Russian jokes

Russian jokes

Russian jokes ( _ru. анекдо́ты (transcribed anekdoty), literally anecdotes) the most popular form of Russian humour, are short fictional stories or dialogues with a punch line.

Russian joke culture features a series of categories with fixed and highly familiar settings and characters. Surprising effects are achieved by an endless variety of plots. Russians love jokes on topics found everywhere in the world, be it sex, politics, spouse relations, or mothers-in-law. This article discusses Russian joke subjects that are peculiar to Russian or Soviet culture.

Every category has a host of untranslatable jokes that rely on linguistic puns, wordplay, and Russian's vocabulary of foul language. Below, (L) marks jokes whose humor value "critically" depends on untranslatable features of the Russian language.

A huge category is Russian political jokes.


Named characters

Standartenführer Stirlitz

Standartenführer Stirlitz, alias Colonel Isayev is a character from the Soviet TV series “Seventeen Moments of Spring” (“Семнадцать мгновений весны”, based on a novel by Yulian Semyonov) played by the popular actor Vyacheslav Tikhonov about a fictional Soviet intelligence officer who infiltrates Nazi Germany. Stirlitz interacts with Nazi officials Walther Schellenberg, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Martin Bormann, Heinrich Müller. In the jokes he interacts with them as well as with fictional female radio operator Kat, pastor Schlagg, professor Pleischner and other characters in the series. Usually two-liners spoofing the solemn style of the original voice-overs, the plot is resolved in grotesque plays on words or in dumb parodies of overly-smart narrow escapes and superlogical trains of thought of the "original" Stirlitz.

*The words "Stirlitz is a moron!" were chalked on the wall of the Reichschancellery. The entire Nazi party snickered about it; only Stirlitz knew its true meaning: he had been awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union.
*Stirlitz was walking through the forest when he saw two eyes staring at him in the darkness. "An owl," thought Stirlitz. "You're an owl yourself!" thought Müller.
*Stirlitz opened a door. The lights went on. Stirlitz closed the door. The lights went out. Stirlitz opened the door again. The light went back on. Stirlitz closed the door. The light went out again. "It's a fridge," concluded Stirlitz.
*Stirlitz wakes up to find out he has been arrested. "Who got me? Which name should I use?" - he wonders. - "Let's see. If they wear black uniforms, I'll say I'm Standartenführer Stirlitz. If they wear green uniforms, I'm Colonel Isayev". The door opens and a policeman in a blue uniform comes in saying: "You really should ease up on vodka, Comrade Tikhonov!"

Poruchik Rzhevsky

Poruchik (lieutenant) Rzhevsky is a cavalry (hussar) officer. In the aristocratic setting of high-society balls and 19th century social sophistication, Rzhevsky, famous for brisk but not very smart remarks, keeps ridiculing the decorum with his vulgarities. In the jokes, he's often seen interacting with characters from the novel "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy. The name is borrowed from a character from a popular 1960s comedy, "Hussar Ballad" (Russian - "Гусарская баллада"), bearing little in common with the folklore hero. Some researchers point out that many jokes of this kind are versions of 19th century Russian army jokes, and the film contributed to a new series of jokes about Rzhevsky. Emil Draitser, "Making War, Not Love: Gender and Sexuality in Russian Humor" (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.) ISBN 0312221290, [ p.120] — [ a review] in "Journal of Folklore Research"]

Armen Oganezov, film director of the first legal Russian erotic film studio Eros-Film shot a film, "Sex in Russia. Hussar's intertainments-1" (2007) based on jokes about poruchik Rzhevsky. [ [ The web site of the film "Sex in Russia. Hussar's intertainments-1"] ]

There are a number of typical settings in this series.

*Rzhevsky's (and supposedly all hussars') nonchalant attitude to love and sex.
**Poruchik Rzhevsky is putting his riding boots on and is about to take leave of a charming "demoiselle" he had met the previous evening. "Mon cher" Poruchik," intones the siren, "are you not forgetting about the money?" Rzhevsky turns to her and says proudly: "Hussars never take money!" — The latter expression ("Gusary deneg ne berut!") has become a Russian catch phrase. [D. Kalinina (2007) "Gusary Deneg Ne Berut" ISBN 569919696X]

He also gives his best advise to other Russian gentlemen on love matters. Poruchik believes that the most straightforward approach is the most effective one.
*Kniaz Andrei Bolkonski asks Poruchik Rzhevsky: "Tell me, Poruchik, how did you come to be so good with the ladies? What is your secret?" - "It's quite "simplement", "mon Prince", quite "simplement". I just come over and say: 'Madame, may I stick it into you?'" - "But Poruchik, you'll get slapped in the face for that!" - "Oui", you may be slapped in, but many of them got sticked in!"

*A series of jokes in which Rzhevsky wants to surprise the high society with a witticism, but messes up.
** Poruchik Rzhevsky asks his aide: "Stepan, there is a grand ball tonight. Got any new puns for me to tell there?" — "Sure, sir, how about this rhyme: 'Adam had Eve... right on the eve... of their very last day in the Eden...'" — "That's a good one!". Later, at the ball: "Messieurs", "messieurs"! My Stepan taught me a funny "chanson ridicule": 'Adam boinked Eve at dawn...' Pardon, not like that... 'Adam and Eve f--- through the night ...' Er... Hell, basically they f---, but it was "absolutement" splendid in verse!"

*A series of jokes is based on a paradox of vulgarity within the "high society" setting.
**Natasha Rostova has her first ball and dances with Pierre Bezukhov: "Pierre, isn't that grease on your collar?"/"Oh my, how could I miss such a terrible flaw in my costume, I'm totally destroyed" (walks away). Then she dances with Kniaz Bolkonsky: "Andrew, isn't there a dip of sauce on your tunic?"/ (Bolkonsky faints). Finally she's dancing with Rzhevsky: "Poruchik, your boots are all covered in mud!"/"It's not mud, it's shit. Don't worry, "mademoiselle", it'll fall off once it dries up."

*While successful narration of quite a few Russian jokes heavily depends on using sexual vulgarities ("Russian mat"), Rzhevsky, with all his vulgarity does not use really heavy "mat". One of his most favorite words is "arse" (which is considered rather mild among Russian vulgarities), and there is a series of jokes where Rzhevsky answers "arse" to some innocent question. (In fact it is typical of poruchik Rzhevsky to make anti-romantic comments in the most romantic situations. )
**Poruchik Rzevsky and Natasha Rostova are riding each other on the countryside. "Poruchik, what a beautiful meadow! Guess what I see there?" — "Ass, "mademoiselle"?" — "Ouch, poruchik! I see chamomiles!" (Chamomiles are Russian cliche folk flowers) — "How romantic, "mademoiselle"! An ass amid chamomiles!..":The essence of this Rzhevsky's peculiarity is captured in the following meta-joke.:*Rzevsky narrates his latest adventure to his hussar comrades. "...So I am riding through this dark wood and suddenly see a wide, white..." — Hussars, all together: "...arse!" — "Of course not! A glade full of chamomiles! And right in the middle there is a beautiful white..." — Hussars encore: "...arse!" — "How vulgar of you! A mansion! So I open the door and guess what I see?" — Hussars, encore: "An arse!" — Poruchik, genuinely surprised: "How did you guess? Did I tell this story before?":This topic is culminated in the following joke, sometimes called "the ultimate hussar joke".:*Countess Maria Bolkonskaya celebrates her 50th anniversary, the whole local hussar regiment is invited, and the countess boasts about her presents. "Cornet Obolensky presented me a lovely set of 50 Chinese fragrant candles. I loved them so much that I immediately stuck them into 7 seven-branch candlesticks you see on the table. Quite fortunate numbers! Unfortunately there is one candle left, and I don't know where to stick it..." — The whole hussar regiment takes a deep breath... And the hussar colonel barks out: "Hussars, not a word!!!" (The gist of the joke is that every Russian adult male knows what hussars wanted to say: "Stick it into your ass!"):And over variant of this joke, even more popular, ends as follow: Rzhevsky springs up and screams out: "Hussars, I beg of you, no word about arse!!!". So phrase "Hussars, not a word!!!" ("Гусары, молчать!") is often used as an answer to not bright and thus provocative question.


