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Tell a joke to a German, and he will not understand it.

Tell a joke to an Englishman, and he will understand it, but won't show it.

Tell a joke to a Japanese, and he will understand it his own way.

Tell a joke to a Russian, and he will tell you that he knows three more versions of that joke that are much better.
—Russian metajoke

Russian humour comes mostly in form of "anecdotes" (anekdoty) - joke stories with a punchline. Typical of Russian joke culture is a series of categories with fixed and highly familiar settings and characters. Surprising effects are achieved by an endless variety of plots and plays on words. The most common characters of Russian anecdotes are the following:

  • Stirlitz. This is a character from the highly popular Soviet TV series Seventeen Moments of Spring. The series is about a Soviet spy Maxim Isayev, who infiltrates Nazi Germany under the guise of Standardentführer (see Common Ranks) Otto von Stirlitz and foils its plans to enter into separate peace treaty with the Allies. 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.
Most Stirlitz jokes are based on puns and wordgames. The series itself is dark and moody, similar to American Film Noir, and has a solemn Narrator's voice that narrates the inner dialogue of the characters. In the jokes, however, the stern voice tells hilarious puns instead of superlogical trains of thought. Here is a typical example:
    • Stirlitz was walking in the forest and found blue fir trees. He walked further and found that the gay guys were also drinking (the pun is that "blue fir trees" and "the gay guys were eating" sound and are written identically in Russian: "голубые ели").
    • Stirlitz had a thought. He liked it, so he had another one.
    • Stirlitz heard someone knocking on his door. "Bormann", thought Stirlitz. "Me", thought Bormann.
    • Stirlitz, walking down the corridor, subtly pushed the door of Bormann's office. The door didn't move. Stirlitz stopped, looked around and pushed harder. No effect. "Hmm... It must be closed", Stirlitz deducted.
      • Another variant of this joke involves some Fourth Wall painting:

 Stirlitz, walking down the corridor, subtly pushed the door of Bormann's office. The door didn't move. Stirlitz stopped, looked around and pushed harder. No effect.

Narrator's voiceover: Pull, you idiot!

    • Seventeen Moments of Spring was recently re-released in color. This led to a few new Stirlitz jokes, centered on colors. Here's one.
      • "Stirlitz was surprised to see so many colored people serving in the Gestapo".
    • 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 the vodka, Comrade Tikhonov!"
      • Vyacheslav Tikhonov is the name of the actor who played Stirlitz. The uniform colours correspond to SS, Soviet military, and Soviet police.
    • 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 refrigerator," concluded Stirlitz.
    • While Stirlitz was driving at 120 m/h, Muller was running nearby, pretending he is not in hurry.
    • Stirlitz heard someone knocking the door. He opened. There was a little dog. "What are you doing here, silly thing?" - he asked kindly. "You fool! I'm from Centre." (This joke spoofs tendency of secret agents to wear disguises)
      • This dog and Stirlitz's line were in the series. The dog didn't respond though.
  • Vasily Ivanovich Chapayev. He was a Red Army hero of the Russian Civil War, in the rank of Division Commander (roughly equivalent of Major General), and was featured in a hugely popular 1934 biopic. Other characters from the biopic like his aide-de-camp Petka, Anka The Machine-Gunner, and political commissar Furmanov, all based on real people, are also featured in the jokes. Most common topics are about their fight with the White Army, Chapayev's futile attempts to enroll into the Frunze Military Academy, his folk-cunning and his incompetence in book military science, 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!"

- Vasiliy Ivanovich, enemy tanks are attacking!

- Take the grenades from the shelf, Petka.

Some time later.

- Whew! We've beaten them back!
—Good, Petka. Now, put the grenades back to the shelf.
  • Lieutenant Rzhevsky, a Hussar from the popular movie Hussar Ballad. He is renowned for being a womanizer, telling lewd jokes and dropping Cluster F Bombs in a Sophisticated As Hell manner. By some weird reason (maybe for sheer contrast), these jokes usually depict him interacting with characters from War and Peace such as Natasha Rostove or Pierre Bezukhov. The humor in these jokes comes from the futile attempts of this trash-talking, tit-grabbing Boisterous Bruiser to pass as an Officer and a Gentleman and fit into the polite, sophisticated noble society.

 "Yesterday I saved a lady from a rape..."

