Ome Henk (Uncle Henk) is a Dutch comedy series, released in the format of audio plays on CD, but also featured in a series of DVDs and comic strips.
The focus of this series is the very strange life of the eponymous Ome Henk. Henk is a cranky, aggressive and antisocial old man, who lives in the fictional Dutch town of Biggeveen. This town is filled with all sorts of equally antisocial or just plain weird characters that Henk has to interact with.A typical Ome Henk story features Henk encountering a problem, which may or may not be caused by one of his acquaintances. Usually, he tries to solve his problems trough harsh language or violence, which causes most of his stories to end with a brawl. Other moments, stories end with an explosion that often occurs without any reason whatsoever.
Ome Henk also got famous in the Netherlands for the multiple songs featured on his CDs. Usually, these songs are parodies on existing songs that were popular at the time. Examples are "Op de Camping" (Dutch for: At the Campsite), which parodies YMCA's "In the Navy" and Mambo nr. 6, which obviously parodies Lou Bega's Mambo No. 5.
This series was really popular among the Dutch youth in the 1990's and even spawned a line of merchandise, including comic strips, pens and school diaries. The series was set to end with the 12th Ome Henk album entitled Ome Henk Maakt Er Een Eind Aan (Ome Henk ends it all), a swansong album with a compilation of the best sketches and most popular songs, as well as some new material.
However, production continued after a change in writing and production staff. Voice actors for long running characters quit, and new characters were introduced to fill in the gaps.As a result its popularity started fading in the early 2000's, with the franchise now barely being on anyone's radar. Fans of the series think this is because the humor on newer CDs got more vulgar and crude, compared to the earlier installments.
As noted above, the tone shifted from the rather creative parodies and witty humor to outright vulgar. Unusual Euphemisms for swear words which were quite inventive if not inoffensive were replaced for more vulgar - and more straightforward and contemporary - swearing. Old fans left the series behind as a result, yet also partly because they grew up, as the series was mainly aimed at the teen demographic.A younger wave of fans failed to materialize, as the new more adult and vulgar humor was not deemed appropriate for younger audiences. During the early nineties the old material already skirted the edge of acceptability with more conservative parents. The more blatant sexual references and offensive language of the later series proved to be a nail in the coffin.The newer material also failed to find a new following in later years as physical media like CDs started to diminish in favor of streaming services and digital storefronts.
Those growing up from the early to late nineties in the Netherlands might fondly quote from the series if so prompted. While the majority of the fan following was male, even the other half of the human equation will be able to quote from the more popular song parodies, Like Op de camping and Neem een ander in de maling. Among those whose teen lives were affected, the more inventive way of coarse language and quotations can still draw a smile from those in the know, while leaving the rest bewildered if bemused by the colorful expressions which found their genesis on the earlier installments of the series.
Examples of characters Henk has to deal with are:
- Ed van Hooydonk: A self-proclaimed friend to Ome Henk who regularly tries to take the role of the Only Sane Man
- Floris-Jan van Fleppensteyn: A very rich and stuck up neighbor of Henk who can't stand Henk's boorish behavior. He frequently gets beaten up by Henk because of his nagging.
- Harry the antisocial Assistent-Sinterklaas: A crook who likes to pretend he is Sinterklaas in order to con people.
- Ted Teteretet: A neighbor of Henk who annoys everyone by making "te-te-te" sounds all the time.
- Jantje (His name is more or less the Dutch variant of Johnny): A know-it-all boy living in Henk's neighborhood, who likes to visit him, despite being hit every time he calls on Henk being wrong.
- Koos Korswagen: Henk's Corrupt Corporate Executive record manager. He set up Henk's musical contract in such a way that he gets all the money, while Henk gets nothing.
- The Narrator: A cranky narrator who sometimes lampshades the absurdity of it all. He can even get into verbal fights with characters when he dislikes where the story is going.
- Tjabbe Tjipsma: An inventor living in Biggenveen who is hard to understand due to a combination of speaking in a mumbling tone, Techno Babble and a thick accent. A parody of the late real-life Dutch scientist Chriet Titulaer.