Rabinovich, is an archetypal Russian Jew. He is a crafty type, hates the Soviet government, often too smart for his own good and is sometimes portrayed as an "otkaznik" (refusenik): someone who is refused permission to emigrate to Israel.

*Rabinovich fills out a job application form. The official is skeptical: "You stated that you don't have any relatives abroad, but you do have a brother in Israel." / "Yes, but "he" isn't abroad, I am abroad!"

* Seeing a pompous and lavish burial of a member of the Politburo, Rabinovich sadly shakes his head: "What a waste! I could have buried the whole Politburo with this kind of money!"

* Rabinovich calls Pamyat headquarters, speaking with a characteristic accent: "Tell me, is it true that Jews sold Russia?"/ "Yes, of course it is true, you Jewish snout!"/ "Oh good! Could you please tell me where I should go to get my share?"

This following example explains Vladimir Putin's remark about "comrade wolf" in relation to the politics of the United States [ [ "Putin takes swipe at hungry America's 'Comrade Wolf'"] , "Times Online", May 10, 2006 ] that many non-Russians found cryptic:

* Rabinovich is walking through the forest with a sheep, when both of them stumble into a pit. A few minutes later, a wolf also falls into the pit. The sheep gets nervous and starts bleating. "What's with all the "baaahh, baaahh"?" Rabinovich asks, "Comrade wolf knows whom to eat."


Vovochka is the Russian equivalent of Little Johnny. He interacts with his school teacher, Marivanna, a spoken shortened form of Maria Ivanovna, a stereotypical Russian name. "Vovochka" is a diminutive form of Vladimir, creating the "little boy" effect. His fellow students bear similarly diminutive names. This "little boy" name is used in contrast with Vovochka's wisecracking, adult, often obscene statements.

*In biology class, the teacher draws a cucumber on the board: "Children, could someone tell me what this is?" Vovochka raises his hand: "It's a dick, Marivanna!" Maria Ivanovna bursts into tears and runs out. In a minute the principal bursts in: "All right, what did you do now? It's something new every day! Yesterday you break a window, and today...," he looks around, "...and today you draw a dick on the blackboard?"
* The teacher asks the class to produce a word that starts with the letter "A"; Vovochka happily raises his hand and says "Asshole!" The teacher, shocked, responds "For shame! There's no such word!" "That's strange," says Vovochka, "the asshole exists, but the word doesn't!"
*Since the election of Vladimir Putin, all jokes about Vovochka are considered political. ("NB: this particular witticism can be considered a Vovochka meta-joke.")


Vasily Ivanovich Chapayev (Russian: Василий Иванович Чапаев), a Red Army hero of the Russian Civil War, in the rank of Division Commander, was featured in a hugely popular 1934 biopic. Other characters from the biopic like his aide-de-camp Petka (Peter - Петька), Anka The Machine-Gunner (Anna - Анка Пулемётчица), and political commissar Furmanov, all based on real people, are also featured in the jokes. Most common topics are about their fight with the monarchist White Army, Chapayev's futile attempts to enroll into the Frunze Military Academy, and the circumstances of his death; Officially and in the book, he was machine-gunned by the Whites while attempting to flee across the Ural River after a lost battle.

*"I flunked again, Petka. The question was about Caesar , and I told them it's a stallion from the 7th cavalry squadron." / "Oh, sorry about that, Vasily Ivanovich, I had him moved to the 6th!"

*Chapayev, Petka and Anka, in hiding from the Whites, are "plastoon"-style crawling across a field, first Anka, then Petka and Chapayev last. Petka says to Anka, "Anka, you lied about your proletarian descent! Your mother must have been a ballerina -- your legs are so fine!" Chapayev responds, "And your father, Petka, must have been a plowman: you are leaving such a deep furrow!"

*On the occasion of an anniversary of the October Revolution, Furmanov gives a political lecture to the rank and file: "...And now we are on our glorious way to the shining horizons of Communism!" / "How did it go?", Chapayev asks Petka afterwards. "Exciting!... But unclear. What the hell is a horizon?" / "See Petka, it is a line you may see far away in the steppe when the weather is good. And it's a tricky one -- no matter how long you ride towards it, you'll never reach it. You'll only wear down your horse." (Many other folk characters have starred in this joke as well, including Rabinovich.)

*A teacher learns that Vovochka's grandfather met Chapayev during the Russian Civil War. She asks him to come to the class on the eve of the anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution and tell the kids about his memories. The old man reluctantly agrees. Kids meet him with excitement: "Say, gramps, did you see Chapayev with your own eyes?" / "Indeed I did. There I was, on the bank of the Ural river, a Maxim machine gun firmly in my hands. Suddenly I see someone swimming across the river! His Nobleness orders me, fire Ivan, fire! Well, kids, that was the last I ever saw of Chapayev!"

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson

A number of jokes involve characters from the famous novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about the private detective Sherlock Holmes and his friend Dr. Watson. The jokes appeared and became popular soon after the screen versions of several of those stories came out on Soviet TV in late 1970s - mid-1980s. In all those movies the characters were brilliantly played by the same actors - Vasiliy Livanov (as Sherlock Holmes) and Vitaly Solomin (as Dr. Watson). Quotes from these films are usually included in the jokes ("Элементарно, Ватсон!" - "Elementary, my dear Watson!"). The narrator of such a joke usually tries to mimic the unique voice of Vasily Livanov. The standard plot of these jokes is a short dialog where Watson naïvely wonders about something and Holmes finds a "logical" explanation to the phenomenon in question. Occasionally the jokes also include other characters - Mrs. Hudson, the landlady of Holmes's residence on Baker Street, or Sir Henry and his butler Barrymore from The Hound of the Baskervilles.

* Holmes and Watson went camping. After they went to bed, in the middle of the night Holmes wakes his friend up and asks: "Tell me, Watson, what does this starry sky tell you?" -- "It tells me that the weather is going to be nice in the morning" -- "And to me it tells that someone has stolen our bloody tent!".


Some older jokes involve Fantômas, a fictional criminal and master of disguise from a French detective series Fantômas, films based on which were once wildly popular in Russia. His archenemy is Inspector Juve, charged with catching him. Fantômas' talent for disguise is usually the focus of the joke, allowing for jokes featuring all sorts of other characters:
* (From the days of Golda Meir) Fantômas sneaks into Mao Zedong's private chamber as the latter is on his deathbed, and takes off his mask. "Well, Petka, fate sure does have a way of scattering friends all over the world, doesn't it?", says Mao. "Ah, if you only knew, Vasily Ivanovich," responds Fantômas, "what our Anka has been up to in Israel!"

Vanka and Manka

Vanka and Manka (i.e., Ivan and Mariya) are a rustic couple with typically Russian names, visiting a large city and confronted with urban civilization.

*Vanka and Manka came to Moscow and went to a restaurant. Noticing that they were horribly out of fashion, they rush into a restroom, Manka cuts a deep decollete, using the cut fabric to hack bell-bottoms for Vanka's pants. Fixed up, they order lunch. The orchestra plays soft music. Manka purrs moodily: "My breast is on fire from Tchaikovsky's music!" Vanka looks up: "Dummy, take your tit out of your borsch!"