"Oh, it's so interesting, Lieutenant, tell me how you did it!"

"Well, I just persuaded her."

    • Rzhevsky and Natasha are at a ball. They walk onto a balcony.

 Rzhevsky: Natalie, what a magnificent night this is, with its full moon and bright stars.

Echo [out of habit]: Fuck, fuck, fuck.

  • Rabinovich. A sterotypical Russian Jew: smart, crafty, and very mercantile. Most jokes revolve around Rabinovich finding improbable sources of income and, in older stories, vigorously hating the Soviet government. Nowadays, can become a slight faux pas. The most famous contemporary Rabinovich joke involves Pamyat, a Russian ultra-nationalist (and thus antisemitic) group:

 Pamyat: Pamyat headquarters, what is the nature of your inquiry?

Rabinovich: Is it true that Jews sold Russia out?

Pamyat: Damn right!

Rabinovich: Great! Could you tell me where I might get my share?

  • Vovochka (a diminuitive form of "Vova", itself, in turn, a diminutive form of "Vladimir"). A stereotypical Russian school student (depending on the story, his age may vary from kindergarten to high school): not too bright, not interested in studying, either, prone to underage drinking, smoking, and swearing. Think Bart Simpson, only sometimes worse. He's apparently a subversion of young Vladimir Lenin, who was a role model character in many didactic tales for children. His most common counterpart is Marivanna (shortened of "Maria Ivanovna"), a stereotypical Russian schoolmarm, whose portrayal varies from sympathetic to outright offensive. Ever since Vladimir Putin got elected President, the joke-tellers went meta and started considering Vovochka anecdotes political jokes.
    • 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!"

 Watson: Holmes, what is this terrible howling? Is this the Hound of Baskervilles?

Holmes: No, Watson... It's Sir Henry, they're trying to make him eat porridge again.

  • "New Russians", the Nouveau Riche a la Russe. The stereotype of arrogant and poorly educated post-Perestroika businessmen and gangsters, who seized enormous wealth in The Nineties and were driving around in Mercedes cars and expensive suits, but have no idea what "style" is, only price. Typical plots involve them interacting among each other, bragging about their ill-gotten wealth, or with normal, poor but well-educated people. Or they are rammed by the Arch Enemy of a Mercedes, an old ugly Zaporozhets.

  A Mercedes Benz stops at a traffic light. Suddenly, a Zaporozhets comes from behind and collides with it. Five thugs get out of the Mercedes and drag the driver of the Zaporozhets out. 'Okay, dude, we see now that you don't have any money, so we'll just beat the crap out of you for trashing our car,' they say. The man looks at them and says: 'Wait, boys, isn't it unfair for five people to attack one?' The thugs get together and discuss this for a little, then return to him and say: 'You are right, it is unfair. Here, Kolya and Vova will fight on your side.'"

    • A sheer chaos when anything could turn in any way was another source of jokes.
      • A Mercedes stops, and an old Zaporozhets crashes into it. Two goons in suits get out, approach an old man in old car and ask him: "Hi, now you owe us so-o much... you're going to pay or we'll talk ...differently?" Old dude replies "Ah, i haven't much money with me, perhaps you need to talk with my son." "And who's your son?" "Chief of the poultry farm." "Well, call him." Five minutes later an armored carrier stops nearby and several big, armed troopers jumps out. "Dad, how many times i must tell you? My job's called not Chief of the Poultry Farm, but Commander of the Falcon Special Detachment..."
      • After an operation, the surgeon tells the patient: "We'll have to operate again, I forgot a glove inside of you". The patient, a New Russian, replies: "Here's a hundred bucks, go buy yourself a new one".
      • One New Russian is boasting to another: "Look, this tie cost me 600 dollars!" The other replies: "You've been had, they sell the same ties round the corner for 1000 dollars!"
      • A New Russian exits the Hermitage Museum (Russian Imperial Palace filled with precious works of art): "Meh, what a hovel" (people around look at him reproachfully) "but a tidy one!"
      • A police investigator asks a New Russian: "Do you have an alibi?" - "Yes, I do. Can I pay in foreign currency?"
      • A New Russian is in an auto accident. He stumbles out of his car, and his left arm has been torn off. He starts yelling "Oh God, my car! My car!" A bystander says, "Your car? Look at your arm!" He looks down an says, "Oh God, my Rolex!"

