Youp was born and raised in the Gooi, an upper-class region to the southeast of Amsterdam. He was one of the founding members of Cabaret NAR (Cabaret Jester). In the early 1980s Cabaret NAR success declined and Youp moved on as a solo artist.
His big break came in 1983 on KRO's "De alles is anders-show". His energetic performance made him a household name overnight.
In his 1989 end-of-year show he ridiculed Buckler, a low-alcohol beer brewed by Heineken, so effectively, sales plummeted and the brand was eventually withdrawn from the market. Youp has often cited this as the best joke in his career and has subsequently referred to it in all his retrospective shows.
Het zelfmoordcommando (The suicide command) (2005)
De schreeuwstorm (The shoutstorm, a wordplay on the Dutch "sneeuwstorm", meaning "snowstorm", and "schreeuwen", meaning "shouting") (2006)
Troost (Comfort, Old-Year's-Show) (2008)
Omdat de nacht (Because the night) (2009)
De tweede viool (The second violin, Old-Year's-Show) (2011)
Youp van 't Hek has worked with a changing group of musicians to supply the music to the songs in his shows. The constant factor in his musical backup during almost his entire career has been Ton Scherpenzeel (keyboardist of Kayak), who has composed almost all of his songs. In most of his shows he also worked with multi-instrumentalist Rens van der Zalm. The music to Youp's songs is mostly played on piano, accordion, violin and acoustic guitar, which reflects Youp's preference for classical music. One example of this is his rendition of the song Flappie, ostensibly about a Christmas he experienced in 1961.
Columns and books
Youp has written columns on sports and later on general topics for NRC Handelsblad since 1988. Several collections of these columns have been published by Thomas Rap (nl) publishing. This company was founded by a friend of Youp, and has printed the texts of Van 't Hek's shows from the very first, unsuccessful days, when publishing them seemed a waste of money. Because of this, Youp never switched publishers. A list of the titles of his books that do not contain the texts of his shows:
Niks spel, knikkers ("Not the game, the marbles", it's the opposite of the saying: "It's not about the marbles, it's about the game", meaning that playing is more important than winning) (1989)
Het hemd van de leeuw ("The undershirt of the lion", reference to a Dutch football song for their national team) (1990)
Sportgek (Mad about sports) (1990)
Floppie, Yourie en andere helden (Floppie, Yourie and other heroes) (1992)
Eerst de man, dan de bal (First the player, then the ball) (1993)
De selectie ("The selection"/"The squad", a compilation of his best sports columns) (1997)
Amah hoela (wordplay on Amah, a domestic servant, and a Dutch expression "Amehoela" or "Aan m'n hoela", meaning "no way" or "my ass") (1994)
Ik schreeuwlelijk (I bigmouth, with bigmouth used as a verb) (1995)
En het bleef nog lang onrustig in mijn hoofd (And my mind remained restless for a long time) (1996)
Hartjeuk en zieleczeem (Hartitch and souleczema) (2004)
Het leven is wél leuk (Life IS fun, with the emphasis of denying that "Life sucks") (2005)
Oelikoeli en andere goden ("Oelikoeli and other gods", Oelikoeli is a god that Youp made up. Youp is its only believer, because he says that as soon as a god has more than one believer, the believers start fighting each other) (2006)
Youp is leuk? ("Youp is fun?", a compilation of his best columns) (2007)
Iedereen is eigenaar van iets (Everybody is the owner of something) (2007)
Bacteriën moeten ook leven (Bacterias have to live too) (2008)
Omdat jij mijn beste vriend bent (Because you're my best friend) (2009)