A Bit Of Russian Humor To Provide Perspective

As an American, I am envious of the Russian sense of humor that culminates in the ubiquitous anecdote.  No matter what the event or the occasion, the anecdote is up to the task.  It is the voice of the people, coming through a barrage of political slogans, twisted phrases and distorted language.  I believe that the Russian anecdote is a release, a coping mechanism for all the struggles and problems this great nation has had to endure.

A digression with a quick return to our topic:  We often forget how different Russians and Americans are.   Russia is largely a misogynistic culture, although there have been many strong women throughout Russian history and quite a number of “superfluous men”.  I remember a UCLA professor telling me I was going to take a men’s exam rather than a women’s exam.  At the time I was shocked, but realized later that such an attitude is common.  Anti-women anecdotes still predominate.  Such an anecdote could never be printed in an American paper:

At the zoo, a little girl asks her mother:

–Mommy, why is that goat looking off in the distance with such a sad expression?

–And, do you often see your Daddy smile?  That’s just the way men’s lives are.

Putin has been characterized as a swaggering bully.  He is a former light-weight champion.  To the White House, he has been responsible for a number of problems and there is an anecdote for that:

At the White House:  –Did you hear the latest?  Obama’s Press Secretary is pregnant.  Do you know who was responsible?

–I can guess.  It must be Putin, since he’s responsible for everything else!

And about the Ukrainian situation:

A lady from Israel is talking to her friend from the Ukraine:

–So, what’s been happening over there?

–We’re having a little war with Russia.

–Have you had any losses?

–Just a few things:  the Crimea, a couple of regions, some airplanes, some helicopters, some weapons and some of our people.

–And what have the Russians lost?

–Would you believe it?  They haven’t arrived yet!

And, of course, there is the Russian economy.  We look at two different perspectives:

The reality of the Russian economy:  The director of a major business was given the gift of a hen that could lay golden eggs.  Within a month, the business failed to make a profit.

–My dear Holmes, what do you make of the fact that in one year the ruble has dropped to half it’s value, while the euro has dropped to a fourth of it’s value?

–Elementary, my dear Watson.  The given fact indicates that European help is twice as terrifying as it’s sanctions.

And there is the medical profession.  Two anecdotes:

–Russian medicine is very simple.  Whatever illness you go into the hospital with, you die from.

–Why don’t we fall off the earth when it rotates on its axis?

–We’re stuck to the hospitals.

And, lastly, the all embracing topic of alcoholism:

–Hello!  I would like to buy some alcohol on credit.

–Judging by the color of your face, I would say you have an excellent credit history!

–Do you have a dream?

–I do.

–Please tell me what it is.

–It’s to give up drinking.

–So, give it up!

–And then, how could I live without a dream?

Indeed!  How can anyone live without a dream?

And Some More Russian Humor

As President Vladimir Putin has become more intolerant of criticism and more autocratic in tone, Russian humor has risen to the occasion.  Putin, who was once an object of respect, even reverence, has become the subject of a slew of anecdotes and jokes.  Here are some samples:

1.  “Next year, things will get better”, said Putin.  “We’re so happy for you”, said the Russian people.

2.  Putin has a great love for animals:

He flies with the vultures.

He kisses the tigers.

But he takes the jackals and swine straight into the Kremlin.

3.  Putin declared that there is no reason for increasing costs, because the costs will increase without any reason.

4.  “Vladimir Vladimirovich, what do you plan to do about the meteorite?”

“It already fell!”

5.  Putin planned to visit Antarctica and the local penguins were in a panic.  However, they understood that no matter what, they would have to follow the leader of the flock.

6.  “Putin is our sun; you cannot look at him without tears.”

7.  “Vladimir Vladimirovich, you said this isn’t the same as 1937(a period of heightened Stalinist oppression).  What is the difference?”

” Well, in 1937, people weren’t put in prison for dancing in churches.”

I couldn’t resist posting the following pictures of Russian leaders from a nesting doll.

Mikhail Gorbachev

Mikhail Gorbachev

Yurij Andropov

Yurii Andropov

Leonid Brezhnev

Leonid Brezhnev

Joseph Stalin

Joseph Stalin

Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Lenin

When France Meets Russia, It’s A Laughing Matter

Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered famous French actor Gerard Depardieu a Russian passport.  This was in response to the actor’s rage over the French government’s plan to raise taxes for those with high incomes.  The French actor called Russia a great democracy, and went to Mordovia, his new homeland.  Depardieu is scheduled to play Rasputin in an upcoming film.  Among Russians, the Frenchman’s arrival produced a spate of anecdotes and much laughter.  I offer some samples:

1.  Last year I asked Santa Claus to make Gerard Depardieu my compatriot.  Who knew that the old man would take me seriously?

2.  Depardieu began to think a 75% French tax wasn’t so bad after what he had to pay for his hotel in Sochi and for skiing in the Red Field.

3.  “Ivan, did you hear that the Frenchman Depardieu has arrived?”  ”  200 years ago the  French stuck in their noses and learned there was absolutely nothing here.”

4.  “Mr. President,  why did you give Depardieu a Russian passport?  After all, he’s a Frenchman!”  “What do you mean he’s a Frenchman?  He’s a genuine ‘new Russian’.”(a very rich Russian)

5.  Last year there was a flood of protests concerning immigrants.  “As if we didn’t have enough Tadzhiks, Uzbeks and people from Azerbaijan.  Now, the French are pushing through.  What do they think, that Moscow is made of rubber?”

6.  Russian nationalists have a new slogan:  “Suitcase, railway station, France!”

7.  Russian patriots will walk in T-shirts embroidered with the Smolensk highway, which Napoleon used to escape.  They will hold up a road sign:  Mister Depardieu, France 2800 kilometers.