Mormon underwear.” I think it worked.

Michael Orton-Toliver

This is the English version of Greg’s piece in de Telegraaf, October 30, 2012 

My colleague Pep Rosenfeld will hate me for saying this.

Barack Obama is losing this campaign. As a candidate, Obama was doing pretty well. But his performance at the first debate was a disaster.

He started out apologizing to his wife for working during their 20-year anniversary, and he never recovered. As an indication of his popularity since the first debate, Michelle is still not having sex with him.

The good news for Obama is that Michelle 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 in the 2nd debate Romney puked all over himself (see: Libya). It doesn’t matter that in the 3rd debate Romney was as bad as Obama in the 1st debate. And it doesn’t matter that Romney keeps flip-flopping like a frog on fire.

Somehow Mitt Romney managed to dodge the infamous ‘47%’ quote. Romney shook up his Etch-a-Sketch, and now he’s a bipartisan moderate. Mitt

Romney: for a man who doesn’t believe in evolution, his campaign evolves into something different every week. And – hurricane or not – Romney has the momentum.

The good news for Obama is: Obama 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.

Greg Shapiro is famous for his work at Boom Chicago, Comedy Central adn BNR newsradio. His weekly video series United States of Shapiro can be seen onVARA’s HumorTV.

This is the English version of Pep’s Telegraaf blog from October 25, 2012

Finally, two weeks away from D-Day, we finally saw the candidates for who they are at their final debate.

Obama.

He’s the president. Cool, calm, clear. Presidential. And how many times did Obama mention things he learned “as commander in chief?” Answer: several. He used that authority to call Romney’s ideas “reckless and wrong.” He might as well have said, “Look, I meet with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. You, what, helped out at the Olympics”?

He avoids tough questions about, say, whether he wanted troops to remain in Iraq but the Iraqi government refused. He just calls Romney a liar and moves on.

Romney.

Romney just had to look presidential. And he did, in the way that any tall, good looking, white man will look presidential. But boy, all his flaws were on display in that debate. His facial expression reverted back to the guy that fired you, but now it’s even creepier. It’s the guy who fired you AND slept with your wife.

He also got sweaty. Real sweaty. Flop sweaty. Nixon debating Kennedy flop sweat sweaty. And Nixon was sick during his ill-fated 1960 debate. Romney’s excuse?  My theory: he was overdressed for Florida. Of course he’s overdressed for anywhere, because he has to wear that magic Mormon underwear wherever he goes. Forgot about the weird Mormon underwear, didn’t you? I didn’t. I learned about it while making My Big Fat American Election, and I won’t soon forget it.

Romney also agreed with Obama a lot. “This guy’s policies are terrible, and I will do two thirds of the same stuff” isn’t a great campaign slogan.

The worst Romney-ism on display was his tendency to be — how shalI I put this — a whiny bitch. Romney: stop complaining to the debate moderator. When you do that you look like — how shall I put this — a whiny bitch. Especially when you’re wrong. So stop whining. Bitch. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Or at least take off the underwear.

Pep Rosenfeld is een van de oprichters en eigenaren van Boom Chicago aan het Leidseplein in Amsterdam and host of shows like TEDx and Picnic. Tot 6 november, is hij te zien in “My Big Fat American Election.”

This is the English version of Greg’s Telegraaf blog from October 23, 2012

According to journalists, it is impossible to predict the winner before the debate. Luckily, I’m not  a journalist. I’m a comedian. According to comedians, the answer is obvious: the big winner will be Bullshit. It’s not just any Bullshit. It’s that specific brand of American Bullshit that we Americans crave. I predict you will hear the phrase “Greatest country in the world” at least 10 times. We Americans need to believe “we’re Number 1” and we’ll vote for the man who can sell it the best.

The big topic will be Iran. Is America holding one-on-one talks with Iran or not?

- President Obama’s answer will be obvious: ‘It’s too soon to say.’ Just like Libya, President Obama will wait 2 weeks to make a decision, and by then his mind will be made up for him.

- Mitt Romney is much different: he will make a strong & bold decision right away. Then he’ll reverse it 1 week later.

- The winner: Bullshit.

Who is America’s Biggest National Security Threat?

- According to Barack Obama: Al Qaeda. Why? ‘We killed Osama.’ This is Obama’s answer to every question on foreign policy - and some domestic policies as well. America loves a winner. And a killer.

