Before I begin, I’ll acknowledge that his is not the kind of theatre show I’d choose to see. Yet, with the anticipation during the build-up to (and subsequent result and ongoing spates) of the Dutch election drawing attention from far and wide, the idea of a satirical night of comedy reviewing the American and Dutch political systems was very appealing and not to be missed.
It was immediately clear that the two hosts, Pep and Greg, could draw a crowd. There were queues outside and at the bar, a packed coat rack by the entrance and a grappling for seats even with plenty of time before the show began. The audience was made up of millennial twenty-somethings with a few tables of more ‘refined’ characters to boot. As it is with BOOM Chicago, a first come first served venue, you could find yourself on an intimate table for two with table service or in the rafters squashed into an old school chair. It was busy and the show started late. Not only did they draw a crowd, it seemed to me they expected this demographic as jokes were often about the “Snowflakes” and drew on social media interaction and self-deprecating “back in my day” humour.
Described as a “mix of comedy and current event”, the show aptly opened with a discussion about Geert Wilders. Understandably so! Due to the very recent election results, they had a few notes on the floor of the stage which only slightly interrupted the comedic flow from time to time. This opening gave them the perfect opportunity to show off their Dutch culture knowledge – both having lived here for some time and the theatre itself having been set up by Pep and some friends in 1993 – and language (Greg being a dual national) but, most importantly, invited Greg’s Trump impersonation for the first time which was – as expected from reading previous reviews – very, very good.
There are several improvisation scenes where they invited the audience to shout out places, frustrations and other nonsense. Sadly, it didn’t always come off. The suggestions just seems to be plugged into the skit instead of weaved into the improv in any clever way, and were a bit uncomfortable to watch. It didn’t really come to life for me as I had expected it to, based on what I had read about the legacy and reputation of the two top comedian-performers-guest speakers.
Having said that, the overall the show was good. There was the occasional witty one liner and moments when the audience laughed out loud, but their best moments were in the prepared (and rehearsed) to-and-fro between the pair. Such as the Scooby Doo analogy for the unmasking of Trump (again, another opportunity for Greg’s impersonation was taken here!), the Biden-Talladega connection and the end, when we met Greg’s Trump again… by which point my engagement was starting to wane though those around me seemed to be enjoying it still. Throughout the show the use of visuals: photos, memes and video clips, were engaging and entertaining, and gave the show a very ‘current’ feel. Overall though, for me, the comedy was sometimes a bit too obvious and over-played; it said to me: ‘I am here and I am going to be funny’, instead of just being funny. Yet with another sell-out show on Saturday and a few tickets left for Sunday, I left wondering if it was me . . . Rose Fawbert Mills 25th November 2023
Photo by and © Nathalie Hennis