The family of Jan Beuving (39) will have to work hard for a pleasant Sinterklaas evening. The comedian cannot accept that ‘communication’ rhymes with ‘tail division’. He explains it in his third solo show remainder: with the first word the stress is on the beginning, so rhyming must be done on both the first and second syllable. Beuving demonstrates it in a wonderful song full of rhyme to ‘long division’. An innkeeper getting strangled? Then there is ‘valuation’. A verse about Saint Nicholas teaches us the word ‘beard caress’.
The song is characteristic of Beuving’s style: witty, original, linguistic virtuoso. He became known as the ‘math comedian’ who merged his two educations into one profession. And with success, he won the Neerlands Hoop and several prizes for his song lyrics. Although still a man of theory and science, in his third solo Beuving moves away from his image and pose as a teacher. Sometimes literally, for example when he emphatically ventures into a small dance after a song. Another signal: the somewhat caricatural checked blouse has been replaced by a hipper one.
Truth beyond facts
remainder is a tightly structured performance about finding truths outside of the facts. What is real and what is fake? And what remains after the most thorough analytical methods? Beuving teaches us: there is always a remainder, just look at long division. In remainder explains to Beuving what that ‘rest’ entails for him. It results in melancholic stories about faith and amateur football, two important subjects in his life.
Beuving is a great lyricist. He evokes beautiful and strong images especially in his songs. For example, about Jamal, a boy from his former football team, to whom you could trust a ball.
Beuving is in remainder more personal than in his previous performances, but does not have the maximum effect. His frankness, for example about the role of religion in a secular existence, is sometimes hard to grasp. “Rhyme can disguise a lot”, says Beuving himself in a nice joke about the ‘Dansen-met Janssen’ slogan and he proves himself right. Even in songs full of archaic words and complex sentences, he always finds a (rhymed) way out, but the emotional power of the lyrics sometimes suffers. Beuving’s story often remains somewhat elusive.
Dead / scrap
This does not alter the fact that remainder is a decent representation. It’s nice that Beuving makes no secret of whose shoulders he rests on. A highlight is a tasty story about Jeroen van Merwijk and his song ‘Partycentrum Waselink in Winterswijk’. Entirely in the style of the late comedian, Beuving pays tribute to him in a great song: ‘If only I were dead, no longer riveted to this earthly scrap. Jeroen van Merwijk waits there and he says not without pleasure: see God sitting there, he is almost as good as I am.’
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of September 21, 2022