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Monday 18 November 2019

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Hamburgers in Delft?

Don’t mess with Mother Nature – especially in Delft, says Greg Shapiro

How the hell do I get into these situations?

I’m an expat comedian. My friend is also an expat, who likes comedians. I was doing a show in Delft. She lives in Delft. I needed to promote my show to expats. She organises events for expats. Also, I’m involved in politics. She’s involved in politics! Would I like to come and promote my show to expats who like politics? I said: YES!

The only problem was: I was working for Amsterdam D66, she was for GroenLinks. I said: ‘Okay, then: we won’t talk about politics.’ What I didn’t realise was: the entire event was to be held IN THE GROENLINKS HEADQUARTERS. Awkward.

Without knowing at the time, I ended up being as un-Green as possible for the Delft event. I’d planned to take the train from Amsterdam to Delft, like I normally do. But the NS website said there were huge delays. So I borrowed my father in-law’s car. I don’t know how much CO2 I emitted. But – according to – it’s 75% more than taking the train.

The good news was I wouldn’t have to walk from the train station. I could park close to the gig. Or so I thought. I found myself a nice spot, but my parking app wouldn’t register the location.

I tried to pay at a parking meter, but there was a sign hanging there with some complicated story. Soon enough, a helpful dogwalker came along and explained the new Delft parking policy: residents only.

He directed me to the nearest parking area, just outside the city centre. It sounded like a pretty Green initiative. But – after moving my car – I had to laugh at the irony: I was now going to be late to the GroenLinks meeting because of the initiative of GroenLinks.

I finally got to the location. It was an old store front on a lovely, historic canal. Too perfect. I was ushered inside and offered a cup of tea. ‘I hope you have green tea,’ I said. The woman laughed politely: ‘I don’t think so, but that would be a good idea!’ I then pointed at her tray and produced a teabag labelled ‘Green Tea with jasmine.’ Delicious.

The event began. As it turned out, I did talk about politics a bit. I made a link between Green (for GroenLinks) and Education (for D66) in the form of TU Delft.

Did you know: some of the best CleanTech innovations are coming from Dutch higher education, such as the ‘Yes!Delft’ platform. In fact, the speaker after me elaborated on how the university is basically using Delft as a laboratory for sustainable projects. Their goal is to make Delft city centre energy-independent by 2015. (That’s next year.) Keep an eye on these guys.  

The show I was scheduled to do in Delft – the show I was promoting – is called ‘Superburger: the Man with Split Nationalities.’ (Burger as in ‘Citizen,’ Super as in ‘More than one’) The GroenLinks presenter introduced my show as ‘Super Hamburger.’ Now THAT really would be chutzpah: going to a GroenLinks event and not only representing a different political party but actively promoting beef consumption. Just thinking about it, the American in me was proud.

I left the event without too much awkwardness, having crashed a GroenLinks event to talk about the D66 agenda and to promote my own show. I couldn’t help feeling there’d be some bad karma waiting for me somewhere nearby.

And there it was. When I got back to the parking lot, birds had pooped all over my car. Not just little white splotches, but enormous grey blobs of a size I’d never seen before. I looked up and realised – the hard way – that the defecating birds were still directly above. I’d learned my lesson: don’t mess with Mother Nature. Especially in Delft. 

Greg Shapiro is an American Dutch comedian and author of How to be Orange. His NL comedy tour with UK TV favourite Glenn Wool starts 9 April

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