We must continue to get through the already theatre-less weekends this spring and summer without Sunday with Lubach and This Was The News. Their season is over. The latter remained witty without an audience, Lubach in my opinion did not. How did that happen?
Five weeks ago, when the shows first recorded it without an audience, it was striking that Sunday with Lubach had lost something except that audience. The entire broadcast was dedicated to instilling in the viewing public that they should keep one-and-a-half metres between themselves. In terms of content, it became a PO Box 51, in terms of tone a preacher's sermon. Which, by the way, a large proportion of our cabaret performers know how to score with; they know so damn well what is wrong in and with our lives and will put it right for a while.
Just hold your judgement on Lubach, I thought. Especially since it is so sad when, as a performer, you are affected by Corona measures such as playing without an audience. Besides, it could also be down to this viewer that Sunday with Lubach didn't strike a chord. N=1, those I watched with were less affected.
Ajax out of shape
But it didn't get any better for me. Lubach sat at the table with Tex de Wit and Janine Abbring like a vicar with his elders, the good Jeanine with headphones for unsuspected reasons, Tex with the pleasant mug of the cuckolded husband. During those five weeks, Lubach himself came off with difficulty. The third broadcast was a huge relief for me. Thanks to filleting RUMAG. and momentum in the programme, it was old-fashioned enjoyment again.
Arjen complained in the first broadcast about remote working by the editors of Zondag met Lubach. That includes great humorists such as Diederik Smit (the best we have), Jonathan van het Reve and Edo Schoonbeek. That is no guarantee of success; Ajax also has lousy periods. Analysts - who are called analytics - have all kinds of explanations for this, but you don't really have any idea what it is.
I did wonder why nothing was done about the stiff set-up. Lubach is not inherently witty, and already lacks the look of John Oliver who makes you laugh just seeing him. Now Lubach is not an a priori humourist, but a razor-sharp critic, so you can't compare the programmes one-to-one. However, I did notice that Lubach lacks an important trait of the good humourist: self-mockery.
Pannekoek, Edens and Van der Wal
And that is precisely what makes the difference with Dit Was Het Nieuws. Peter Pannekoek, Jan Jaap van der Wal and especially presenter Harm Edens see no point in making a monkey out of themselves. I think this makes the programme so unique that it is already such a 25 years along with it. It is also inherently witty: the scripted jokes with lyrics are high-level, while the spontaneous contributions regularly make me giggle and are sometimes razor-sharp. Like last weekend's observation that many parents find out with homeschooling that their children are slightly less brilliant than they had always thought.
Guests, whether they bring humour or not, often contribute nicely to the programme because they understand the art of stating, like last weekend's Leonie ter Braak. Who, incidentally, dwarfed Sjaak Bral, but that doesn't matter. Of course, Pannekoek is dominant, but he is also just a terribly witty, intelligent joker; even if he shows grumpiness due to sitting inside for a long time, and that he has "been without sex for three months" as he said himself. And presenter Harm Edens gets better the older he gets, as he becomes more witty in his handling of the role of victim and is also happy to accept gay jokes. And now wields 'the laugh button' with verve, found as sublime as it is simple by the makers.
On 25 April, BNNVara kicks off Even Tot Hier again, also without an audience and without a complete band from Belgium. You hold your heart for Niels van der Laan and Jeroen Woe, who are not so keen on spontaneity. But watch Dit Was het Nieuws and also Beau on RTL4: improvise and don't take yourself too seriously, dear editors with Peter Heerschop, Peter Capel, Emilio Guzman, Owen Schumacher and Armèn Hakhverdian.
Incidentally, all men too, where are the female writers for said shows?