Youp van ‘t Hek: The big C

Why Youp van ‘t Hek won’t grow an anti-prostate cancer moustache and coincidence doesn’t exist

All around me men are growing a moustache against prostate cancer this month. November is prostate cancer month. I’m not growing one. Does that mean I’m in favour of prostate cancer? Maybe.

I grew up in a time when people were afraid to say the word.

‘It’s the big C,’ my mother said when someone we knew was stricken by the disease which then more than now was a death sentence. She whispered because she didn’t want us children to hear. Of course, we did hear because she was whispering and it was sure to be something interesting. Had she said it out loud we wouldn’t have paid any attention at all.

Last week the papers carried the news that an administrator of a children’s cancer charity had absconded with the funds, some 600,000 euros. The man’s initials were De K. (cancer in Dutch is kanker, DN). He cheated a cancer charity and his name is De K. Did he grow a moustache as well?

What makes a person steal money from bald chemo kids? I can understand conning a bank or doing your employer out of a few euros. After all, that’s what Rijkman Groenink did.


But money destined for children with cancer? I’m afraid he’ll get away with it, with a little help from Moszko who’s sure to find a procedural error somewhere. I find myself experiencing a good old-fashioned knee-jerk reaction. Let’s put him through chemo until he vomits his guts out.

I hope you’re not putting that in your column, a mild-mannered friend of mine said. I promised I wouldn’t.

I changed my mind on Thursday. I went to a remembrance service for Will van Kralingen, the actress who died from cancer last week, at a theatre in Leiden. She was harassed and bullied by cancer for the last twenty years and finally succumbed. There were speeches. It was clear she was more than just a very good actress. She was also a wonderful woman and a fully certified mum with a great sense of humour.

Listening to those speeches I found myself willing to grow a ten-metre long beard if it would have helped give back their radiant mother to her sons. The stage was covered in a thousand red roses.

It was the same stage I would be on the same night to tell my jokes. The combination of tears and laughter on the same stage seemed fitting somehow.


Outside the theatre two sad looking men, huge telephoto lenses resting on big paunches, were waiting for us. They had come to take pictures for the gossip press of the people who had come to cry. People have a right to know.

I couldn’t help but think of one of their colleagues who recently died of prostate cancer.

I didn’t look up to see if they had grown their moustaches in his honour. I make it a point never to look at these losers.

Badr, the musical

That evening, I wondered if this same stage will ever see a production of Badr, the musical. Why not? Written by gossip monger Evert Santegoeds, based on a best-seller by Leon de Winter. Evert and a man called Yves have been forming a cordon amicable around the plagued kick boxer, who got himself arrested yet again.

It wasn’t just because the judge had told him keep away from restaurants and bars but also because he wasn’t supposed to contact these two. They still had to give evidence. They said they didn’t know. You can’t know everything. I have said for years that anyone who talks to Evert should be arrested forthwith but Moszko says it can’t be done.

Meanwhile Badr is behind bars for entering a bar. The name of the bar? Moustache. There is no such thing as coincidence.


Youp van ‘t Hek is one of the Netherlands’ best loved comedians and writers.

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