- According to Mitt Romney, our biggest threat is: Russia. No, wait: China. No, wait: Iran. Who is Mitt Romney’s Biggest Threat? Mitt Romney.

- The winner: Bullshit.

Here’s what you won’t hear:

- America is Number 1 in military spending. Our defense budget is 6 times larger than the nearest competitor, and most of our “competitors” are allies.

- America is Number 1 in gun deaths. If you have a gun in your home, chances are it will be used on a member of your own family.

- America is Number 1 in locking up its own citizens. We vilify Russia, China & Iran for locking up people for no reason. But in America, the prison system is a major industry.

It’s possible that Obama or Romney will bring up one of these topics - but only because We’re Number One! It’s possible that the candidates will be honest with the American people. But that’s unlikely. Americans don’t want a liar in the White House. But we do want a Bullshitter.

Greg Shapiro

This is the English version of Pep Rosenfeld’s blog for the Telegraaf from October 22, 2012.

Bain Capital for Dummies

As election day approaches, Romney is polling ahead of Obama on a key issue: who is most trusted to create jobs.

Romneys alleged expertise is job creation from running Bain Capital, the venture capital company he founded in 1984 with a guy who looks like a young Mr Burns from the Simpsons.

Now if you’re like most of our Boom Chicago audiences, you don’t quite understand how venture capital works, so you figure, “His experience must be good for the economy. Right? He’s a businessman!” Wrong: ask the American economy how it did under two previous businessman presidents, George Bush and Herbert Hoover.

But I’ve looked into how Bain works, including a great article in Rolling Stone, and learned what these guys do is complicated but creepy. And as we do in our show, My Big Fat American Election, I can explain it in three easy steps.

Step 1: Find a desperate, vulnerable company.

What does that mean? Think of a nightclub. You know how at the end of the night there’s that one dude who’s desperate to hook up? He looks for a sure thing, a lady whos still getting over a bad breakup, whos already had a couple of drinks, and whos got on that red lipstick that says, “Daddy doesn’t love me.”

The kind of guy that hits on that lady is Bain Capital (or maybe Bill Clinton).

Step 2: Buy the company with borrowed money and transfer that debt to the desperate company.

Back at the club, its as if that dude walks up to bad breakup lady and says, “Hey baby, I’ll pick you up at eight. All you have do is take out a loan and buy me a car.”

Step 3: Get what you can and leave.

For the dude at the club, the girl doesnt matter; he just wants to get laid. Its the same for Bain. The company doesn’t matter; Bain just wants to get paid.

If the company is restructured and saved, great. Bain gets paid.

But if a helped company goes bankrupt, as many do, Bain still gets paid millions in management fees. And when Bain feels a company is going to crash, they get out.

Mitt Romney might say you can’t blame Bain for a company going bankrupt months after Bain’s gone. But that would be like the dude at the club saying, “The girl I hooked up with had a baby? It can’t be mine — I haven’t seen her in nine months!”

Pep Rosenfeld is one of the founders and owners of Boom Chicago. He writes, directs and performs political and non-political comedy, and hosts events like TEDx and PICNIC.  Until 6 November, he can be seen in Boom Chicagos My Big Fat American Election.

OK, so not every minute of Louie Season three is perfect. But what kind of a standard is that?  Is my life so busy that I can’t begrudge him a few scenes that are only pretty good? There is still very much excellent in the new season, some big laughs and some crazy characters in situations that are simultaneously real and surreal.

And if maybe there will be a slight backlash now, it is only because his star is shining so bright. No one can walk on water, but he still comes pretty close and his shoes are barely wet.

Who else thumbed Ticketmaster’s eye by selling his own tickets and playing independent venues?  Who proved that you can produce your own comedy specials giving other comedians the confidence to try as well?  Who accepts less money than he deserves to maintain total artistic control? And who seems so genuine and down to earth while climbing so high?

I still look forward to my 22 minutes with Louie CK each week a lot. Bring on the rest of Season Three!

I spent a solid two months preaching the gospel of Wilfred to anyone that would listen, to many different results. Late night after the bars closed or even just when a friend popped over for a few minutes, I would pop on the first episode and watch with rapped attention to the reactions of different people. Regardless of whether or not they appreciated its brilliance, everyone agreed that Wilfred is one of the strangest shows in recent memory.

