Who Are We?easylaughs is an international improvised comedy group based in Amsterdam. Many of the players are full-time actors and theatre teachers and several of the cast have been playing together for more than 10 years. The cast includes voice actors, television presenters and writers and covers a wide international range with two Dutch, five British, an American, an Australian and a New Zealander.
Current cast members
Ashley started improvising in Australia back in the 90s doing Theatersports, before the Y2K bug devastated the developed world. Out of the ruins, he moved to Amsterdam in 2007 after a year in London and joined easylaughs. Ashley has improvised across Australia and Europe. He has a love of genre and has improvised everything from Shakespeare to the Coen Brothers to science fiction. Some of his jokes are more current that Y2K.
Ben started writing and performing comedy while at University. Spurred on by the overwhelming positive reaction from the audience (ie small groups of his friends) he felt compelled to push it further. He joined the Cambridge Footlights and went on to perform in numerous comedy shows with partners Will Ing and Dan Gaster - including five years at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He writes and presents for BBC Radio and Television (BBC World's "Fast Track"), which would be great except he lives in Amsterdam. Ben spends a lot of his time on planes.
Some twenty-something years ago, the geniuses behind IKEA assembled their most successful product to date: the EMMÄ. One third singer, one third improviser, one third cane-sugar, and 100% Swedish, the EMMÄ was imported to Amsterdam in 2014. Since then she’s been honing her skills as an improviser, as well as combining improv with her passion for music. She fancies improvised musicals and created a show with improvised opera. EMMÄ enjoys anything with high sugar content, “fika”, and all stereotypically Swedish things
Huib van der Gaag
Huib was born on a boat less than a mile from here. Not that he counts in miles, as he’s never lived in a country where that was needed (Canada uses kilometres right?) He started doing improv 15 years ago on a Tuesday, and has never taken a break from it. He likes being on bicycles of any kind, unfair games, being on Latvian radio shows, needs new glasses and dislikes shaving. Which really shows in many a character he puts on stage! Next to Easylaughs, Huib is a founding member of BROOS, part of many other groups and can be seen hard at work at the most prestigious filmmuseum in the Netherlands.
Half Brazilian half Dutch you’d think she’d be the ultimate speciwoman for a Victoria’s Secret supermodel. Unfortunately Joana found that she’s the most unbrazilian Brazilian and the least Dutch of the Dutch. Yet she couldn’t stay away from the lights and so she struts her stuff on a stage where she can be both supermodel and supertroll. Maybe she was born with it, maybe it’s improv. In her real life Joana hosts The Pondercast podcast, enjoys playing board games and is team Nintendo ftw.
Jochem started performing improv ages ago. In Amsterdam he met and joined with other players to form Problem Solved (later to become easylaughs). In 2003 Jochem performed with Blind Date, a longform improv group, at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. Jochem teaches improv for many theatersports groups all around the country. He is so busy with it that he created a job out of it. Jochem is the founder of 'El Mustachios' (two time winners of the Boom Chicago Improv Battle), where his alter ego Jose Meijerinos along with his mates create mayhem on stage.
John Mabey was raised in a desert and usually feels chilly, even on warm days. He first learned improv from easylaughs many, many years ago when the world was a simpler place and Lady Gaga was only a 1-hit wonder - since then, both of their careers have really taken off. John moved to New York and London but ultimately realized that Amsterdam was gezellig all along. He loves to perform with people of any numerical denomination and also happily performs by himself as Mabey Solo. When not performing, John is busy writing plays, talking about plays, reading plays and watching plays.
Nicole comes from Washington D.C. and studied improv in Chicago. She is a founding member of easylaughs and performed with Problem Solved and Blind Date in Amsterdam. She is in her late 40s, Capricorn and left-handed. She teaches and performs improvisation all over the Netherlands. She has directed and performed in Washington D.C., Chicago, Amsterdam and Edinburgh. She went to Las Vegas to learn how to teach yoga, showing a sense of humour even in downward facing dog.
Peter thinks in English, has performed in Dutch and has had conversations about football in Mandarin. He has been on Dutch TV and Slovenian radio. He writes, reads, acts, teaches, does voice-overs and gets obsessed with bands. He has been in more groups than he would care to admit to. He has been in The Netherlands since 2001 and in easylaughs since before it existed. His well-respected improv blog is to be found at http://improblog.mrpetermore.com/
Approximately 26,500 years ago, a volcanic eruption left a lake the size of Hong Kong city in the North Island of New Zealand. 24,524 years later, Sarah Grimmer was born in the same spot. The events have similarities. Sarah first improvised in New Zealand before moving to France in 2002. There she performed with The Improfessionals. In 2008, after moving to the Netherlands, she joined easylaughs. She has now relocated to Hong Kong, making the improv commute to CREA slightly longer.