Provides the examples of:
- Affectionate Parody: This series is also known for its parodies on several popular songs. The artist behind Ome Henk really knows how to creatively apply new lyrics to existing songs.
- Alliterative Name: Several characters posses this type of name, including Koos Korswagen, Floris-Jan van Fleppensteyn and Tjabbe Tjibsma.
- The Artifact: On the first CD, the aptly named De Spannende Verhalen van Ome Henk (The exciting stories from uncle Henk) Ome Henk is portrayed as a storyteller to the children of the neighbourhood. While this aspect of his character is dropped very early on, he is still asked to tell stories from time to time.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Frequently employed when a non-Dutch or -English language is spoken. Especially noticeable when Henk learns that his CDs are also translated into Japanese by a certain Mr. Karamiko. When he listens them, its just a string of random syllables.
- Asshole Victim:
ATM: Your PIN is incorrect again. Your card will be confiscated. Bye, sucker!
- Confrontations between Ome Henk and Koos Korswagen almost always end with Henk violently beating Koos Korswagen up. Given that Koos Korswagen is a both a very Corrupt Corporate Executive who regularly screws Henk over and a Jerkass in general, the listener's sympathy is probably with Henk in their confrontations.
- During the story "De Televisigigant" (The Television Giant), Ome Henk is conned by a crooked TV salesman into buying an exploding television. In retribution, Ome Henk uses a bulldozer to wreck his entire shop.
- In one episode, Ome Henk encounters an ATM that has been programmed to be an incredible jerk to its user. When the machine refuses to return his card, Ome Henk completely beats the crap out of it, to the point that the narrator thinks the violence is excessive and quickly fades out to the next scene.
- Bad Santa: Harry the anti-social assistent-Sinterklaas impersonates Sinterklaas in his first appearance to sell the presents that the three evil pigs had earlier stolen from the real one. Unfortunately for him, the real Sinterklaas turns out to be a Badass Santa who delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown once he finds out.
- Baleful Polymorph: One story with the Wizard of Salsa Borenco ends with Koos Korswagen transformed into a frog.
- Bigger on the Inside: One of the stories featured a crocodile whose stomach was so big, that it could fit an entire ping pong table. When the recently eaten Harry expresses his surprise about this, Ed, who was there longer, reveals there is also a room featuring a large party, a wine cellar and a hall of 3000 square meters.
- Blue-Collar Warlock: Koos Korswagen has an accountant working for him going by the surname of "van Veen". Van Veen believes he is in actuality the Wizard of Salsa Borenco. Given that he occasionally displays real feats of magic, there might be some truth to his words.
- Catch Phrase: Floris-Jan van Fleppenstein has "rijk zijn valt niet mee." (it's not easy being rich) while Harry has "vijf gulden!!" (five guilders!!), which he keeps even after the Dutch guilder was replaced by the euro.
- City of Adventure: Biggeveen seems to be one. It is the location of multiple UFO landings. Meanwhile, the three little pigs race around in a stolen sports car, robbing and shooting at everyone they can find, while a slime monster from the sewers tries to run a mobile fast food joint. And one of the accountants of the biggest company in town is actually a wizard. To top it off: the Dutch Sesame Street is located in said town, while the forest the Smurfs live in lies beside it.
- Continuity Nod: Whenever a character reappears after a while of absence, someone, usually the narrator, makes a reference to the earlier appearance.
- Continuity Snarl: During the first Crossover with Sesamstraat (the Dutch Sesame Street), it is established it is actually a street in Henk's hometown Biggeveen, with the characters being citizens of Biggeveen. The second crossover makes it a series produced and directed by Koos Korswagen
- Cranky Neighbor: Both Henk and Floris Jan van Fleppensteyn fit this trope, but in different ways. Henk is the stereotypical Grumpy Old Man who dislikes any form of contact, while Floris Jan is a snobbish Rich Jerk who starts complaining about almost every aspect of Henk's behavior. The fun thing is that they are each others neighbors, resulting in many outlandish confrontations.
