Many war reporters are left with a mental blow from their work between bombs and grenades. For example, during a stay in Iran, Afghanistan and Beirut, I certainly couldn’t hear a leaking moped without immediately diving flat on his stomach and searching behind a garbage can. It sounds like a joke, but it really is.
My grandmother used to be a blow of the mill, but nowadays we are talking about Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or PTSD. Now you can also ask yourself if someone was already in their right mind when they started to become a war correspondent. After all, the natural reaction of man is to flee from death and destruction. Anyway, there are always crazy people who, in case of fires with a risk of explosion, still get as close as possible to see everything properly.
Someone who has an impressive track record as a war reporter is Arnold Karskens, my former colleague at Dagblad De Pers. As a boy from the Beemsterpolder, Karskens (67) thrived on armed conflicts, whether it was in El Savador, Iraq or Afghanistan. was shot somewhere in the world, this conflict junkie started to itch. And when no fascinating fire was in store for him for a while, he sought his own battle; Karskens started to hunt for a poison gas broker, he argued with former Nazis with everything and everyone who did not meet his standards.
Karskens did not know any genes during eruptions. I was two rows behind him at the ‘De Tegel’ journalism awards ceremony in 2012, when he started screaming from the audience that winner Natalie Righton had plagiarized. You wonder if a man like that doesn’t have someone by his side who then soothingly says, “John, Arnold, hold back a bit. You’re really getting too old for this.” But no, Arnold only got better with age. Typical PTSD, I thought at the time. Short fuses, angry outbursts and occasionally even delusions.
But something has recently changed. I don’t know about the use of therapists, psychiatrists, anti-depressants, cold water baths, or other treatment methods, but Arnold Karstens is reborn. He has now reached the state pension age, and he has set up his own broadcaster under the banner of the NPO: Ongehoord Nederland. And I’m an instant fan. Arnold has traded conflict for comedy in his old age. His news column Ongehoord Nieuws is – twice a week – satire of the first order. Where I originally couldn’t bring up much more than a smile at VPRO celebrity Arjen Lubach, I get pleasure from it.
If John de Mol is really as smart as it gets original, he should immediately dig deep into the stock market and reinforce the moribund SBS6 with daily Ongehoor Nieuws at prime time. Do you want to think of making a Moroccan with a speech impediment and floppy ears anchorman? genius! Much nicer than a gooey Peter Pannekoek from the cleft lip sound by Jan Jaap van der Wal. You really tear yourself apart when Ahmed Aara exclaims in quasi-ABN: “They are breaking their own rules!”
Unheard of in the Netherlands is VPRO 2.0. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that the inimitable Wim T. Schippers directs the broadcasts. Because at the height of absurdity, there is a presenter next to Ahmed, who we know from the hilarious Decupré mattress advertisement; not yet nominated for the Loden Leeuw in 2021! With a slight hysteria in her eyes blondie Arlette Adriani croaks through the unparalleled comic texts of the autocue. And then you see that not only is talent, but practice is practice at Astro TV.
It is obvious; they are not the first comedians from whom Karstens gets help. A day before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we saw Thierry Baudet standing up for Putin on Ungehoord Nieuws. And Kartsen himself from there looking deep into it, that Russia wouldn’t plan to invade all of Ukraine, just in the buffer. It was fake news for everyone to hear. This would never have happened under Trump.
Comedy is one of the most difficult art forms. And satire and irony, in particular, call for not only a good script, but also great acting talent and a careful timing and diction. Otherwise, the less intelligent viewer will quickly think that it is all meant seriously. That is why Jensen has failed so debauchedly and he now continues on a pathetic begging website, where you can also buy T-shirts.
Arnold Kartsens was smart not to opt for national television too soon with his comedy, but first to practice on the internet for years with his The Karstens Times. There, full of self-mockery as a ‘journalist of the people’, he did very entertaining self-glorification for years.
Without this fanatical preparation, he would never have had great humorists such as Jan Roos and the Hofnar of the House of Representatives Geert Wilders on his side. Was the chairman of the Corona Tribunal Pepijn van Houwelingen never joined. Now it’s time to harvest. Will quality does not deny itself. Watch out: Arjen Lubach, Promenade, VI Today, Marcel van Roosmalen, Youp van ‘t Hek and Dit was het Nieuws will soon all be left behind. Nothing can surpass the hilarious joy of Ongehoord Nederland.
I say: Arnold Karstens for the next New Year’s Eve conference!