Trista has a smile that won't quit and a laugh that echos for days. You hear her before you see her. And what you see is mostly teeth. This is the desired effect. Trista bounds on stage and screen with crazy infectious energy. Get infected today!
No longer with us...These are the players who have played with us in the past and have moved on to other things. We keep in contact with our old boys and girls and will often have them back as guests. Thanks for all the good times, old friends!
Previous cast members
Anna was a member of easylaughs from 2004 until 2006. Anna is into all creative things especially; baking cakes, painting, building flat-pack furniture, making noise, sculpting stuff from old bar mats and of course, improv. She sells her oil paintings for a living and spends most of her time laughing a little too loudly.
Anne de Graaf
Anne is the youngest member of the group, she was born when some of the easylaughers had already been to college. She's a Dutchie with an international mindset. Before she joined Easylaughs she performed with a Dutch improv group for several years. She lived in New York and works as a drama teacher at a school for bilingual education. With speaking English so often it's almost impressive that she still has a Dutch accent.
Annelies van Dam
Annelies grew up in Montreal, where she first started doing improv, or l’improvisation, in French. She then moved to Groningen, where she switched to Dutch improv, or improvisatie. Annelies has performed in several theatre productions and recently appeared naked in a national tv-commercial.
When the 80’s turned into the 90’s a baby boy was born on a sunny beach in Italy. His name was Davide and he was raised by lemons and a quattro stagioni which explains his intellect and funnybones. After a few years he said goodbye to his delicious family and ended up in Holland where he has earned himself a master in physics and crafted his skills in improv. FINALLY you’ll be able to enjoy improv about complex metaphysics in Italian that no easylaugher has previously understood. In his spare time he loves to do typical Italian things like waving his hands while passionately talking about pasta.
Emil Struijker Boudier
Emil is the easylaughs Technical Improviser, meaning he arranges show lighting, sound and video projection.
He joined easylaughs in 2010, when show lighting was either ON or OFF, and since then he has continually pushed the technical boundaries of easylaughs improv. Not only that, but during this time he has put in more show attendances than any other team member!
Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Herman came to Amsterdam in 2002. Since then he has graduated from the International School of Amsterdam and for some reason studied International Business at University. He moved to Liverpool to study at the famous performing school there before moving to Los Angeles.
Jake fell into the world of improv since remembering lines is quite hard for someone with a swiss-cheese memory. He first studied improv in New York City (at the PIT) and later in Washington, D.C. (at the WIT). He performed with easylaughs until 2014.
Janette found improv in 2009 after going to an easylaughs Sunday workshop for the first time, realising that there were classes to practise doing it and going to a level 1 Improv course the very next evening. She'd been acting in her spare time for several years but this form of theatre certainly appealed to her (no need to learn lines you see). She was a perfomer with easylaughs until the summer of 2016.
Jim was born in Oxford, England. Growing up surrounded by the dreaming spires of the ancient University City, he was once seen delivering fruit and vegetables in the background of Inspector Morse, had a picnic quite near to where Lewis Carroll wrote Alice in Wonderland, sat in the pub where Tolkien had been to once and trod the pavement outside Rowan Atkinson's old University, frankly his future was sealed from the start. Just a few short decades later he inevitably ended up improvising with easylaughs.
Kiki is Dutch-Australian which means spiritually, she lives at the Earth's core. She has been improvising since 2004 and is proud of the fact she has only been attemptedly strangled on stage twice.
Lolu began his career in Groningen and is the founding member of the House of Mangoes, a show that played weekly to packed houses. After moving to Amsterdam and setting up house he joined easylaughs in the beginning of 2006. He is now an actor with Boom Chicago.
Luke is an adventurer and explorer with a strong moral sense(!). He usually solves problems with his wits rather than with force, and is more likely to wield a sense of humour than a gun; although he has been seen to use weapons as a last resort. Originally from Wales, Luke explores the world at random and has lived in the English Lake District, London, Brighton and Sydney and never stayed in any one place for more than 8 years. The imprecise nature of his travels is attributed to the age and unreliability of his brain.
Mark performed with Problem Solved and easylaughs since 2003 - winning a Boom Chicago Improv Battle with his team-mates along the way. He has survived 16 years in Amsterdam without owning a bike, will unleash his inner German if you ask him nicely.
Rick spent three years with easylaughs. A native of the USA, he now lives in Amsterdam which made it a lot easier to make to the shows every Friday night.
Rod Ben Zeev
Rod joined easylaughs in the beginning of 2006 and now works full-time as an improvisation actor and teacher. In his spare time he can often be seen navigating the canals of Amsterdam on the historical boat “Athena.” Rod would like to thank Ginny, Harriet, Connie, Florence, Julie Stevens, Tony Mendoza and the Chicago Transit Authority for all the fun improv times above and below ground.
Steve is a musician turned improviser turned improv musician. He plays piano, guitar, ukelele, theremin, cajon, and kalimba. He played with easylaughs from 2008 to 2011.