Monday, December 31, 2018
Staunton, December 30 – Russians have always been among the leaders of the world in telling jokes and anecdotes, not only because such stories say a great deal in a few words but because they often permit a certain amount of deniability, a requirement in the increasingly repressive times of Vladimir Putin.
The current period of Putin anecdotes began in 2014 with one that has become nearly universal in Russia: A Russian goes into a drug store to buy an anti-depressant. The clerk asks him for a prescription, and the Russian replies, “Isn’t a Russian passport sufficient for that?” (republic.ru/posts/92797).
This year the number of jokes and anecdotes in Russia appears to have exploded, apparently a countervailing trend to economic and political decline. Many are worth recalling because of the well-known Polish explanation of why people stop telling jokes: When times are bad, the Pole says, people tell political jokes. When times get worse, they stop.
Three excellent collections of Russian jokes have appeared this week (anekdot.ru/release/anekdot/year/2018/2, maximonline.ru/humor/made-in-web/_article/luchshie-anekdotyi-2018-goda/ and novayagazeta.ru/articles/2018/12/26/79055-282-mema-uhodyaschego-goda).
Here is a selection of 25 of the best of them to end 2018:
- Anti-Russian sanctions are directed against certain citizens of Russia, but our counter-sanctions are directed against all citizens of Russia except for certain ones.
- New President Putin has taken into consideration all the mistakes of old President Putin and in place of old prime minister Medvedev has appointed new prime minister Medvedev.
- The Russian prostitutes’ union has announced that it will send to deputies and officials only “the most experienced and honored” members of their profession, those who have “achieved the pre-pension age of 63.”
- The president has declared that Russian citizens are “ready to give life for the Fatherland.” I as a conscientious citizen am ready. I have a long list of people whose life I am ready to give for the Fatherland and I’m certain that the Fatherland will benefit.”
- After Putin says he can nuke New York, Lavrov telephones Shoygu and asks him to spare New York because he has a daughter there. The defense minister says that other officials have also asked him to spare various foreign cities because their children are living in them. As a result, Shoygu says, he plans to target Novgorod. After all, the defense minister says, Russia has two of them.
- Estonia has recalled its ambassador from the German Democratic Republic.
- An entire generation of Russians has grown up without the benefits of seeing a pompous Kremlin funeral.
- Good news and bad: Putin has spoken out against restrictions on the Internet, but “this is the very same Putin who was against raising the pension age.”
- Banning access to the Internet isn’t enough. Russians must be prohibited from looking out the window because what they will see there will be an offense to a great power.
- A state in which everyone owns a gun is a different state than one in which everyone owns a television.
- Trump says the Crimea is Russian because everyone speaks Russian there. Apparently he hasn’t been to Brighton Beach.
- Putin shows a cartoon in which Russian rockets can hit any place on earth. But even a cartoon can’t show how to defeat poverty and corruption in Russia?
- Do you know why the police can’t arrest criminals? Because most of them outrank the man on the beat.
- Doctor, don’t you recognize me? A patient asks. I’m the one who sold you your medical diploma.
- A government consists of people who take our money, keep part for themselves, and use the rest to create problems for us.
- In the future, Russians will be forced to respond to the following question: “Did you or any of your close relatives during the period of pension reform belong to the Presidential Administration, the government or any other criminal group?”
- Putin is asked whether it might be better to raise taxes on the oligarchs than cut pensions for the elderly. He responds that he has “already raised this possibility with the oligarchs and they are against it.”
- What is your nationality? A Russian resident is asked. “Why do you ask?” His interlocutor says “You’ve already answered it.”
- The reason there isn’t enough money for pensions is not that there aren’t enough pensioners but that there are too many billionaires.
- ATMs in Moscow when a customer asks for his balance respond “Hold on!”
- The main events of 2018 – the election of a president of Russia and the holding of an Olympics without Russians.
- A Russian bride is asked if she agrees to live for richer or poorer, in health or sickness until death do you part. She replies “yes, no, yes, no, no.”
- The Kremlin carefully monitors the situation in Kyiv. It ignores that in Voronezh, Chita and Saratov.
- Patriotism, Russians say, “is a precise, clear and well-argued explanation of why we must live worse than others.”
- Russia is experiencing a demographic crisis: the number of those who can steal continues to grow but the number who can do something useful continues to fall.