  A New Russian meets his daughter's boyfriend for the first time. They are alone in a room and the New Russian starts asking a few questions:

 New Russian: So, do you have your own appartment already?

Boyfriend: Uhm.. actually not... but I believe god will help me!

New Russian: Okay, do you have a job?

Boyfriend: No... but... I believe god will help me!

New Russian: Alright, how are you planning to feed my daughter and your children, if you will have any?

Boyfriend: Er... I... don't really know yet.. but I'm sure god will help me with this one aswell!

  After a few more questions and answers like this the boyfriend leaves the room and goes home. The daughter comes to her dad and asks him

 Daugther: So dad, how do you like him?

New Russian: Well he's kind of a loser, but he is honest and I really like how he calls me.

  • Animals. These jokes are based around animal behavior stereotypes, which have their roots in Russian Mythology and Tales: the violent Wolf, the sneaky (female) Fox, the cocky coward Hare, the strong, simple-minded Bear, and the king of animal kingdom Lion. The Hedgehog is a complex case, since he is basically the all-round Russian penguin.
    • Also a cockerel or rooster, however jokes featuring a cockerel only really work if you know from the start of the joke he's supposed to be a closet homosexual: these jokes made more sense back when the Soviet Union criminalised homosexuality and have been dying out since the 90’s. This comes from petukh (cockerel) being a Fenya term for a passive homosexual. A typical story would be the Wolf, the hare and a cockerel in a holding cell awaiting trial and telling each other what they are in there for: the Wolf will go on a long story about he started a fight and beat someone up, but that they deserved it and he doesn’t deserve to be there, the hare will tell an equally long tale where he will come over as a cocky but cowardly thief, black-marketer or conman but that he doesn’t deserve to be there because he’s not really done anything that wrong, and the cockerel will listen to both of their long and complicated stories and then just say “Me, oh. I’m a political prisoner: I pecked [name of unpopular local bigwig/ “Young pioneer”/ “Soviet new man”] in the Arse.”
  • The Golden Fish is the Russian equivalent of a Genie in a Bottle (with whom it is interchangeable), first appearing in a poem by Alexander Pushkin. The story usually revolves around a person finding/catching a Golden Fish and being granted three wishes, after which Hilarity Ensues. Sometimes, three people are granted one wish each.
    • "Three men, stranded on an island, catch the Golden Fish and are granted one wish each. The first one says: 'I want to go home,' and disappears. The second one says: 'I want to go home, too,' and also disappears. The third one says: 'I'm alone. I want a bottle of vodka and those two to come back here.'"
      • The joke is lost on non-Russians and even some modern Russians, but in the Soviet times three was considered the optimal number of people for collective drinking. The reason for that was that the price of a bottle of vodka was 2 roubles 87 kopecks, so if each person contributed a rouble they could buy a bottle and 13 kopecks' worth of snacks.
      • A similar joke is common in the west, but usually has the three characters as a brunette, a redhead and a blonde. Guess which one wishes for the other two to return?
      • And then there's the other variation with character traits and yet another one with nationalities. Now, guess who's the third nationality?
  • Drunkards. These jokes usually revolve around a drunkard's ill-fated attempts to get another bottle of vodka, since sale of alcohol to drunk persons was outlawed in Soviet Union.
  • Policemen (-Militsiya- Politsiya since march 2011). These revolve the stereotype of a dim-witted, corrupt law officer, which was formed during the worse times in the Soviet Union and Russia (read: 1990s).

  Subversion: "A Toyota car is driving through downtown Moscow on a winter night and stops on a crossing where a policeman is keeping watch. A Japanese tourist gets out and asks the policeman: 'Oyasuminasai. Sumimasen, omawaru-san, doko de watashi wa kono yukitoshi ni Coca-Cola no kan'o koubaimasu ka?' The policeman hesitates a little, then replies: 'Excuse me, I didn't quite understand... You asked, where in this sad, snowy city you can buy a can of... what exactly?'"

 Q: Why do policemen travel in threes?

A: One to read, one to write, and one to keep an eye on the two intellectuals.

    • Another versions of the same joke:

 Q: Why do policemen travel in threes?

A: One to read, one to write, and one to keep an eye on the two intellectuals.

Suddenly, three policemen come from behind.

