‘Do you stand by anything you say? Or do you just sell yourself out when it’s convenient?’
‘You should have more pizza on your shirt.’
‘Hey! That’s my bike!’
‘I think you were looking for Jesus.’
‘I hope this kid doesn’t come to me to extend his residence permit.’
‘Shapiro Turns Racist.’
online comment #37
‘Shapiro, it’s simple. Follow our traditions or get out.’
In the Media
‘How to be Orange’ offers an insightful look at Dutch culture by social commentator and comedian Greg Shapiro. Shapiro’s extensive knowledge of Dutch culture and politics has been accrued over twenty years of living and working in the Netherlands.
His cultural immersion has involved marriage to a Dutch woman and parenting first generation Dutch children, while living in Amsterdam and forging a durable career within the local art scene.
In the Netherlands, Shapiro is the immigrant people laugh at. He happily accepts this fate, not just because it is how he makes his living, but because it indicates that his efforts at inburgering have been a success.
Shapiro is an American, obvious in many ways – including numerous comparisons of the Netherlands to the US throughout the book. His birth culture is the basis for what formulates his views about his adopted land.
An example is chapter 22 on Dutch service, renowned for being non-existent if you are lucky, and terrible if your luck is running short. Shapiro rates service in North America as sitting on the other end of the hospitality scale – something akin to being downright annoying due to desire of earnest staff to increase their tips by attentive servitude.
This is not an official cultural guide to the Netherlands; this is the sole vision of an American who has settled in the Netherlands.
Comedian / columnist Greg Shapiro comes directly to the point with his book: his observations are subjective. He writes about his own experiences, and does not claim to have the absolute truth about ‘the Dutch ‘ and ‘Dutch culture.’
What Shapiro experiences differs little from what the average Amsterdammer experiences. Forget ‘Dutch culture’ and ‘the Dutch,’ because the author doesn’t go beyond Mokum, also not historically. If he names Spinoza, it’s as superficial as a walk along the man’s statue at the Stopera.
No comparison with Russell Shorto’s book Amsterdam, which is carefully researched and presents conclusions and perspectives that can be taken seriously.
‘How To Be Orange: An Alternative Assimilation Course’ is the latest book by Greg Shapiro – the Dutch-American actor and comedian, best known for Boom Chicago, Comedy Central and VARA HumorTV – on the Dutch society that is often such a big maze for foreigners.
Shapiro came to the Netherlands in 1994, took the Assimilation Course in 2004 and also achieved Dutch nationality. He is married to a Dutch woman and has two children, who were born here. If necessary, Shapiro can write in Dutch, but he says it still reads like one of the worse versions of Google Translate.
Shapiro holds up a hilarious mirror to Dutch society that magnifies all the stereotypes and shows you how you can look past them to become a true Dutch citizen. In the first part of the book, Shapiro takes on subjects from such as: the Dutch identity, Zwarte Piet, The real Henk & Ingrid, Dutch education (‘Race to the Middle’), and in the second part you can do an integration exam itself.
‘Shapiro storms through the polder culture at 130km per hour. He lands his blows with precision, but all the while you can tell he’s proud to be Dutch.’
‘What’s impressive is that he’s lived in Europe long enough to be well-informed of local politics.’
‘Greg is full of confidence, charisma and English – peppered with Dutch. Ingredients are in perfect working order.’