New Russians

New Russians, i.e. the "nouveau-riche", arrogant and poorly educated post-perestroika businessmen and gangsters, are a new and very popular category of characters in contemporary Russian jokes. A common plot is the interaction of a New Russian in his archetypal Mercedes S600 with a regular Russian in his modest Soviet-era Zaporozhets after having had a car accident. The New Russian is often a violent criminal or at least speaks criminal argot, with a number of neologisms (or common words with skewed meaning) typical among New Russians. In a way, these anecdotes are a continuation of the Soviet-era series about Georgians, who were then depicted as extremely wealthy. The physical appearance of the New Russians is often that of overweight men with short haircut, thick gold chains and crimson jackets, with their fingers in the horns gesture, riding the "600 Merc" and showing off their wealth.

*"Daddy, all my schoolmates are riding bus, and I am the black sheep in this 600 Merc." / "No worries, son. I'll buy you a bus, and you'll ride like everyone else!"
*"Look at my new tie," says a New Russian to his colleague. "I bought it for 500 dollars in the store over there." "You got yourself conned," says the other. "You could have paid "twice as much" for the same one just across the street!"
*A new Russian and an old man lay injured side-by-side in an emergency room::— How did you get here, old fella?:— I had an old Zaporozhets car, and I set the war-trophy Messerschmitt jet engine on it. While driving on a highway, I saw a Ferrari ahead and tried to overtake it. The speed was too high and I crashed myself into a tree. And how did you get here?:— I was driving my Ferrari when I saw a Zaporozhets overtaking me. I concluded, that my car might be broken and that it was actually standing still. So I opened the door and walked out...


Jokes set in the animal kingdom also feature stereotypes, such as the violent Wolf, the sneaky (female) Fox, the cocky coward Hare, the strong, simple-minded Bear, the multi-dimensional Hedgehog and the king of animal kingdom Lion. In the Russian language all objects, animate and inanimate, have a (grammatical) gender - masculine, feminine, or neutal. The reader should assume that the Wolf, the Bear, the Hare, Lion and the Hedgehog are males, whereas the Fox is a female.

* The Bear, the Wolf, the Hare and the Fox are playing cards. The Bear warns, shuffling: "No cheating! If I catch anyone cheating, I'll punch this person right in her smug red-furred face!"
* "If something has spilled from somewhere, then that must mean that something has poured into somewhere else," the Drunken Hedgehog mused philosophically when the campers quarrelled over a broken bottle. ("Drunken hedgehog" is a kind of multipurpose Russian cliché.)

Animals in Russian jokes are and were very well aware of politics in the realm of humans.

*A bunch of animals, including a Rooster are in prison and brag to each other what they are there for. The Rooster doesn't take part in this. Someone asks: "And what are you in for?" - "I am not talking to you, criminals. I am a political prisoner!" - "How come?" - "I pecked a Young Pioneer in the ass!"

Often animal jokes are in fact fables, i.e., their punchline is (or eventually becomes) a kind of a maxim.

*The Hare runs like crazy through a forest and meets the Wolf. The Wolf asks: "What's the matter? Why such haste?" "The camels there are caught and shod! " The Wolf says: "You're not a camel!" "When you are caught and shod, go then and try to prove them afterwards that you're not a camel! " (This joke is the origin of the popular Russian saying "try to prove you are not a camel" in the sense "try to prove postfactum that you did not do anything wrong".)

The Golden Fish

of the joke.
*An American, a Frenchman and a Russian are alone on an uninhabited island. They catch fish for food and suddenly catch a Golden Fish, who promises to fulfill one wish for each for his own freedom:
The American: "A million dollars and to go back home!"
The Frenchman: "Three beautiful women and to go back home!"
The Russian: "Tsk, and just when we were getting on like a house on fire... Three crates of vodka and the two fellas back!"
**Side Note: This joke is a play on the fact that in Russia it is believed that three is the optimal number of people for drinking. This in turn goes back to when in the Soviet Union a bottle of vodka cost 2 roubles 87 kopecks, 3 R. being a convenient price for three men to buy a bottle and have 13 k. left for a snack, (The classic was a pack of processed cheese Druzhba, with that exact price). Therefore a natural company is 3, each contributing 1 rouble. This procedure was dubbed "to figure it out for the three (persons)" ( _ru. сообразить на троих; "soobrazit' na troikh"). A good deal of Soviet folklore is based on this interpretation of the "magic of the number 3".

A similar type of joke involves a wish-granting genie, the main difference being that in the case of the Gold Fish the Fisherman suffers from his own stupidity or greed, while genies are known for ingeniously twisting an interpretation of the wish to fool the grantee.

Crocodile Gena and Cheburashka

Crocodile Gena and Cheburashka are famous characters from a 1965 story by Eduard Uspensky. Cheburaskha is often portrayed as a silly, annoying, mischievous child asking lots of dull questions or doing silly things, but he finally wins over Gena. In some jokes, there are also other characters of Russian children animations, such as Little Red Ridinghood or Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet.
* Gena and Cheburashka were on the tenth floor and noticed a pancake on the street. Cheburashka rushed down the staircase, while Gena decided to jump from the window. Cheburashka arrives to the street and cries: "Gena, which pancake do you want, a yellow one or a green one?"


* A drunkard takes a leak by a lamp pole in the street. A policeman tries to reason with him: "Can't you see the latrine is just 25 feet away?" The drunkard replies: "Do you think I got me a damn fire hose in my pants here?"

* Drunk #1 is slowly walking, bracing himself against a fence and stumbling. He comes across Drunk #2, who is lying next to the fence. "What a disgrace! Lying around like a pig! I'm ashamed for you." "You just keep on walking, demagogue! We'll see what you're gonna do when you run out of fence!"


These often revolve around the supposition that the vast majority of Russian and Soviet "militsioners" (policemen) accept bribes. Also, they are not considered to be very bright.

*News: A sadomasochist parade was violently dispersed by police. Both parties enjoyed the action a lot.

*An intelligence test was conducted among the OMON (Russian SWAT and riot police units) involving variously shaped and sized holes and pegs. The conclusion states that the OMON can be divided into two groups: extremely intelligent and extremely strong.

*Three prizes were awarded for the successes in Socialist competition of "militsia" dept. #18. The third prize is the "Complete Works" of Vladimir Lenin. The second prize is 100 roubles and a ticket to Sochi... The first prize is a portable stop sign. (There are several versions with this punch line about the stop sign. This one depicts a Soviet peculiarity. A portable stop sign allows the militsioner to put it in an unexpected or hard to see place on a road, fine everyone passing it and appropriate most of the fines for himself.)

*A person on a bus tells a joke: "Do you know why policemen always go in pairs?" / "No, why?" / "It's specialization: one knows how to read, the other - how to write." / A hand promptly grabs him by the shoulder — a policeman is standing right behind him! "Your papers!" he barks. The hapless person surrenders his papers. The policeman opens them, reads, and nods to his partner: "Write him up a citation, Vasya."

Ethnic stereotypes

Imperial Russia has been multiethnic for many centuries and this fact has survived on into its successor state, the former Soviet Union. Throughout their history several ethnic stereotypes have developed, often shared with those produced by other ethnicities (usually with the understandable exception of the ethnicity in question, but not always).

* What do you call one Russian? --A drunk. What do you call two Russians? --A fight. What do you call three Russians? -- A Party cell
* What do you call one Jew? --A financial center. What do you call two Jews? --The World Chess Championship. What do you call three Jews? --Native Russian Folk Instrument Ensemble.
* What do you call one Ukrainian? --A partisan. What do you call two Ukrainians? --A partisan cell. What do you call three Ukrainians? --A partisan cell with a traitor in their midst.


