A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
You may have noticed that a great many of my posts revolve around Dutch TV. This is not only because of my impressive capacity to lock myself away in my flat for days on end with nothing except the box for company, but also because Nederlandse TV is so consistently surprising that I’m afraid to prise myself away from the screen in case I miss something mind-blowing. Remember, this is the country that broadcasted two TV presenters chomping down on chunks of each other’s flesh in front of a live audience as a stunt on the aptly named series Proefkonijnen (Guinea Pigs). Not to get side-tracked, but I feel that I must share with you what one of the aforementioned amateur cannibals, Dennis Storm, said about their little exploit:
“There’s nothing really special about human meat [although] it is weird to look into the eyes of a friend when you are chewing on his belly. It was just a few centimetres of meat – and now I have a good story about the scar”.
Wasn’t that a nice detour? I won’t taint this blog by posting a link to the video of this grim feat, but for those of you with more morbid curiosity than sense (I confess, I’m one of you), the footage is readily available online.
Anyway, in amongst all the oddities and ‘fantastic for all the wrong reasons’ programming I have found a gem, a treasure, a lady with international appeal. She doesn’t eat human flesh, she doesn’t proclaim her patriotism through the medium of nationalistic game shows – she doesn’t even indulge in that time-honoured Hollandse tradition of sexually harassing farmers. She is Wendy van Dijk, and she is a genuinely hilarious comedienne.
Wendy is most famous for secreting her golden locks under a severe black wig, camouflaging her Caucasian features beneath a veneer of white powder and pretending to be Japanese. Bear with me. In the guise of Ushi Hirosaki, Wendy poses as a Japanese journalist working for Tokyo Broadcasting, a ruse which lets her submit a glut of hapless celebrities to lines of questioning and general whackiness that it would be impossible for anyone else to achieve. The best part of all of this is that the interviews are conducted in English, frequently with British or American celebrities, which means us international types can get in on the joke possibly even before the Dutch audience the show is aimed at.
Being confronted with a barely comprehensible Japanese reporter (“Solly, my Engrish is not so very bad!”) asking bizarre and faintly inappropriate questions tends to either bring out the best or the worst in the unlucky celebrity victims.
Here’s Jamie Oliver having a whale of time…
…while will.i.am looks distinctly uncomfortable, at least so far as I can tell behind those ridiculously oversized glasses that appear to be glued to his face.
Unsurprisingly in this increasingly hypersensitive world, there’s been a bit of a ruckus over Wendy’s act, but the whole thing is done in such a cheerful and carefully-managed manner that I really think such concerns are unfounded. Much like with the kerfuffle around Zwarte Piet, it seems that some people aren’t happy unless they’re painting light-hearted entertainment with the brush of controversy.
If you remain unconvinced, look up Ushi interviewing Adele, Lionel Richie, La Toya Jackson, Geri Halliwell and Donny Osmond on Youtube. If the sight of poor Donny so bewildered by the interview that he collapses into hysterical laughter for the better part of 10 minutes doesn’t bring a smile to your face, nothing will. While the means may be unusual, even questionable, the ensuing hilarity is undeniable.