Wanted: Comedy Talent
Groningen is a great place to be funny , was proven this October on the annual student comedy event ‘Groninger Studenten Cabaret Festival’. Three days in a row, the Stadschouwburg was filled with students on the lookout for young comedy talent. GroningenLife! was there.
The first show had a good start with a bunch of students coming in just when the host of the evening, Peter Pannekoek (We have not made this up, it really is a Dutch name), had begun cracking jokes to warm-up the audience. Unfortunately for the students their seats were on the first row, so they couldn’t settle down without being noticed. Instead of dipping into his repertoire, Peter now started a small roast of one of the students. We now know that he is called Bart, is single, loves food and that his nickname is mallebeen, which translates as ‘silly legs’.
It was a promising start for the 25th edition of the festival, where five comedians and one comedy-group competed for a jury to win the festival . On top of that, the audience could pick their favourite by ballot-voting. A prestigious contest, since some winners of the past are now famous Dutch comedians, such as Theo Maassen and Jochem Meijer. In Dutch, cabaret usually means a combination of stand-up comedy and a theatrical approach. So apart from plain jokes and one-liners, there was room for imitations, songs and characters.
While the competitors might have had stage fright, the audience was as relaxed as possible. With a cool glass beer in their hands they cheerfully awaited the jokes. The male comedy group ‘Jeroens Clan’ took off with their show ‘Wat zouden de buren daarvan denken?‘, which translates as ‘What will the Neighbours think?’. With brilliant imitations of typical Dutch hockey girls (it’s a phenomenon here) and humor which you’ll normally only here in a bar in Amsterdam, they got the show going. Some jokes were almost out of line, but their merry, rhyming songs made up for it.
The next competitor, a young girl named Iris Pieterse, had to rely on her sweet side. For example, she felt a shame of her study programme ‘Leisure Management’, as it is not conversation material. She would rather say she’s studying Coastal and Marine Engineering & Management, now that’s a good conversation starter at parties! With funny songs and sharp observations of student life she had an entirely different act than the boys. As a real student she knew exactly where to find the cheapest products in the supermarket. Something the crowd could relate to! Her solution for the hungry and needy? Cans of tomato paste for 7 eurocent!
The last comedian of the first day was Yvonne America. A comical French student who effectively used self-deprecating humor: ‘I’m not chubby at all! Come here Bart, feel my legs, all muscles right?’ The best part was her impression of a Parisian driving instructor. In fluid French she let her deep-voiced character drink, smoke and flirt with her while driving. Hilarious! “Yvonne, il y a le volant et baise-moi!”. Or something like that.
Other heroes of the festival were the eight young students of the organising committee. All year they worked hard. Many try-out evenings were held and of course the three days of the festival itself took a lot of effort. The applause and laughter of just the first evening already showed it was worth it. Two days after our visit, Hiske Schipper, a Dutch language student from the University of Groningen, won both the jury and the audience vote. As it turned out, no lack of comedy talent in Groningen.
By: Ido Venhuizen