Chukchi, the native people of Chukotka, the most remote northeast corner of Russia, are the most common minority targeted for generic ethnic jokes in Russia—many other nations have a particular one they make fun of (cf. Poles in American humor, Newfie jokes about Newfoundlanders in Canada or jokes about Belgians in France). In jokes, they are depicted as generally primitive and simple-minded, but clever in a naive kind of way. A propensity for constantly saying "odnako" - "however" - is a staple of Chukcha jokes. Often a partner of Chukcha in the jokes is a Russian geologist.

*"Chukcha, why did you buy a fridge if it's so cold in tundra?" / "Why, is minus fifty Celsius outside yaranga, is minus ten inside, is minus five in the fridge—a warm place, however!"
*A Chukcha comes into a shop and asks: "Do you have color TVs?" "Yes, we do." "Give me a green one."
* A Chukcha applies for membership in the Union of Soviet Writers. He is asked what literature he is familiar with. "Have you read Pushkin?" "No." "Have you read Dostoevsky?" "No." "Can you read at all?" The Chukcha, offended, replies, "Chukcha not reader, Chukcha writer!" (The latter phrase has become a popular cliché in Russian culture hinting at happy or militant ignorance.)

Chukchi do not miss their chance to retaliate.
*A Chukcha and a Russian geologist go hunting polar bears. They track one down at last. Seeing the bear, the Chukcha shouts "Run!" and starts running away. The Russian shrugs, raises his gun and shoots the bear. "Russian hunter bad hunter, however", says the Chukcha, "Now you haul this bear ten miles to the yaranga yourself!"

Chukchi in jokes, due to their innocence, often see the inner truth of situations.
*A Chukcha returns home from Moscow to great excitement and interest. "What is socialism like?" asks someone. "Oh," begins the Chukcha in awe, "There, everything is for the betterment of Man. I even saw that Man himself!"


" (pork fatback), and their accent, which is imitated in jokes, is perceived as funny.

:A Ukrainian tourist is questioned at international customs::—Are you carrying any weapons or drugs? :—What are drugs?:—They make you get high.:—Yes, salo. :—But salo is not a drug.:—When I eat salo, I get high!

* A Ukrainian is asked: "Can you eat an entire pound of apples?" - "Yes, I can." - "Can you eat two pounds of apples?" - "I can." - "And five pounds?" - "I can." - "Can you eat 100 pounds?!" - "What I cannot eat, I will nibble!" This response became a popular catchphrase among Ukrainians themselves.

Ukrainians are perceived to bear a grudge against Russians (derided as "Moskali" by Ukrainians)

* The Soviet Union has launched the first man into space. A Ukrainian shepherd, standing on top of a hill, shouts over to another Ukrainian on another hill to tell the news. "Mykola!" / "Yes!" / "The moskali have flown to the Moon!" / "All of them?" / "No, just one." / "So why are you bothering me?"


Georgians are almost always depicted as masculine, suave, hot-blooded and sexually addicted, and in some cases, all four at the same time. A very loud and theatrical Georgian accent, including the grammatical errors typical of Georgians, and occasional Georgian words is considered funny to imitate in Russian and often becomes a joke in itself.

In some jokes, they are depicted as rich, because in Soviet times, Georgians were also perceived as running black market businesses. It should however be noted that at that time Russians often applied the word "Georgians" ("gruziny") to all people from the Caucasus, regardless of their actual nationality. There is a funny expression, that usually in police reports they are termed as "persons of Caucasian nationality" ( _ru. лицо кавказской национальности). Since the Russian word for "person" in the formal sense, ( _ru. лицо), is the same as the word for "face", this allows a play on words about "faces of Caucasian nationality". In Russia itself, most people saw "persons of Caucasian nationality" mostly at marketplaces selling fruits and flowers. Many jokes about Georgians are being recently retold in terms of "New Russians".

*A plane takes off from the Tbilisi airport in Georgia. A passenger storms the pilot's cabin, waving an AK-47 rifle and demanding that the flight be diverted to Israel. The pilot shrugs OK, but suddenly the hijacker's head falls off his shoulders, and a Georgian pops from behind with his blood-drenched dagger, and a huge suitcase: "Lisssn here "genatsvale": no any Israel-Misrael; fly Moscow nonstop — my roses are fading!"

*In the zoo, two girls are discussing a gorilla with a huge penis: "THAT's what a real man must have!" A Georgian passer-by sarcastically remarks: "You are badly mistaken. THIS is what a real man must have!", and produces a thick wallet.


Armenians are often used interchangeably with Georgians, sharing some of the stereotypes. However their unique context is the fictitious "Armenian Radio", usually telling political jokes. Many jokes are based on word play, often combined with the usage of Southern accent and consequent misunderstanding between the characters.

*An old Armenian is on his deathbed: "My children, remember to defend the Jews." "Why Jews?" "Because if they are gone, we will be next."

*An Armenian tradesman, standing next to Georgian one on the market, suddenly turns to the latter and says: "Armenians are better than Georgians". Georgian remains silent and still. After a short period of time, the Armenian repeats the phrase, to no reaction again. However, after several repeats, the Georgian suddenly explodes and begins to shout, waving his hands: "Which way can they be better then?!" The Armenian remains imperturbable and says: "Than Georgians".

Estonians and Finns

Estonians and Finns, allegedly rustic, are depicted as having no sense of humour and being stubborn, taciturn and especially slow. The Estonian accent, especially its sing-song tune and the lack of genders in grammar, forms part of the humour. Their common usage of geminates both in speech and orthography (e.g. Tallinn, Saaremaa) also led to the stereotype of being slow in speech, thinking and action. In the everyday life a person may be derisively named a "hot Estonian fellow" (or, in similar spirit, a "hot-tempered Finnish bloke", a phrase popularized by the 1995 Russian comedy "Peculiarities of National Hunt") to emphasize tardiness or lack of temperament. Indeed, Estonians play a similar role in Soviet humor to that of Finns in Scandinavian jokes.

Finnish political scientist Ilmari Susiluoto, also an author of three books on Russian humor, writes that Finns and Russians understand each other's humor. "Being included in a Russian anecdote is a privilege that Danes or Dutchmen have not attained. These nations are too boring and unvaried to rise into the consciousness of a large country. But the funny and slightly silly, stubborn Finns, the "Chukhnas" do." [ Soviet nostalgia lives on in Russian anecdotes] , "Helsingin Sanomat", 9/5/2006]

* An Estonian stands by a railway track. Another Estonian passes by on a handcar, pushing the pump up and down. The first one asks: "Iis iitt a llonnggwwayy ttoo Ttallinn?" — "Nnoot ttoo llonngg." He gets on the car and joins pushing the pump up and down. After two hours of silent pumping the first Estonian asks again: "Iis iitt a llonngg wwayy ttooTtallinn?" — "Nnooow iiitt iiiis llonngg wwayy."
* A special offer from Estonian mobile phone providers: the first two hours of a call are free.
* Two Estonians ride an elevator, when suddenly it gets stuck and wouldn't move. An hour passes, and one of the men turns to another and asks, "Is it just me or this elevator goes really slow?"
* "I told some Estonian blokes that they're slow." / "What did they reply?" / "Nothing, but they beat me up the following day. "Finns share with Chukchi their ability to withstand cold:
*At -10 degrees Celsius, heating is switched on in British homes, while Finns change into a long-sleeved shirt. At -20 Austrians fly to Malaga, while Finns celebrate midsummer. At -200 hell freezes over and Finland wins the Eurovision Song Contest. At -273 absolute zero temperature is reached, all atom movement ceases. The Finns shrug and say: "Perkele, a bit chilly today, isn't it?". (This joke predates the event, deemed impossible, of Finland actually winning the contest, in 2006.)


