First, I watch a lot of Dutch TV to learn the language. I find it a really entertaining way to learn colloquial Dutch. If you haven’t had the chance to watch some of the programs, I list some of them here, as I want to share my favorite Dutch people with you. Also, if you like a Dutch celebrity you see on TV, then you’re in for a treat because celebrities show up everywhere! On talk shows, game shows, specials, hosting events – the same people pop up everywhere. So indulge me for a few minutes while I share some of my favorite Dutch people …
One of the best shows to watch, especially if you’re a trivial fan, is 50/50, where two contestants are asked 50 questions in 30 minutes. They can choose from two answers – one correct, one incorrect – giving them a 50/50 chance of answering correctly. The show is fast-paced and makes it easy to pick up Dutch. But it’s the host, Winston Gerschtanowitz, who really makes the show awesome to watch. Now that I can understand a bit of Dutch, I’m catching all the funny jokes. His mannerisms make it even funnier!
Like other Dutch celebrities, he shows up on other shows too, including the new Marble Mania game show and the National Postcode Lottery commercials. Winston got his start on a Dutch soap opera before moving on to a boy band in the 90s. He’s been a participant or presenter on a number of Dutch shows including Dancing on Ice, RTL Boulevard, The Voice of Holland and It Takes 2, together with another popular Dutch celebrity, Gordon. You can catch 50/50 on SBS6.
Fred van Leer
When RuPaul’s Drag Race brought its franchise to the Netherlands, the queen herself RuPaul Charles picked Fred van Leer to host the popular reality competition show. Starting September 2020, Videoland streaming viewers were treated to Van Leer hosting the wild and crazy show. Having been a former drag queen in his earlier years, this Rotterdammer was living out what he called his ‘dream’. I’m a huge Drag Race and RuPaul fan, so having someone else sit in that iconic seat was almost sacrilegious for me. But Fred was funny and caring as he mentored the participating drag queens and made the show his own.
Fred is also the host of the Alles uit de kast – a show where he transforms plain Janes into stylish divas. 2020 seemed to be Fred’s year, until in the fall a sex tape of him was leaked, followed by a violent break-in in his home, where he was threatened at gun point. He recently said that he has put all this behind him and thanked his friends and fans for their love and support.
You know a person is a true comedian when they make you laugh, even if you don’t understand what they are saying. This is Elise Schaap. I first saw Elise on Welkom in de 80-jarige oorlog (Welcome to the 80-Years War), a series on NPO3. I was watching old episodes of the history-made-fun series to – you guessed it! – learn Dutch, when I saw the comedic genius who is Elise Schaap. When I first started watching I didn’t understand much, but she still made me laugh out loud!
I was so happy when I realized that most Dutch celebrities show up on other shows and saw her on the one and only hilarious TV Kantine! It parodies other Dutch shows in skits that can only be described as the Dutch Saturday Night Live. Elise steals every single scene! In recent episodes she’s impersonated Karen Carpenter singing Flop of the World, Margaret Thatcher in the show’s hilarious lampoon of The Crown and even the 80s’ Taylor Dayne. But it’s her impression of Queen Máxima, in a hilarious skit making fun of a recent scandal surrouning the royal family, that is the best of all! You can watch TV Kantine on RTL4, though not until next season.
Written by Marla Thomson