- Crossover: Ome Henk has done crossovers with Jerry Springer, The Smurfs, Sesamstraat and the Dutch puppet show De Fabeltjeskrant.
- Deadpan Snarker: Almost every character tends to use this trope at one point, making this a World of Snark.
- Deus ex Machina: Parodied and lampshaded heavily. Sometimes, a story ends with a character randomly pulling out what he needs to achieve his goal. At that point, the narrator, or another character, points out the improbability of the first character having said thing in his possession. A good example is this exchange:Ome Henk: Jantje, can you bring me the heavy artillery?
Jantje: I didn't know you even had heavy artillery.
Ome Henk: And now you do!
- Disproportionate Retribution: Happens very frequently. Whenever a character even slightly inconveniences Henk, he mostly reacts to this by beating the "offender" up.
- After Henk is scammed by a TV salesman, he destroys the TV shop with a bulldozer.
- During April Fools day, Jantje pulls a prank on Henk using a wallet attached to a string. Henk reacts to this prank by bearing him up.
- On the same story, Koos Korswagen drops a piano on Ome Henk. Off course, he does not take this lightly and wants to pay him back...by working together with Harry to drop a bomb on Koos' house with an airplane. But since the plane is a piece of junk, it suddenly malfunctions and crash lands, making it explode.
- During the story "Ergernissen" (annoyances), Henk waits at a bus stop for three hours, before a kind bystander tells him the buses aren't riding because of sleet. Henk then beats said bystander up for not telling him so earlier.
- The Dividual:
- Big, Bag and Bog, the three dangerous little pigs are the Twindividual. They all have the same personality, are interchangeable and never apart from each other.
- Hakkie and Takkie, a duo of famous clowns are the Syndividual. Their personalities are very different from each other, with one being dominant and the other being a meek sidekick, but their shtick relies on them being together.
- Drives Like Crazy: Both Ome Henk and Arie de Beuker are very anti-social and dangerous drivers. Ome Henk at one point admits he's been driving without a license for 36 years. During his first actual lesson he ends up totaling the car by trying to jump an open bridge.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Some characters appear as one-off jokes before turning into full characters. An example of the aforementioned Wizard of Salsa Borenco, whom the narrator introduced as the one who would save the day. He refuses to do so and instead announces the next song on the CD. The next CD, named "Ome Henk en de Tovenaar van Salsa Borenco" (Uncle Henk and the Wizard of Salsa Borenco) is named after him, as he plays a rather large role on it.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first two CDs are full of this.
- Henk's voice and personality is different compared to the later CDs. Here, he acts more like an kind elderly man who likes to tell stories to the children of the neighborhood, who still has a case of Hair-Trigger Temper. From the third CD onward, Henk antisocial personality is much more on the forefront.
- The songs on the first CD aren't sung by the characters themselves, but by random people not even featured on later CDs
- The narrators, who are a staple of the series, don't make an appearance during the first two CDs. The same goes for the parody commercials.
- The Eeyore: Henks cousin Willem Deeprienote is this. During his few appearances, his sole role is to annoy Henk by tediously telling him about his latest agonies.
- Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: The song Sambal Bij? note is a parody of this. It features Ome Henk trying to order french fries at the local Chinese restaurant, only for it to escalate into a fight with the restaurant staff, who utilize several weapons seen in eastern martial arts, such as swords and nunchucks.
- The Fair Folk: Fairies appear in one of the stories. After Henk steals a police car and uses it to escape from the police, it suddenly breaks down, leaving him stuck near a forest. When Henk voices his despair about the current situation, he is spoken to by a bunch of fairies, who offer him their help. Henk treats them as nothing more than a bunch of annoying flies and tries to swat them. As a result, the fairies zap him with their wands and cause a large thunderstorm, just to spite Henk.
- Flowery Insults: Whenever Henk voices his displeasure in something, he mostly does so in a creative way. Especially during the early years. Most of these are imaginary diseases, like the "Zultkoppenkoorts" (Idiot's fever) and the "Gifkikkereczeem" (Poisonous frog's eczema).