Policeman A: What did you say? Produce ID! (examines the documents, turns to policeman B) Write down their names!

  • Ethnic stereotypes. The Russians have a lot of ethnic stereotypes similar to Rabinovich above. A typical joke goes like "An Englishman, a French guy, and a Russian sit in a bar..." and is quite similar to analogous jokes in British humour. Favorite targets are:
    • Chukchi, the native people of Chukotka related to Northwestern Native Americans, are the all-time favorites, often seen as generally primitive, uncivilized and simple-minded, but clever and philosophic in a naive kind of way.

 Chukchee: Hey, I was in the city, purchased TV, however.

Geologist: Dude, you need an outlet to plug TV in!

Chukchee: Do you think I'm silly? I purchased an outlet too!

 Tourist (got lost in Tundra and in panic): Hey! People!

Chukchee (walks from behind nearby hillock): Ah. So here in Tundra it sounds as "hey, people!". And back in Moscow it's "hey you, plate with ears!", eh?

  A Chukcha is spotted playing chess with a polar bear. People say, "Look, such a smart bear!" "Not so smart, - says the Chukcha, - I'm leading 3 to 2!"

    • Sometimes, the character of the naive Chuckcha was used to vocalise things an average Soviet citizen would never say.

 I've been to Moscow. Seen great placards: "Everything in the name of Man, everything for the good of Man!" Also seen that man.

(referring to the General Secretary of the Communist Party, who could be seen on national holidays receiving parades in Red Square.)

    • Ukrainians are depicted as rustic, greedy and fond of salo (pork fatback).

 An Ukrainian is asked if he can eat 5 kilograms of apples.

"I can."

"And 10 kilograms?"

"I can."

"How about a wagon of apples?"

"I can't, but I will bite them all!"

    • Georgians are perceived as Hot-Blooded, Highlander types and usually very rich. Also, they have a ludicrous accent (also seen in Stalin jokes) and sometimes are Ambiguously Gay. For instance, it is said that in common showers or public bathhouses it's best not to bend down for soap when Georgians are around.

  A group of Georgians is taking a shower. Suddenly one of them drops the only bar of soap. "Here goes the bathing", says someone.

      • Also, widely perceived as buying their way through life (for a Soviet Republic, Georgia enjoyed a good amount of economic freedom and Georgians tended to be rich compared to the rest of the population). At the same time, their adherence to highlander honor was recognised.

  A Georgian in a restaurant gazes fondly at his new Ph.D. degree. The waiter asks sarcastically: "Bought it?" "Why bought? - replies the Georgian indignantly, - It's a present from friends!"

      • In the 90-s, many Georgians took to selling their national fast foods on the streets in large Russian cities.

  "Hey mister, did this meat bark or meow?" "It asked stupid questions".

    • Armenians. Same as Georgians. Minus the Hotblooded part. A meta joke has people telling Georgians jokes about Armenians and vice versa.
      • The fictional Armenian Radio is used in jokes with questions and answers (usually revolving around sex and politics).

 Q: Will the new world war happen?

Armenian Radio: No, but there'll be such a struggle for peace that not one stone will be left upon another.

 Q: How do you make Turkish coffee?

A: You kill a bunch of Armenian coffee beans, then lie about it for a hundred years.

    • Estonians and Finns are commonly seen as very slow-witted (partly due to their tendency to speak Russian very slowly compared to native speakers) and ironically referred to as "Hot-Blooded Estonian/Finnish guys".

  Announcer in the Estonian subway: Theee neeeext staaation iiis... Heeere it iiis...

    • Jews. See Rabinovich above.
    • Chinese. Most jokes revolve around their sheer numbers and sometimes backwardness mixed with ambition.

 Chinese invented a new superweapon: a giant slingshot. Some 500 million Chinese hold the frame, while another 500 million pull the string.

As a measure to curb population growth, the Chinese Government decided to launch 100,000 astronauts on a one-way expedition to the Sun.

In other news, the Chinese space expedition exceeded expectations: 200,000 Chinese didn't let go of the slingshot in time, and were launched into space along with the spacecraft.

The Chinese Government asked for help in curbing population grown. Europeans, Americans and Japanese all offered latest developments in birth control, but they were all too slow and expensive. The Russians offered to do it for free and in an instant, and won the contract. So they lined up 100 million Chinese males, and commanded: "Ten-hut! Put down your pants! Turn to your right! Bend down and take your neighbour's balls in your mouth!" Then a soldier came to one end of the line, and kicked the first Chinese in the balls. The sound of "Chomp, chomp, chomp..." receded in the distance...

