Paul van Vliet in Zuid-Afrika

There’s a Dutch word, ‘caberetier‘, borrowed from the French, which refers to a combination of comedian and stage actor and, indeed, has the implication of ‘cabaret’, a multidisciplinary stage show.

Paul van Vliet is one of those and, at 72, considered to be one of the few remaining great ones. In Holland at least.

However, personally, I tend not to be too much impressed by these Dutch caberetiers. Their jokes are often populist and their tricks tend to be the same or very similar, over and over again.

Likewise, I’m not a fan of van Vliet, although during this show I realized that it’s not van Vliet as such, but the characters he often impersonates on stage, which made him famous, that I don’t like.

For this show, van Vliet was flown from Holland to South Africa to entertain the Dutch contingent in both Pretoria and Cape Town, in celebration for the queen’s birthday, traditionally celebrated on April 30th, which actually is the previous queen’s birthday. Many Dutch embassies, all over the world, throw parties around this date but mostly it’s limited to snacks and drinks at the ambassador’s residence. This time, the snacks and drinks followed the show, held at the Musaion, the theatre for the University of Pretoria.

The show was quite enjoyable, partially because he didn’t rely on his impersonations and, possibly, partly because there’s no need (anymore) for him to prove himself. He mostly talked about his experiences trying to set up an English-language equivalent of his Dutch stage shows in the UK and the US, with very mixed success.

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Afterwards, the luscious collection of drinks and snacks included the great Dutch treat of raw herring, but no oranjebitter!