Wow, time has flown by! In 1993, Boom Chicago introduced improvisation comedy to a mainstream Dutch audience. Since then, the successful ensemble has made more than a million people laugh while continuing to innovate in and out of their theater, also in the business arena. Boom Chicago has launched the careers of people like Seth Meyers, Jordan Peele and the creators and stars of Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt and Joe Kelly) and the stars and writers of 50 great TV shows. Best of all, the next generation of comedy superstars are on stage tonight.
In 2018 we celebrated 25 years with two sold out shows in the biggest and most historic theater in the city: The Carre. 2023, Seth Meyers did a stand up show early and Boom performed a show with almost 100 current and ex-Boomers who had flown in for the event. A partial list of alumni was Amber Ruffin, Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect), Ike Barinholtz (History of the World Part II), Josh Meyers, Colton Dunn (Superstore), and Boom-adjacent Dutch superstars Arjen Lubach, Ruben van der Meer, and Jelka van Houten.
For our 30th anniversary, we brought the party to the Rozengracht for a 12 day Boom Chicago Comedy Festival. The event started with a show starring the current cast and Femke Halsema. Yes, the mayor of Amsterdam… who was quite funny herself. Seth Meyers sold out two nights at the historic Tuschinski and the night before, Brendan Hunt (co-creator and star of Ted Lasso) remounted his 2007 hit Five Years in Amsterdam.
The program of 30 comedy shows included a world premiere from Brendan, Seth performing with his Boom Chicago comedy partner Jill Benjamin, Heather Anne Campbell (Rick and Morty), Amber Ruffin and year one cast member Neil McNamara who still had it after 30 years. The Ladies of Boom Chicago featured 12 powerhouse women from the past and present.
To mark our rich history, we wrote a very funny book! The 30 Most Important Years in Dutch History (Akashic Books) is an oral history of Boom Chicago plus our take on life in the Netherlands over the past quarter century. ‘Essential summer reading’ — Chicago Tribune. ‘One of the Best Comedy Books of 2023 (so far)’ Vulture/New York Magazine. ‘Catnip for comedy fans’ — Publishers Weekly ‘Fantastic and inspiring’ — ABC World News. Read more about our book and watch Boom Chicago founders present Prime Minister Mark Rutte with the first copy.
It’s Funny How It All Started…
In 1993, Americans Andrew Moskos and Pep Rosenfeld graduated from university and were traveling in Europe. They immediately fell in love with Amsterdam and had what they claim is ‘the best stoner idea ever’: Quit their jobs in the U.S. and move to Amsterdam to start a theater and comedy show.
They wrote the Amsterdam Board of Tourism for some advice, and the VVV wrote back very quickly: ‘Your idea will not work.’ The letter went on: ‘Dutch People do not want to see a show in English. Tourists do not want to see a show at all. You will need a subsidy to do theater in the Netherlands. You will not get any subsidy.’ (They were actually right about that one.) Their final advice? ‘Think twice about your plans.’ But Andrew and Pep were not dissuaded and came anyway. Joined by Saskia Maas, who had been an exchange student in the U.S. and connected with them there, they started at the small theater Iboya, just around the corner from the Leidseplein.
Boom Chicago introduced improvisation theater to the Netherlands and 30 plus years later, it has grown into the influential and innovative international theater company it is today. Their current complex on the Rozengracht has three theaters with 500 seats, and a creative hub in their multi-level cafe-bar under the original stained glass windows.