                Based on an Australian show of the same name and with the same lead actor, Wilfred is a strange and sordid series of events surrounding Ryan (Elijah Wood), a twenty-something ex-lawyer who struggles with the pressures of an overbearing father and the general weight and disappointment of the world. The first image we see in the series is Ryan printing out a document titled “Suicide letter, third revision” which says a lot about Ryan and his general state of being. After his botched suicide attempt in which he tries to overdose on prescription pills, Ryan meets the pretty girl next door’s dog, Wilfred. To his horror, Ryan and Ryan alone sees Wilfred to be a walking, talking, drinking, smoking, swearing, cynical man dressed up in a dog suit. Ryan tries to blame this on the pills he took but we soon find out to Ryan’s serious disappointment that they were just sugar pills. The only side effects, pointed out by Ryan’s sister, are adult onset diabetes, tooth decay and a possible sugar rush.

                This gives just the tiniest glimpse into the world of Wilfred. The show tap-dances back and forth over lines of hilarity, philosophy, and more often than not decency. The crudeness of Wilfred might be for shock-value, but it in no way takes away from depth of dealing with the existential questions that gnaw at many a mid-twenties’ minds; and Jason Gann’s razor edged portrayal of Wilfred is phenomenal. In the Australian version, things felt a bit awkward and unintentional. In the production, the acting, the story, the idea was there but it needed tightening up. David Zuckerman of Family Guy fame adapted it for the US market and really changed only what was necessary. Unlike The Office or Dr. Who, the U.S. version of Wilfred is actually better in my opinion, maintaining the weirdness and edge, and only upping the level of philosophical thought (which explains the relatively dismal ratings in the U.S.) and production value.

                I don’t mean to say and would hate to give the misrepresentation that Wilfred is purely intellectual, it is most definitely based in debauchery and relatively simple sight and doggy-style sex gags, but the idea that lofty thought and dirty jokes are not mutually exclusive is refreshing and speaks to the idea that adults don’t have to pretend to be above such things nowadays. With the Nintendo and Simpsons generation well into adulthood, we see more and more parts of the entertainment business that were once exclusively for children or a small, niche, nerd adult market, are now able to reach a much larger audience.

                Wilfred is honestly one of my top five shows ever in terms of all around appeal, and is tied with Louie (which also just premiered a new season) for currently running shows, so needless to say it comes very highly recommended. Go back and watch the first season of Wilfred, and get caught up on the 2nd season which started on June 23 in the U.S. Enjoy!

Before diving into The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret, first do your David Cross homework.  Watch all of Mr. Show, listen to his standup albums, then watch all three seasons of Arrested Development, and then come back and finish reading this article. Okay, fine. I suppose you can keep reading, but then go do your homework.

For those that aren’t familiar, Cross made his name in comedy in the early 90’s writing for the short-lived Ben Stiller Show near the end of its run. There he met the gifted Bob Odenkirk, and they quickly became good friends and brilliant writing partners. When Stiller was canceled (for the second time in as many years and on as many networks), Cross and Odenkirk created Mr. Show for HBO, which took the best features of The Ben Stiller Show and made it better and way quirkier.  Whereas Stiller was funny and offbeat in its own rite, Mr. Show was borderline absurdest and highlighted Bob and Dave’s wildly mischievous creativity. Every episode had something of a theme and the sketches would all be interconnected in some (albeit strange and frequently nonsensical) way. Think of it as being a contemporary American Flying Circus. It was awesome.

Cross’s standup then was angry and bitingly funny (He’s still funny, but less angry these days). Get your hands on It’s Not Funny along with Shut Up You Fucking Baby if you can, they’re my favorite live recordings of his standup, and though some parts are a bit dated now due to political references, they’re timeless and absolutely phenomenal.

Arrested Development is one of the funniest (live-action) television shows of the new millennium. I could go on about it forever, but I will write (much, much) more about Arrested Development when it makes its triumphant return sometime next year. So for the time being, go watch all of it and enjoy Cross in the role of Tobias Funke, the ever-confused but well-meaning psycho analyst/therapist, or analrapist as he insists on being called; one of the many Freudian slips that are so cleverly worked into Cross’s character on the show.