- Gainax Ending: Some stories end in this. One example happens during a story about Henk trying to steal Fleppensteyn's satellite dish, which ends with an elephant finishing the story by blowing it up. Even the narrator thinks this is getting out of hand. This references the phrase "En toen kwam er een olifant met een hele lange snuit, en die blies zo het verhaaltje uit!" note which an annoyed parent may say to a child who keeps asking to continue a story.Hello, I'm Otto the Elephant. I'm here to blow the story out. Even better, I'm here to blow the story up! -hummmph- *explosion*
- Gratuitous English: Sometimes, characters randomly use English phrases in their speech. The resident DJ, DJ Zapp is the biggest offender, as he frequently uses English in an attempt to sound Totally Radical.
- Hair-Trigger Temper:
- Ome Henk has this very much. Strangely enough, everyone seems to forget this when dealing with him, causing fights to happen.
- Even worse is Henk's rival Arie de Beuker (Arie the basher). Even the normally abrasive Henk acts very subdued in Arie's presence.
- HeelFace Turn: Harrie the antisocial assistent-Sinterklaas is a strange example, as his crooked morality doesn't change, but his relation with Henk does. In his first appearance, he tries to con Henk by pretending to be Sinterklaas. After that, he is portrayed as one of Henk's best friends who is frequently called for aid whenever Henk has a problem with something.
- "The Hero Sucks" Song: While "Hero" is the last thing one should call Ome Henk, the song "Ik zing dit lied voor Ome Henk" (I sing this song for Uncle Henk) is sung by Jantje and basically lists all of his negative traits, like his untidiness, his Hair-Trigger Temper and other general unpleasantness. Naturally, he reacts to this song by starting to beat Jantje up.
- Hypocritical Humor: Sometimes, Henk laments how easily people can be provoked into violence these days, only for him to start a physical fight over something trivial.
- Identity Amnesia: During the story "De Rattevanger van Biggeveen" (The Ratcatcher of Biggeveen), Henk suffers from amnesia after being punched to the head by Arie de Beuker. While amnesiac, he acts very much like a kindly old man, offering drinks and snacks to Jantje and Pietje. Normally, he would keep these for himself.
- Interactive Narrator: As mentioned earlier, the characters sometimes get into arguments with the narrator, when he expresses the story is getting nowhere. The narrators even got together one time, declaring they're going to sing a song of their own, seeing as all the other characters get to sing songs.
- Karma Houdini: The more morally reprehensible characters, such as Ome Henk himself, are almost never punished for their nasty behavior. When they are punished, said punishment doesn't last long, because Status Quo Is God.
- Made of Explodium: Many of the stories end with an explosion happening. Sometimes, even things that should logically never explode actually do. Examples include a croquette, a toy handgrenade and a synthesizer, the latter of which inexplicably has a self-destruct button.
- Misogyny Song: The song "Neem een ander in de maling" (Pull someone else's leg), a parody on Barbie Girl, is about an attractive Gold Digger trying to seduce Ome Henk, only for Henk to sing how women are meant for housekeeping.
- Negative Continuity: Nothing of consequence ever sticks in Ome Henk. Henk or his house getting blown up for the umpteenth time? No matter, he will appear unscathed in the next story. Henk getting arrested and thrown in jail? The next time he appears, he is free again, without any mention of his arrest.
- No Fourth Wall: Characters, the narrators in particular, frequently mention they are actually playing a part in a story. As mentioned above, the narrator ocassionally gets into a fight with other characters about the direction of the story.
- No Indoor Voice: The more antisocial characters display this trope. Examples of this are Ome Henk himself, his arch-enemy Arie the Beuker and Harry the assistant-Sinterklaas.
- Non-Ironic Clown:
- Two recurring characters are the "Famous" Clown duo of Hakkie and Takkie. Their performances usually end up in them fighting each other, as Hakkie abuses Takkie to entertain the audience, which Takkie severely dislikes.
