GREG SHAPIRO Saves the Climate at Branoul in The Hague

Greg Shapiro is a man of many hats – Master of Ceremonies, author, campaigner and public speaker. But there is one hat he always wears, that of a comedian. Everything he does is infused with humour, or as he would say, humor. He is not one of those comedians that harasses or embarrasses his audience, getting laughs at their expense – an aspect of stand-up that puts off a lot of people. Greg is very easy going, very laid back and it’s difficult not to like him. Billing himself as The American Netherlander he has lived in Amsterdam for the best part of thirty years with a Dutch wife and family. He was one of the founding fathers of Boom Chicago, the bastion of English language comedy in Holland, and still regularly appears there.

I have known Greg for a few years, seen his act and read (and reviewed in these pages) his books. But tonight at the small but perfectly formed Branoul theatre in the heart of The Hague I saw him for the first time wearing his campaigning hat, delivering Sixty Minutes of Climate Good News.

No doubt there are those who would believe it difficult to talk for an hour on that subject but Mr Shapiro, ever the optimist, does just that. Now, it could be said that, being in the middle of the coldest, wettest and windiest Spring that any of us can remember, “global warming” is a bit of a misnomer. That may seem a little facetious but the fact is, it’s the other side of the same coin – there is no doubt the climate is changing. That won’t come as news to those who live in England, or indeed Holland, who always have been able to enjoy all four season in the space of one day.

Greg’s project started when his eighteen-year-old son complained about being depressed, brought on by the news about climate change, and Greg set out to find any positive aspects of the issue and the result is this show. He takes us through some of the developments and innovations that could halt, or at least slow down the slide, many of which are taking place in The Netherlands, a country with a vested interest as it will be the first to know about rising sea levels. We hear of several ways of reducing greenhouse gasses, one being the development in laboratories of cultivated meat whereby a machine turns grass and cells taken from animals into protein, completely by-passing the farting cows. The manufacturers prefer the term “cultivated” to “lab grown”, fearing that the latter may bring up images of Frankenstein. In fact, a lot of these new ideas ring of Big Brother and science fiction – remember the film Solyent Green?

Sixty Minutes of Climate Good News is more stand-up than tirade with lots of tangents, asides and jokes but nevertheless Greg does emphasise that it’s not all gloom and doom and while the light at the end of the tunnel is not in sight, at least we can see the tunnel.

Seven years ago Greg was the voice of Donald Trump in the America First, The Netherlands Second video that went viral with twenty-nine million views. With Trump now back on the scene, biggly, Greg is revamping his show Leaving Trumpland and v.2 will be on the road soon and we were privileged to hear some of the new material in a mini try-out after the main body of last night’s performance.

If you haven’t caught a Greg Shapiro show yet I recommend that you do so. While he will not have you rolling on the floor in hysterical laughter with tears in your eyes his relaxed style is totally engaging and ensures you will have a smile on your face for the whole evening without the fear of being singled out and humiliated.   Michael Hasted  22nd April 2022