Jewish humour is a highly developed subset of Russian humor, largely based on the Jews' self-image. These Jewish anecdotes are not the same as anti-Semitic jokes. As some Jews say themselves, Jewish jokes are being made by either anti-Semites or the Jews themselves. Instead, whether told by Jews or non-Jewish Russians, these jokes show cynicism, self-irony and wit that is characteristic of Jewish humour both in Russia and elsewhere in the world (see Jewish humor). The jokes are usually told with a characteristic Jewish accent (stretching out syllables, parodying the uvular trill of "R", etc.) and some peculiarities of sentence structure calqued into Russian from Yiddish.

* Abram cannot sleep, tossing and turning from side to side... Finally his wife Sarah protests: "Abram, what's bothering you?" / "I owe Moishe 20 roubles, but I have no money. What shall I do?" / Sarah bangs on the wall and shouts to the neighbors: "Moishe! My Abram still owes you 20 roubles? Well he isn't giving them back!" Turning to her husband she says: "Now go to sleep and let Moishe stay awake!"
* An Odessa Jew meets another one. "Have you heard, Einstein is going to America!" / "Oh, what for?" / "He developed this Relativity theory." / "Yeah, what's that?" / "Well, you know, five hairs on your head is relatively few. Five hairs in your soup is relatively many." / "And for that he goes to America?!"


Russian stereotypes about Chinese people are probably the same as in Western world. Common jokes center on the size of the Chinese population, the Chinese language, and the perceptions of the Chinese as cunning, industrious, and hard-working. Other popular jokes revolve around the belief that the Chinese are capable of amazing feats by primitive means, such as the Great Leap Forward.

*"During the Damansky Island incident the Chinese military developed three main strategies: The Great Offensive, The Small Retreat, and Infiltration by Small Groups of One to Two Million Across the Border."
*"When a child is born in a Chinese family, there is an ancient tradition: a silver spoon is dropped on the jade floor. The sound the spoon makes will be the name of the newborn." (see Chinese names)
*The first report of the first Chinese human spaceflight: "All systems operational, boiler-men on duty!"

A good deal of jokes are puns based on the fact that a widespread Chinese syllable (spelled "hui" in pinyin) sounds exactly like the obscene Russian word for penis (хуй). For this reason since about 1956 the Russian-Chinese dictionaries render the Russian transcription of this syllable as "хуэй" ("huey"), the most embarrassing case probably being the word "socialism" (社会主义; pinyin: "shè huì zhǔ yì"), rendered previously as шэ-хуй-чжу-и.
*A new Chinese ambassador is to meet Gromyko. When the latter enters, the Chinese presents himself: "Zhǔi Hui!" Gromyko, unperturbed, retorts "Zhui sam!" The surprised Chinese asks: "And where is Gromyko?" (The pun is that "zhui hui!" (a mock Chinese name) means "chew a dick!" in Russian and "zhui sam" means "chew [it] yourself").
* Сунь Хуй в Чай Вынь Пей Сам, "Sun' Huy v Chay Vyn' Pey Sam", (literally meaning "Dip [your] penis into tea, withdraw [and] drink [it] , yourself") is a made-up "Chinese name" that is analogous of the English "Who Flung Dung".


Russians are a stereotype in Russian jokes themselves when set next to other stereotyped ethnicities. Thus, the Russian appearing in a triple joke with two Westerners, like a Pole, German, French, American or Englishman, will provide for a self-ironic punchline depicting him as simple-minded and negligently careless but physically robust, which often ensures he retains the upper hand over his less naive Western counterparts.

*A Frenchman, a German, and a Russian go on a safari and are trapped by cannibals. They are brought to the chief, who says, "We are going to eat you right now. But I am a civilized man, I studied human rights at the Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, so I'll grant each of you a last request." The German asks for a mug of beer and a bratwurst. He gets it, and cannibals eat him. The French asks for three girls. He has crazy sex with them, and then follows the German. The Russian asks: "Hit me hard, right on my nose." The chief is surprised, but hits him. The Russian pulls out a Kalashnikov and shoots all the cannibals. The mortally wounded chief asks him: "Why didn't you do this before we ate the German?", the Russian proudly replies: "Russians are not aggressors!" ("Side note: This joke has also been used as a Jewish joke; more specifically, as an Israeli joke, alluding to Israel's supposedly being constantly afraid of being seen as the 'aggressor"')

*A Chukcha sits on the shore of the Bering Strait. An American submarine surfaces. The American captain opens the hatch and asks: "Which way is Alaska?" The Chukcha points his finger: "That way!" "Thanks!" says the American, shouts "South-South-East, bearing 159.5 degrees!" down the hatch and the submarine submerges. Ten minutes later a Soviet submarine emerges. The Russian captain opens the hatch and asks the Chukcha: "Where did the American submarine go?" The Chukcha replies: "South-South-East bearing 159.5 degrees!" "Don't be a smart-ass," says the captain, "just point with your finger!"


Like everywhere else, a good deal of jokes in Russia are based on puns.

* (L) The genitive plural of a noun (used with a numeral to indicate five or more of something, as opposed to the dual, used for two, three, or four, see Russian nouns) is a rather unpredictable form of the Russian noun, and there are a handful of words which native speakers have trouble producing this form of (either due to rarity or an actual lexical gap). A common example of this is "kocherga" (fireplace poker). The joke is set in a Soviet factory. Five pokers are to be requisitioned. The correct forms are acquired, but as they are being filled out, a debate arises: what is the genitive plural of "kocherga"? Is it "Kocherg?" "Kocherieg?" "Kochergov?"... One thing is clear: a form with the wrong genitive plural of "kocherga" will bring disaster from the typically-pedantic bureaucrats. Finally, an old janitor overhears the commotion, and tells them to send in two separate requisitions: one for two "kochergi" and another for three "kochergi". In some versions, they send in a request for 4 "kochergi" and one extra to find out the correct word, only to receive back "here are your 4 "kochergi" and one extra." (In reality, a bureaucrat would likely resort to a trick like "Kocherga: 5 items"; a similar story by Mikhail Zoshchenko involves yet another answer.)


A Russian slang for 'testicle' is 'egg' (yaitso). A large variety of jokes capitalizes on this, ranging from predictably silly to surprisingly elegant.
*St. Petersburg. Hermitage Museum. An exhibit of a masterpiece by Peter Carl Fabergé. The caption reads: "Fabergé. "Self-portrait". (Fragment)"
*A train compartment. A family: a small daughter, her mother and grandma. The fourth passenger is a Georgian. The mother starts feeding a soft-boiled egg to the daughter with a silver spoon. Grandma: "Don't you know that eggs can spoil silver?" — "Who would have known!", thinks the Georgian and replaces his silver cigarette case from the front pants pocket to the back one.
*See 'Chastushka' article for a yet another example.


A notable feature of Soviet humor is the virtual lack of jokes about religion. This is not because Russians are particularly pious; religion simply had little relevance to the everyday life under Soviet rule.

Nevertheless, there are jokes out there that make fun of the clergy. They tend to be told in quasi-Church Slavonic, with its archaisms and the stereotypical okanye - a clear pronunciation of the unstressed /o/ as /o/. (Modern Russian or "Muscovite" speech reduces unstressed /o/ to /a/.) Clergymen in these jokes always bear obsolete names of distinctively Greek origin and speak in basso profondo.