Two submarines, one U.S. and one Chinese, collided in the Yellow Sea yesterday. American casualties: 50 sailors. Chinese casualties: 3,000 oarsmen.

      • Alternatively, the jokes are about Chinese language, whose words often sound inherently funny or obscene to a Russian ear.
    • Africans. In jokes, they are usually exchange students suffering from cold weather and explicit (yet unintended) racist sayings by straightforward Russians.

 An African exchange student writes a letter to his family:

"Dear Mom and Dad, my life here is unbearable. I could endure green winter, but when white winter came..."

      • An African student met on his turf in an anecdote is likely to be a chief of a Cannibal Tribe.

  Two African tribes established an alliance and conquered the third. One of victorious chiefs tells another while eating the defeated chief: "Not very tasty". "Yep. Though still better than what we had to eat at Lumumba University refectory". (Lumumba University is an university in Moscow that specializes on educating foreigners, mostly from Third World countries).

    • Russians. Largely self-referential humor, which sets Russian ethnic jokes apart from most others. The Russians are depicted as simple-minded, negligently careless, fond of alcohol but physically robust. Sometimes fatalistic about the general state of affairs.

  An American, a French guy and a Russian are on a death row. As an trial, they are put into empty detention cells, given two large steel spheres each and told to do something extraordinary with them, in which case they will be free. On the next morning, their captors check on them. The American managed to put one sphere on top of the other. "Nice", say the judges. The Frenchman learned to juggle them in any ways possible. "Impressive" is the reaction. The Russian sits, holding his head in despair. "What's the matter? Where the hell are your spheres?" judges say, astonished. He replies: "I broke one and lost the other".

  An American, a French guy and a Russian are sentenced to death. Each is allowed to choose the method of execution. The Frenchman goes first, and chooses a guillotine. But the guillotine is not working, so they set him free. As he passes by the American, he whispers: "The guillotine is broken", so the American also chooses the guillotine, and is also set free. As the American passes by the Russian, he whispers: "The guillotine is broken". "Well, since the guillotine is broken, - says the Russian, - then give me the firing squad!"

  A Russian spy is caught by Nazis during WWII. They torture him all night long, but he doesn't tell them anying. They put him back in the cell and observe secretly through the peep-hole. The Russian is hitting himself on the head and saying: "Here's one for the restaurants! Here's one for the girls! I knew I should have been learning codes and secret addresses!" Finally he manages to escape. To his comrades, he says: "Guys, learn all this stuff! Or they beat the crap out of you out there!"

  An American, a French guy and a Russian are sitting next to bonfire. The American says: "You know, I'm very proud of my nation. For example, I can swim 5 kilometers, run 20 kilometers, and not even break a sweat after all of this!". The Frenchman says: "Meh, our nation is way better. For example, I can swim 10 kilometers, run 40 kilometers, and not even break a sweat after all of this!". The Russian remained silent, only stirring the bonfire with his dick.

  • Military jokes. Much like policemen and Chapaev jokes, these revolve around interaction between dim-witted non-commissioned and warrant officers and intelligent privates, who are usually conscripted students.

 Officer: Dig from here till dinner!

Officer: Sinus alpha during wartime may be up to ten. (sinus of, ergh, any real angle, is within [-1,1] interval. your Captain Obvious)

Officer: There are two opinions: my and erroneous ones.

Student [at a military academy examination]: A shell launched from a cannon will fly in an arc towards Earth.

Examining officer [with a cunning grin]: And if a cannon lies on its side, will a shell from it fly around the corner?

Student: Yes sir, it would! But that's against the regulations!

  • "Industrial" jokes. Russians mock their own often ineffective and military-centered industry, as well as questionable work discipline and widespread workplace theft. There is a recurring theme of the Cluster F-Bomb "language" that workers use — the extremely offensive but wonderfully versatile Russian Mat replacing all nouns, verbs, adjectives —, with the traditional joke being that when their new boss orders them to clean up their language, the whole factory grinds to a halt. At the same time, these often proliferate the (often founded) myth of Russians possessing a miraculous resourcefulness, enabling them to achieve stupefying results seemingly effortless, with zero resources and despite total disarray surrounding them (Russians have a special word for that bedlam-like irresponsible disarray, bardak (lit. whorehouse), which they like to use to describe the state of things in Motherland).

