The Chronicles of Arna

Arna Spek is Dutch and is attempting to blend in with the English now she has moved to London. She tells us stories about her boyfriend and the council flat they’ve just bought. She shares anecdotes about her job at the Museum of London and regales us with her adventures on her bicycle.

She is geekily charming, dressed in quirky attire and opens in Dutch, nominating an audience member to be her fellow Dutchie. It is a brave opening, I can understand the language so have to imagine some bewilderment from the non-Dutch speaking crowd but it was a friendly home crowd and her nominee was willing to play along.

She then helps the audience by producing pieces of paper with English translations, or should I say Denglish: the infamous Dutch/English. In written and spoken word, Arna uses this trade to her advantage. Dutch and English are linguistically not far apart and you’ll get direct translations (like ‘icebear’ instead of ‘polarbear’ for example) which add to the comedy. While connecting to her audience, she also adds ‘ isn’t it?’ to every other sentence, even when that sentence would need a different add-on: “ People do these things, isn’t it?” is a perfectly normal phrase in Arna’s world.

Her anecdotes are even funny when treading into usually base toilet humour and cringey gynaecology territory: here the persona that she has created works in her favour. She is so bubbly, happy, geeky that sharp and mean puns can draw the biggest laughs.

The way Arna handles the crowd shows her experience in stand-up - even good humoured hecklers are dealt with kindly but swiftly. Her stand-up background also seeps through in the short anecdotes and the quick movement between the jokes about different aspects of her life.

If anything, I’d say that the set was a little short to fill a whole show: just hitting 30 minutes. It was definitely too short to repeat the opening joke by reverting back to Dutch and getting the English translation cards out again. Arna has great material and a very distinctive style though; so do keep an eye out for this Dutch dame.

Reviews by Clarissa Widya

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The Blurb

Stand-up comedian from the Netherlands Arna Spek is trying to blend in with the English! Will she manage to integrate? An epic story, full of dangerously awkward moments.

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