* (L) At the lesson of the Holy Word: "Disciple Dormidontiy, pray tell me, is the soul separable from the body or not." / "Separable, Father." / "Verily speakest thou. Substantiate thy reckoning." / "Yesterday morning, Father, I was passing by your cell and overheard your voice chanting: (imitates bass) '...And now, my soul, arise and get thee dressed.' " / "Substantiatest... But in vulgar !" (The Russian phrase that translates literally as "my soul" is a term of endearment, often toward romantic partners, comparable to English "my darling")
* A lass in a miniskirt jumps onto a bus. The bus starts abruptly, and she falls onto the lap of a seated priest. Surprised, she looks down and says, "Wow!" "It's not a 'wow!', my daughter," says the priest, "it is the key to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour!"

Other jokes touching on religious involve Heaven or Hell.


*A Communist died and since he was a honest man albeit atheist, he was sentenced to rotate spending one year in Hell and one year in Heaven. One year passed and Satan said to God : "Take this man as fast as possible, because he turned all my young demons into Young Pioneers, I have to restore some order." Another year passed, Satan meets God again and tells him : "Lord God, it's my turn now." God replied : "First of all, don't call me Lord God, but instead Comrade God; second, there is no God; and one more thing - don't distract me or I'll be late to the Party meeting."

*A Russian and an American are sentenced to Hell. The Devil summons them and says: "Guys, you have 2 options: an American or Russian hell. In the American one you can do what you want, but you'll have to eat a bucket of shit every morning. The Russian one is the same, but it's 2 buckets." The Yankee quickly makes up his mind and goes to American Hell, while the Russian eventually chooses the Russian one. In a week or so they meet. The Russian asks: "So, what's it like out there?"/ "Exactly what the devil said, the Hell itself is OK, but eating a bucket of shit is killing me. And you?" / "Ah, it feels like home - either the shit was not delivered or there aren't enough buckets for everyone!"

Russian military jokes

Probably any nation big enough to have an army has a good deal of its own barracks jokes. Other than for plays on words, these jokes are usually international. In the Soviet Union, however, military service was universal (for males), so most people could relate to them. In these jokes a "praporschik" (warrant officer) is an archetypal bully of limited wit.

A. Dmitriev illustrates his sociological essay "Army Humor" with a large number of military jokes, mostly of Russian origin. [Дмитриев А. В. Социология юмора: Очерки. М., 1996, article " [ Army Humor] " ru icon ]

There is an enormous number of one-liners, supposedly quoting a "praporschik":
*"Private Ivanov, dig a trench from me to the next scarecrow!"
*"Private Ivanov, dig a trench from the fence until lunchtime!"
*"Don't make clever faces at me - you're future officers, now act accordingly!"The punchline "from the fence until lunchtime" has become a well-known Russian cliché for an assignment with no defined ending (or for doing something forever).

Some of them are philosophical and apply not just to warrant officers.
*"Scene One": A tree. An apple. An ape comes and starts to shake the tree. A voice from above: "Think, think!" The ape thinks, grabs a stick, and hits the apple off. / "Scene Two": A tree. An apple. A "praporschik" comes and starts to shake the tree. A voice from above: "Think, think!" / "No time to think, gotta shake!".

Commander and intellectual trooper:
*A commander announces: - "The platoon has been assigned to unload 'luminum, the lightest iron in the world". A trooper responds, "Permission to speak... It's 'aluminium', not 'luminum', and it's one of the lightest metals in the world, not the lightest 'iron' in the world.". The commander retorts: "The platoon is going to unload 'luminum... and the intelligentsia are going to unload 'castum ironum'!" (For Russian speakers: the words were "lyuminiy" and "chuguniy").

(A persistent theme in Russian military/police/law-enforcement-related jokes is the ongoing conflict between the representatives of the armed forces/law enforcement, and the "intelligentsia", i.e. well-educated members of society. Therefore, this theme is a satire of the image of military/law-enforcement officers and superiors as dumb and distrustful of "those educated smart-alecks".)

Until shortly before perestroika, all fit male students of higher education had obligatory military ROTC courses from which they graduate as junior officers in the military reserve. A good deal of military jokes originated there.
* "Soviet nuclear bombs are 25% more efficient than the Atomic Bombs of the probable adversary. American bombs have 4 zones of effect: A, B, C, D, while ours have five: А, Б, В, Г, Д!" (the first five letters of the Russian alphabet, they are transliterated into Latin as A, B, V, G, D).
* "A nuclear bomb is specially designed to hit ground zero."
* "Suppose we have a unit of M tanks... no, M is not enough. Suppose we have a unit of N tanks!"
* A threat to an idle student: "I ought to take you out into the open field, put you face first against a wall, and shoot you between the eyes with a shotgun, so that you'd remember it for the rest of your life!
*"Cadets, write down: the temperature of boiling water is 90°." One of the privates replies, "Comrade "praporshchik", you're mistaken - it's 100°!" The officer checks in the book, and then replies, "Right, 100°. It is the right angle that boils at 90°."

Sometimes, these silly statements can cross over, intentionally or unintentionally, into the realm of actual wit:

* "Cadet, explain to us why you have come to class wearing trousers of our most probable military opponent!" "(the teacher means jeans made in the USA)" The right answer, as mentioned sometimes, is: "Because they are a probable war trophy."

It also can be jokes about Russian nuclear rocket forces, and world-wide disasters because of lack of basic army discipline.
* A missile silo officer falls asleep during his watch, with his face on the control board and "red button"/ As the colonel comes in, the officer snaps up and prodly reports: "Nothing to report during my watch, comrade Colonel"/ "Nothing to report, you say? Nothing to report?! "Then where the hell is Belgium?!!"
* Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, two submarines, Soviet and American, come to the surface. The Soviet one is old and rusty; the American one is new and shiny. On the Soviet one, the crew lounges about without any order, and a drunken captain yells at them: "Who threw a "valenok" (traditional Russian winter footwear made of felt) on the control board? I'm asking you, who threw a "valenok" on the control board?!". From the American submarine, a shaved, sober and well-dressed captain, notes sarcastically: "You know, folks, in America...". The Russian captain interrupts him, screaming: "America? America??! There is none of your fucking America anymore!" (Turns back to the crew) "Who threw a "valenok" onto the control board?!"

There is also an eternal dispute between servicemen and civilians:
*"Civilian": "You servicemen are dumb. We civilians are smart!" / "Serviceman": "If you are so smart, then why don’t you march in files?" "Navy ending": "... why don't you wear a tel'nik?" (short for "telnyashka").

Black humour

Chernobyl humour

* An old woman stands in the market with a "Chernobyl mushrooms for sale" sign. A man goes up to her and asks, "Hey, what are you doing? Who's going to buy Chernobyl mushrooms?" And she tells him, "Why, lots of people. Some for their boss, others for their mother-in-law..."

* A grandson asks his grandfather: "Grandpa, is it true that in 1986 there was an accident at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant?" "Yes, there was." - answered the Grandpa and patted the grandson's head. "Grandpa, is it true that it had absolutely no consequences?" "Yes, absolutely" - answered the Grandpa and patted the grandson's second head. (Often added "And they strolled off together, wagging their tails").

* A Soviet newspaper reports: "Last night the N. Nuclear Powerstation fulfilled the Five Year Plan of heat energy generation in 4 microseconds."

Medical humour

Medical jokes are widespread. Usually, they consist of a short dialogue of doctor or nurse and patient.

* "Doc, where're we going?" / "To the morgue."/ "But I haven't died yet!"/ "Well, we haven't arrived yet."
* "Nurse, where're we going?" / "To the morgue."/ "But I haven't died yet!"/ "The doc said 'to the morgue' - to the morgue it is!" / "But what is wrong with me?!" / "The autopsy will show!"The phrase "The doc said 'to the morgue', to the morgue it is!" ("Доктор сказал "в морг" - значит в морг!") became a well-known Russian cliché meaning that something unpleaseant "must" be done.