  The Japanese have bought a license for an advanced Russian jet. They assemble it exactly by the blueprints, and it turns out to be a steam locomotive. They check the blueprints, gather their best engineers and assemble it again. Still locovotive. They file a complain to the Russians, so the Russian team arrives, goes into the workshop and shortly produces a perfectly good jet. The Japanese are astonished: "We've tried it again and again and only got a steam train!" "Why, of course," - reply the Russians - "did you Read the Fine Print? First you get a steam train. And then you work on it with a rasp."

  • Black humor. A very popular subgenre which makes fun of (and exaggerates) the more morbid aspects of Russian life, leading to a sometimes tilted perception of it by foreigners. These jokes frequently revolve around medicine (ill people and doctors), Chernobyl victims, and various disabilities.

 "Nurse, where're we going?"

"To the morgue."

"But I am not dead yet!"

"Well, we are not there yet, either." (variation: "Doctor said - morgue, so morgue it is!")

    • Sometimes involves more-or-less religious material as well, since the Soviet regime tended to punish the free expression of both religion and black humor (and then people engaged in both anyway as soon as the humorless atheist officials' backs were turned).

 A peasant dies and goes to Hell, but discovers when he gets there that there are actually two versions of Hell: Capitalist Hell and Communist Hell. Since he's never actually seen a capitalist system before, he decides to have a look at Capitalist Hell first. When he gets there, he finds a huge empty antechamber with a demon who looks a lot like Ronald Reagan standing at the gates.

Peasant: "So, what is Capitalist Hell like?"

Reagan: "Well, in Capitalist Hell, first we flay all the flesh off your bones with our whips, then we boil you in oil for a while, and finally we cut you to pieces with our knives and scatter you all over the room."

Peasant: "Augh! That's hideous! Forget you! I'm going to go try Communist Hell instead!"

So the peasant goes to Communist Hell. When he gets there, he finds an enormous line of people awaiting entry that's backed up all the way out of the antechamber. Being used to waiting in lines, of course, he stands in this one for as long as it takes, which is for more than a month. When he finally gets up near the gates, he sees a demon who looks a lot like Karl Marx standing at the gates and looking very exasperated at how slowly the line is moving.

Peasant: "So, what is Communist Hell like?"

Marx: "*Sigh* Do I have to explain this again? All right. In Communist Hell, first we flay all the flesh off your bones with our whips, then we boil you in oil for a while, and finally we cut you to pieces with our knives and scatter you all over the room."

Peasant: "Augh! That's just as hideous as Capitalist Hell! But... why is there this long line, comrade?"

Marx: "*Sigh* Well, sometimes we run out of knives, sometimes there's an oil shortage, and other times we don't have enough leather for the whips, and sometimes all the demons are away on a Party meeting..."

 Satan is giving a politician a tour of Hell. They come to a huge kettle at which a lot of demons are gathered and busy thrusting away at all the people being boiled in it with their tridents.

Satan: "This is where we keep the Jews. They're a troublesome lot, these Hebrews; every time one of them tries to escape, the others all follow his lead, so they keep our guards really busy."

Next they come to another huge kettle in which just a few demons are gathered around mostly leaning on their tridents and looking bored.

Satan: "This is where we keep the Poles. They're only a little trouble, since every time one of them tries to escape, the others just ignore him. We only have to keep a few guards around to make sure none of them ever gets out."

Finally, they come to another kettle just as big as the others, but there's no one guarding it.

Satan: "This is where we keep the Russians. Whenever one of them tries to escape, the others all grab him by the heels and drag him back in!"

 During the 1930s, a Party commissioner is inspecting a typical farming village. He goes to the headman and asks how the potato harvest has gone.

Headman: Comrade, the potatoes, when piled up, reach to the feet of God!

Commissioner: Excellent! But, I hope you're aware that God doesn't actually exist.

Headman:: Indeed. Nor do the potatoes!

