This gig is part of Alkmaar week, commemorating 70 years of Bath’s twinning relationship with that Dutch town (It’s a very moving story: look it up.), and there are actually a few people from Alkmaar in the audience. But there, apart from some Dutch banter with them by the MC, the specific Alkmaar stuff ends; and we’re in for an evening of comedy from Dutch comics from other parts of the Low Countries. Actually one of them is Belgian, but hey, it’s the EU. (An organisation I doubt anyone in tonight’s audience voted to leave). The whole thing is hosted by Rayen Panday, a warm and witty man who is an adept compere, with some clever routines of his own about his encounters with those who don’t think he’s Dutch because he’s brown. He doesn’t overdo the banter with audience members, but does establish that a significant portion of the audience is a party of visiting students from California. So now we’ve got transatlantic as well as cross-Channel solidarity. First comic up is Stefan Pop whose informal, lazily hesitant delivery of anecdotes from his life has him skating around what’s racist and what is not; and includes a wicked routine about his contact from an opera singer who has the same name and wants to buy his domain name. He’s followed by the ebullient Kasper van der Laan who can get laughs from unbelievably oddball angles, including, for instance, how many denier women’s tights should be (you had to be there). Jeroen Leenders, with more hair and beard than anyone is entitled to, takes the evening by the throat with lots of shouty semi-surreal anecdotes from his uncompromisingly individualist life, and actually gets an audience ( well, the women anyway) to sing along with Total Eclipse Of The Heart, which is hilarious. I don’t know why. Last up is Johan Goussens who is uncompromising that his act is about sex. Gay sex, as it turns out. About which he goes into increasingly graphic detail, unconcerned that this may not be of such great interest to the majority of his audience; as though being gay is some sort of unique achievement. Get over it Johan, it’s no big deal. But he does get plenty of laughs here and there, and establishes a link with gay people in the audience. Though the rest of us might wish he could keep the messier details to himself.

But, all in all, this is a great evening in an atmosphere of warmth, fun, laughter and international solidarity – and bugger Brexit. Hartelijk bedankt, heren.






John Christopher Wood

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