University students

The life of most Russian university students is often associated with many people coming from small towns and living in dormitories. State universities (the only type of universities in existence in Soviet times) are notable for carelessness about the students' comfort and the quality of food. Most jokes make fun of these "interesting" conditions, inventive evasion by students of their academic duties or lecture attendance, constant shortage of money and sometimes about alcoholic tendencies of engineering students.

Students' nutrition

* A memo in a student dining hall: Students, do not drop your food on the floor, two cats have already died after eating it.
* A crocodile's stomach can digest concrete. A student's stomach can digest that of a crocodile.
* A student in the canteen: "Can I have 2 hot dogs... .... and 17 forks, please?"
* Menu in the canteen: "Soup with a bone" - 2 rub., "Soup without a bone" - 1 rub. A student proudly throws 2 rub. coin and says "Soup with a bone, please". He receives a bowl of hot water and exclaims "What the hell! Where's the bone?!". "It's being used, wait a moment."

tudents' drinking

* A very rumpled student peeks into an exam room and slurs at the examiner: "Pp-proffessosssor, wou'd you ex-xamine a drunk student?.." The professor sighs and says, "Sure, why not." The rumpled student turns around and slurs into the hallway: "G-guys, c-carry 'im in."


Also, there are a number of funny student obsessions such as "zachetka" (a transcript of grades, carried by every student), "halyava" (a chance of getting good or acceptable grades without any effort) and getting a scholarship for good grades.

A large number of jokes are about an exam which are usually a dialogue between the professor and the student, based on a set of questions written on a "bilet" (a small sheet of paper, literally: ticket), which the student draws at random in the exam room, and is given some time to prepare answers for.

Abstract jokes

"Abstract joke" (or "abstract humor") is a kind of joke based on absurdity in its pure form.
*Two crocodiles were flying. One was green, the other was going to Africa, too. The first one asks, "How much does a pound of fried nails cost?" The second one replies, "What shoes? I graduated long ago"
*Why do I need a fridge when I'm not a smoker?

Cowboy jokes

Cowboy jokes is a popular series about a Wild West full of trigger-happy simple-minded cowboys, and of course the perception is that everything is big in Texas. It is often difficult to guess whether these are imported or genuinely Russian inventions. Other times, it's pretty clear.:In a saloon.:- The guy over there really pisses me off!:- There are four of them; which one? : (The joke narrator imitates the sounds of three shots) :- The one still standing!

*A cowboy enters a saloon with a gun in each hand. He starts shouting loudly while shooting a bullet to the ceiling every now and then. He then asks "Which bastard painted my horse yellow?" A seven-foot tall cowboy stands up and replies: "I did. So what?" The first cowboy then says: "Oh, nothing, nothing. I just wanted to tell you that the paint has dried and you can lacquer it now."

Inner voice

The "inner voice" series, often set within the framework of cowboys, has a typical template: the inner voice gives a series of seemingly good advice which eventually leads to big trouble.

*A cowboy is riding across a prairie. His inner voice tells him, "Get off the horse and dig a hole!" The cowboy does this and finds a box of silver. "Dig deeper!" The cowboy digs and finds a box of gold. "Dig deeper," says the voice again. The cowboy keeps digging and finds a box of diamonds. "Now, I wonder how you'll get yourself out," says the inner voice.
*A cowboy is riding alone across the Wild West. Suddenly he is attacked by a whole tribe of Indians. "God, I'm in trouble", thinks he, but then he hears his inner voice whispering: "Your situation isn't so bad... just shoot the one with the fancy feathers, the chief". So does the cowboy: shoots at the chief, who falls from his horse. "Now" you are indeed in trouble", says the inner voice.

Jokes about disabilities

There is a series of Russian jokes about disabilities. Most popular themes being mental hospital and dystrophy.

Mental hospital

*An inspector comes to a mental hospital and sees the patients diving into an empty pool head-first. "What are they doing?" he asks the nurse. "The chief psychiatrist promised to fill the pool with water when they learn to dive safely."

*A patient tells the doctor that he cannot live with his roommate anymore. "Why not?" / "Because at night he starts pretending he is a lamp." / "And why does that bother you?" / "I can't sleep with the light on."

The concept of "mental hospital" is also often used to poke fun at the political system.

*A lecturer visits the mental hospital and gives a lecture about how great communism is. Everybody claps loudly except for one person who keeps quiet. The lecturer asks: "why aren't you clapping?" and the person replies "I'm not a psycho, I work here."


A large number of jokes, arguably unparalleled among other nations, is about people with acute dystrophy, informally called "distrofik" in Russia. The main topics are extreme weakness, slowness, leanness, and weightlessness of a "distrofik".

*Distrofiks are playing hide and seek in the hospital. "Vovka, where are you?" / "I'm here, behind this broomstick!" / "Hey, didn't we have an arrangement not to hide behind thick objects?"
*A jolly doctor comes into a dystrophy ward: "Greetings, eagles!" (a Russian cliché in addressing able-bodied men, e.g., brave soldiers) In reply: "No, we are not. We are flying because the nurse turned the fan on!"
*A distrofik is lying in bed and shouting: "Nurse! Nurse!" / "What is it now?" / "Kill the fly! It's trampled my chest to pulp."

The retarded

*Father sends his son shopping: "You go and buy two things: bread and milk. Did you get it? Two things, TWO, not one! Bread! And milk!" The son comes back with a hockey stick. "What did I tell you, moron?! I told you to buy TWO things! Where is the puck, retard?!"
*A retarded kid comes to his dad and asks: "Hey pa, where's ma?" / "She's taking a shower, son" / "Pa, where's ma?" / "I told you, she's taking shower." / "Pa, where's ma?" / "Ok." Dad asks mother to come out from the shower. "Here's your mother!". The retard kid looks at his mother, smiles gladly and says: "Oooh! Ma!.... Where's pa?"

Taboo vocabulary

The very use of obscene Russian vocabulary, called "mat", can enhance the humorous effect of a joke by its emotional impact. Due to the somewhat different cultural attitude to obscene slang, such effect is difficult to render into English. The taboo status often makes "mat" itself the subject of a joke. One typical plot goes as follows.

:A construction site expects an inspection from the higher-ups, so a foreman warns the boys to watch their tongues. During the inspection, a hammer is accidentally dropped from the fourth floor right on a worker's head... The punch line is an exceedingly polite, classy rebuke from the mouth of the injured.

(L) Another series of jokes exploits the richness of the "mat" vocabulary, which can give a substitute to a great many words of everyday conversation. Other languages often use profanity in a similar way (like the English "fuck", for example), but the highly synthetic grammar of Russian provides for the unambiguity and the outstandingly great number of various derivations from a single "mat" root. Emil Draitser points out that linguists explain that the linguistic properties of the Russian language rich in affixes allows for expression of a wide variety of feelings and notions using only a few core "mat" words: [Emil Draitzer, "Making War Not Love", [ p. 37] ]
*An agenda item on working conditions at a trade union meeting of a Soviet plant. Locksmith Ivanov takes the floor: "Mother fuckers!... Go fuck yourself!... Fuck you and you too again!..." A voice from the audience: "Right to the point, Vasya! we won't work without work robes!"

As an ultimate joke in this series, the goal is to apply such substitution to as many words of a sentence as possible while keeping it meaningful. The following dialog at a construction site between a foreman and a worker retains a clear meaning even with all of its 14 words being derived from the single obscene word "khuy".