    • "Sadist couplets", forming a good chunk of children folklore but not limited to it. Involves heavy machinery, lost military hardware, Ax Crazy people, etc. Usually Crosses the Line Twice in the first two lines and then each next tries to top the previous one.
      • The rhyme "I got bitten by a hippopotamus... So now i'm here and my leg's over there" is so mild a search shows it's recommended for a summer camps' game that involves tracking the narrator's appendages already removed by that hippo in the long version. And a reminder that you don't want to play a chew toy for an ill-tempered living truck, however superfluous it seems to be.
  • Mothers in Law.
    • Something like: My love to your mother is measured in kilometres (between us).
  • Man, his wife and her lover - very popular story pattern. Almost always begins with "Man came home after business trip and his wife is with a lover". Hilarity Ensues. In this plot lover may try to hide in a wardrobe or under the bed, escape from the apartment or convince husband that he is not a lover.
    • A man came home after a business trip. The same day in the middle of the night a naked man with a knife jumps out of the wardrobe and shouts: "I am fugitive criminal Ivanov!" and then run through the door. A few second after that another naked man jumps out of wardrobe and shouts "I am police detective Petrov, have you seen where fugitive criminal Ivanov gone?" The confused husband gestured to the door. "Thank you, citizen, SWAT team, follow me!"
  • Political/historical "anecdotes", a venerable genre that descended from anecdotes in the classical sense and was already quite popular in the early 19th century (Pushkin was pretty fond of them). Those are mostly jokes about Russian (and later Soviet, and now Russian again) rulers, revolving around their most famous achievements and facts related to them mentioned in history textbooks, famous quotes (such as Lenin's "Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country!", often treated as a mathematical formula that can therefore also be written as "Soviet power is communism minus electricity" and so on), other phrases commonly associated with them (like Peter the Great's "cutting a window into Europe") and various "characteristic traits", like Stalin's arbitrary trigger-happiness, Lenin's and Stalin's funny accents, Brezhnev's senility and Yeltsin's alcoholism. Stalin jokes seem particularly popular no matter what, though, probably because he fits the archetype of the smug, whimsical, unrestrained tyrant so very well and also happens to overlap with ethnic jokes about Georgians:

 NKVD major: "We arrested this man for treason!"

Stalin (with an untranslatable thick Georgian accent): "What did he do?"

NKVD major: "He was saying: "Damn that mustached bastard for ruining the country!""

Stalin: "Is that so? And who did you mean by that, comrade?"

Russian everyman: "Naturally I meant Hitler, comrade Stalin!"

Stalin (very smug, accent very thick): "And who did you mean, comrade major?" ("A vi, tavarisch mayor?" in original "Russian"; the "vi" instead of "vy" is a particularly common Georgian accent trope. Emphasizing "you" when it could make someone sweat was his habit in Real Life.)

    • Supplemented recently with the jokes about the peculiar nature of Putin/Medvedev duo, namely the ambiguous distribution of power between them:

 Medvedev makes last-minute preparations for a speech. His aid suddenly addresses him:

"Dmitry Anatolievych, you've got a string caught on your sleeve. Oh, and on the other one too!"

Putin intervenes:

"Leave them be. These are much needed strings."

  ...But of course, he's crazy. Because the REAL Napoleon Bonaparte is ME!

    • Well, this is not nessesary funny, because of political abuse of psychiatry in USSR time, nicknames as Карательная психиатрия (punitive psychiatry). Some asylums got funny names, based on word-plays and later influenced internet culture.

Russian humor is extremely pervasive. Almost every print publication will have at least a few jokes in it, up to and including the TV guide. They say that while in most countries, The Internet Is for Porn, in Russia, the Internet Is For Jokes.

Not to be confused with the Russian Reversal.

 Waldorf: Хе Статлер, почему мы говорим в плох переведенном русском?[1]

Statler: Я думаю, кто-то использовал Бабелфиш для бедного юмором![2]

Waldorf: Так я угадываю мы не даже нужный в советском Россия.[3]

Statler: Почему это?[4]

Waldorf: В советском Россия, тропэры делают дурачков себя![5]

Both: До-хо-хо-хо-хо-хо-хо![6]


  1. Hey Statler, why are we talking in badly translated Russian?
  2. I think someone with a poor sense of humor used Babelfish!
  3. So I guess even we don't want to do a Soviet Russia joke.
  4. Why is that?
  5. In Soviet Russia, tropers make idiots of themselves!
  6. Do-ho-ho-ho-hoh!
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