- Another recurring clown character is Popi the Saltless Clown, who, like the name suggests, is known for being very boring. Most of his acts consist of him telling nonsensical stories, which got so boring on one occasion, that his audience resorted to beating him up. Popi is a parody of the Dutch TV character Pipo the Clown, which in its heyday in the 60s, was very popular, but can come of as bland and stale for contemporary audiences, making the Popi parody Truth in Television.
- Out of Focus: Ironically, its Henk himself who gets hit with this trope. It gets so bad at later CDs that you can't even call him a main character anymore.
- Police Are Useless: Ome Henk frequently beats people up, vandalizes other people's property and displays other behavior that would get the average citizen in most developed countries arrested. However, the police rarely appear in this series and when they do, they are generally portrayed as incompentent and/or powerless to stop him.
- Rich Jerk: Fleppensteyn has shades of this. All of his appearances have him flaunt his wealth at least once. However, he is only ever a jerk to Henk, who more or less asks for it with his own reprehensible behavior.
- Slobs vs. Snobs: This is the basis for the conflict between Henk and his neighbor Floris-Jan van Fleppensteyn, with Henk being an unemployed slob who forgoes to do his housekeeping, while Fleppensteyn is a snobbish rich jerk who likes to show off his enormous wealth.
- Spoof Aesop: At the end of the story December, the real Sinterklaas fights against his Evil Counterpart Harrie, the Assistant-Sinterklaas. The Narrator tries to end the story on a completely unrelated aesop, which can be roughly translated to "If the days become shorter, always flap your currants in the pan".
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: In addition to Henk getting Out of Focus, several other characters are featured more prominently after he fades from focus. A good example is Appie Aso note , a very loud resident of Amsterdam who more or less embodies the Freestate Amsterdam trope, singing about drugs and other related subjects.
- Stinger: A few of the CDs have one in the form of a hidden track with a final joke after the last listed song or sketch.
- Stuff Blowing Up: A staple of the series. A large amount of stories end with everything blowing up. Sometimes without legitimate reason.
- Take That!: The story "Ome Henk kijkt TV" (Uncle Henk watches TV) and song "Dombo TV" (Dumbo TV) take a vicious jab at the superficiality of television programming. The former references many types of TV-shows, referencing how they just try to fill time by talking aimlessly, while the latter specifically targets infomercials and the expensive and, sometimes, useless stuff they try to sell people.
- Too Dumb to Live: Several explosions happens because the characters lack common sense. A good example is trying to find a gas leak in a dark room using a lighter as a light source.
- The Unintelligible: Tjabbe Tjibsma is this in his first proper appearance, which features him mumbling with a heavy accent, while his female assistant desperately tries to tell him to properly articulate and speak in the microphone. His later appearances avert this trope. He still speaks in a heavy accent, but can be understood.
- Verbal Tic: Several characters, each in their own way.
- Ed van Hooydonk has a weird way of intonation, always ending his sentences in an ascending tone.
- Ted Tettettettet is continually making "te-te-te" sounds, to everyone's annoyance.
- Weirdness Magnet: Ome Henk himself seems to be this. A good example is when aliens from outer space land in his garden and plan to crown him king of their planet.
- We Want Our Jerk Back: During the story "De Rattevanger van Biggeveen" (The Ratcatcher of Biggeveen), Henk suffers from amnesia after being punched to the head by Arie de Beuker. While amnesiac, he acts very much like a kindly old man. Strangely enough, Jantje and Pietje say they actually prefer the real Henk, who is pretty much an antisocial Grumpy Old Man with the tendency to even beat up children. "Luckily" for them, Henk is cured from his amnesia by the end of the story.
- World of Ham: Subtlety is not something you'd find on this series. Every character, even the more subdued ones, is a Large Ham.
- Would Hurt a Child: Ome Henk frequently hits Jantje when the latter is a smartass.
- Writing Around Trademarks: During the crossover with the Smurfs, the word Smurf and any other name related to said franchise is never uttered. The Smurfs are called the "little blue housing men", referring to the Dutch Smurf House fad of the 90's, which was a series of CDs featuring Smurfs singing to the tune of popular house songs. Gargamel is merely called the "greatest enemy of the blue housing men", with the narrator unsuccessfully trying to guess his real name.