:- Fuckheads, why the fuck did you load so much of this fucking shit? Unload it anywhere you want motherfuckers!:- What's the fucking problem?! Fuck no! No fucking need to unload! It got loaded fucking well! Let's fucking go!Word-by-word: :- "Ohuyeli?!" (Have [you] gone mad?!) "Nahuya "(why)" dohuya "(so much)" huyni "(of stuff)" nahuyarili "(you have loaded up)"? Rashuyarivay "(unload [it] )" nahuy! "(out of here):- "Huli?! "(What's the problem?) "Nihuya! "(No way!)" Nehuy "(No need)" rashuyarivat "(to unload)"! Nahuyacheno "( [It] got loaded)" nehuyovo! " (quite well)! "Pohuyuarili!" (Let's go)

The bootsmann joke

There is the self-referential Bootsmann Joke, which is one of a kind and is known to produce macho contests of who composes the most elaborate, flowery, multi-level obscene masterpiece for the boatswain to utter, but always ends with the same punchline. A loosely translated version is as follows:

: The bootsmann stepped out the hatch on the deck, stumbled upon an anchor and flopped flat.: "You fucking buggered fucked-up shitty cunt, rotting in motherfucking dick-and-balls filthy hell of fuckedness!" said the bootsmann, "and then swore profusely".


Many jokes contain references to Russian folk tales, especially fixed, stereotypical word constructions used in them, e.g. the beginnings like "Once upon a time there lived a man...", "In some kingdom, in some state there once was..." These are often put in stark contrast with modern economical reality and self-interest:
* Once upon a time, an old man had three sons living with him... And all three were renting out their houses.

The following joke can be considered to be some kind of sequel to the aforementioned one:
*So the old man decided to divide his property among his three sons. "Fucking great", said the fourth one bitterly.


As well as many other nations' jokes, Russian ones mock both national and foreign governments and politicians, as well as their relationships. Politicians commonly represent the archetypes associated with their nations, just like a typical citizen of the country in question would in other types of jokes. Often these jokes come to existence in connection with recent political events, such as Russia–Ukraine gas dispute:
* "Can't you see that my hands have never stolen anything", shouted Viktor Yushchenko, turning the gas valve with his legs.The following one is an obvious pun at Vladimir Putin's FSB connections and the legendary omnipotence of FSB's predecessor, KGB:
* Paying a visit to Russia, as a part of official programme, George W. Bush goes fishing with Putin. The two are sitting in the boat with their fishing rods, but Bush is constantly distracted by mosquitoes. Suddenly he notices that Putin isn't attacked by the insects at all, and asks him: "Vladimir, how does it come so that these pests don't bite you?" / "They're not allowed to".


In English

*Emil Draitser [ "Forbidden Laughter"] (Los Angeles: Almanac Press, 1980.) ISBN 0896260453
*Emil Draitser [ Taking Penguins to the Movies: Ethnic Humor in Russia] (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1999.) ISBN 0814323278
* [ Tiny Revolution Russia: Twentieth Century Soviet and Russian History in Anecdotes and Jokes]
* [ Reflective Laughter: Aspects of Humour in Russian Culture (Anthem Slavic and Russian Studies)]
* [ Ethnic Humor Around the World: A Comparative Analysis]
* [ Consuming Russia: Popular Culture, Sex, and Society since Gorbachev] , contains an essay about Russian jokes
*Christie Davies, "Jokes and Their Relation to Society" (1998) ISBN 3110161044, Chapter 5: "Stupidity and rationality: Jokes from the iron cage" (about jokes from beyond the Iron Curtain)
* [ Contemporary Russian Satire: A Genre Study]
* [ Laughter through tears: Underground wit, humor, and satire in the Soviet Russian Empire]
* [ Is That You Laughing Comrade? the World's Best Russian (Underground Jokes)]
*Rodger Swearingen, [ What's so funny, comrade?] (1961) ASIN B0007DX2Z0
* [ The Cambridge Companion to Modern Russian Culture] ; section "Popular Culture" discusses Russian "narrative jokes ("anekdot") and "chastushkas": "... further "wise fool" figures, such as brave Red Army commander Chapayev, hippies, Cheburashka and Cornet Rzhevsky have replaced Ivan the Fool"
*"Eros and Pornography in Russian Culture." Edited by Marcus C. Levitt and Andrei L. Toporkov. In the Series “Russkaia potaennaia literatura.” Ladomir Publishers, Moscow, 1999. 700 p ( [ review] ) Section "Pornography in Russia today" contains a chapter on contemporary Russian humor

In Russian

*" [ Eto prosto smeshno, ili, Zerkalo krivogo korolevstva: Anekdoty : sistemnyi analiz, sintez i klassifikatsiia] "
*"U Mikrofona Armianskoe Radio" (1995) ISBN 5871730019
* [ Sotsiologiia iumora: Ocherki] (1996) Russian Academy of Science, ISBN 5201019080
* [ Sovetskii Soiuz v zerkale politicheskogo anekdota]


*Ilmari Susiluoto
** "Työ tyhmästä pitää, venäläisen huumorin aakkoset" ("Only a Fool Likes to Work: The ABCs of Russian humour"), Ajatuskustannus, 2000 fi icon
** "Takaisin Neuvostoliittoon" (2006) ("Back to the USSR") — [ A review] , "Helsingin Sanomat", 9/5/2006 : "Soviet nostalgia lives on in Russian anecdotes: Finnish political scientist examines post-Soviet humour in new book" (review in English)

External links

* [] , Russian humor website (in Russian)
* [] , Russian humor resource (in Russian)
* by Mark Perakh
* [ Hammer & tickle] , Prospect Magazine, May 2006, essay by Ben Lewis on jokes in Communist countries

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Поможем написать курсовую

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Russian humour — gains much of its wit from the great flexibility and richness of the Russian language, allowing for plays on words and unexpected associations. As with any other culture s humour, its vast scope ranges from lewd jokes and silly wordplay to… …   Wikipedia

  • Russian culture — Saint Basil s Cathedral on the Red Square, Moscow …   Wikipedia

  • Russian mat — Mat ( ru. мат, матерщина, матерный язык) is a Russian patois language, based on the use of specific generally unprintable obscene words. Russian mat makes it possible to have a conversation (although not always insulting, but always emotional)… …   Wikipedia

  • Russian political jokes — (or, rather, Russophone political jokes) are a part of Russian humour and can be naturally grouped into the major time periods: Imperial Russia, Soviet Union and finally post Soviet Russia. Quite a few political themes can be found among other… …   Wikipedia

  • Russian literature — Introduction       the body of written works produced in the Russian language, beginning with the Christianization of Kievan Rus in the late 10th century.       The unusual shape of Russian literary history has been the source of numerous… …   Universalium

  • List of Russian people — The Millennium of Russia monument in Veliky Novgorod, featuring the statues and reliefs of the most celebrated people in the first 1000 years of Russian history …   Wikipedia

  • New Russian — (Novyi Russkiy, Russian: новый русский) is a term for the newly rich business class in post Soviet Russia. It is perceived as a stereotypical caricature. According to the stereotype, New Russians achieved rapid wealth by using criminal methods… …   Wikipedia

  • Reduplication in the Russian language — The reduplication in the Russian language serves for various kinds of the intensification of the meaning. Reduplication is also observable in borrowed words, such as ru. пинг понг (IPA| [piŋ poŋ] ; ping pong) and ru. зигзаг (IPA| [zɪgˈzak] ; zig… …   Wikipedia

  • The Goon Show running jokes — This is a list of running jokes the 1950s British radio programme The Goon Show. Contents 1 Catch phrases 2 Regular plot devices 3 Very long jokes 4 Footnotes …   Wikipedia

  • Military humor — Military humor: Badge of the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club (aka US 7th Fleet) Military humor is humor based on stereotypes of military life. Military humor portrays a wide range of characters and situations in the armed forces. It comes in a wide array… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”