Preview: Hans Teeuwen, Soho Theatre, London

Missed by the Dutch, but a hit with Brits
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The Independent Culture

Hans Teeuwen is a big cheese in Holland, where his showbiz career has been blighted by personal tragedy. His brand of outrageous and surreal comedy rose to the nation's attention as part of a double-act cabaret show called Heist in 1991. The following year, his performing partner, Roland Smeenk, was killed in a road accident. Then in 2003, following the murder of his close friend Theo Van Gogh, the film-maker for whom Teeuwen devised the 2003 film Interview, the comedian decided to stop doing stand-up in his native country. "They miss me very much in Holland," he says. "People are crying and urging me to perform stand-up every day."

Now he is restarting his career in a new language. Teeuwen, who had rave reviews at the 2007 Edinburgh Fringe Festival as part of the Amsterdam Underground Collective, has been invited by Soho Theatre to perform a full show. This will include extra material "I talk about extreme violence and sexuality" as well as whether to watch black-and-white or colour movies, and Teeuwen's father's talking rabbit.

"Everything is completely new," he says. "It all got a bit repetitious in Holland and I needed a change. It's exciting to continue stand-up outside of Holland as I can take the audience by surprise."

He says he is known for his onstage mood swings. "I can be confrontational and very rude one minute and then very poetic. My main aim is to keep the audience on its toes."

Teeuwen has not deserted his native country and has turned to singing Frank Sinatra songs with his jazz band in last year's show Hans Teeuwen Sings Songs That Have Been Performed Many Times Better By More Talented People. He has also been a guest on political TV programmes talking about free speech and the decline of Dutch liberalism.

"The great thing about being a solo comedian is the artistic freedom that it allows me. I can do whatever I want on stage and I don't have to compromise."

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