After finding success on the UK’s Chanel 4 Comedy Showcase, IFC picked up The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret for two seasons. The show reunites Cross with Arrested Development’s Will Arnett along with Spike Jonze, who is known mainly for his skills as a director, most notably (in the commercial sense) Where the Wild Things Are, but has been adored in the underground scenes of music and skate videos for well over a decade. If nothing else, Todd Margaret, is incredibly aptly named. The show is hard to explain without giving away too much, but it is the tale of an unfortunate man that just doesn’t know when to tell the truth. His lies pile up until they weigh him down while the world beats him up. You’ll find yourself raging at his idiocy but still somehow find empathy for him because he’s just so pathetic. Even when pinned into a corner, he refuses to acknowledge the truth and it makes for some hilariously awkward moments. Introduce yourself to the main characters and watch the first few minutes here.

I cannot recommend that anyone watch this series back to back as I did, it is liable to make you ill, but you should absolutely check it out. If you’re a David Cross fan, you need to see it: Todd Margaret is clever, unique, vulgar, absurd, and damned funny. The second season ended a few months ago and though IFC requested more episodes, David Cross turned them down, saying that enough was enough, and that to take it further would be unnecessary.  You have to respect a comedian when they recognize when a show is over and not try and squeeze every last penny out of it. And if you’re David Cross, who said yes to all three Chipmunks movies, you know how extra hard that can be. 


Will Ferrell wants you to know Danny McBride, and Boom Chicago agrees. Recognize the signature mullet from his peripheral roles in Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder? McBride’s lovable asshole persona shined brightest in the (not entirely successful) low budget 2006 cult film The Foot Fist Way.

This most unappealing protagonist dominates the feel-good 80’s flick turned upside-down. Imagine Karate Kid led by a foul mouthed, delusional North Carolina strip mall Taekwondo instructor. His wife in the film describes him as “the king of the stupidest fucking kingdom in the world.” Watching him is funny and uncomfortable.

Like many cult movies, Foot Fist was not well received by the general public. Luckily, it managed to catch the eye of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay who purchased the rights, hoping to land a sleeper hit. It didn’t work. Despite a bit of marketing, and a great, awkward appearance in character on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, (www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDPyyGwZ1uk) Foot Fist was a commercial failure. Ferrell and Mackay, however, saw something and asked McBride and his creative team (Jody Hill and Ben Best) to create a show for HBO.

That show became Eastbound & Down. It takes the most brilliant parts of The Foot Fist Way (including much of the cast) and does it with a bigger budget and the clout and production experience of Ferrell and McKay.

Eastbound & Down is the story of Kenny Powers, a baseball player who spurned his hometown and high-school sweetheart for a chance at the big time, just to return years later, destitute and out of options. He has only an inflated sense of self, a love of drugs and trail of loose women to show for all of his “success.” His career is not over, he believes, only on hiatus. Others are not so sure.

Eastbound & Down began its 3rd season in the US on HBO yesterday. Boom Chicago alumni Ike Barinholtz and Jason Sudeikis join the already stellar cast. Gentlemen, start your torrents…

Will: www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6w13AzWtSU&feature=related
Danny: www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDPyyGwZ1uk

Ava Vidal’s comedy can make people a little uncomfortable, and that’s fine by her.  The British comedienne takes pleasure in making people squirm.

Her story is unusual in that she was a mother at 18, a victim of domestic violence, and worked as a prison guard for four years before quitting to pursue her comedy career.  Far from holding her back, her experiences have shaped her merciless comedy (and her personality).

Like Louis CK, she jokes frequently about her children, although you have to wonder how her kids, both well into their teens, can handle watching her on stage and still share a house with her. She claims favorites, admits to hypocrisy, and even ridicules her daughter’s weight problem! You’ll catch yourself laughing at jokes that you know you shouldn’t.

On March 11, Ava launches her Dutch tour at Boom Chicago! Greg Shapiro, Boom Chicago’s American Nederlander presents the tour and performs as well.  It will be a great night!

Doors open at 19:00 for dinner, show at 20:15. Make sure to grab your tickets now while they last at www.Boomchicago.nl or by calling the box office at (020) 423 0101.

Ava Vidal: www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7AhU_rYG7w
Greg Shapiro:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix_C002ZGq8

Other dates in Nederland
Datum                  Locatie                 Theater                         Kaarten
11 maart 2012    Amsterdam        Boom Chicago                  020-4230101
13 maart 2012    Den Haag          Theater Pepijn                 
070-3610540
15 maart 2012    Rotterdam         Theater Zuidplein             
010-2030203
16 maart 2012    Utrecht              Schillertheater                
030-2319380