Staunton, Dec. 21 – Humor has always been one of the ways Russians have coped with difficulties, and Putin’s expanded invasion of Ukraine has so shocked many Russians that there has been a rebirth of the political anecdote, according to Aleksandra Akhipova, a folklorist who has collected 14,000 jokes Russians have posted online since February 24.
She says that the jokes represent a more honest description of Russian feelings about and even opposition to the war than do public opinion polls, and her research has allowed her to reach several conclusions about the gallows humor that animates so many of the jokes (cherta.media/interview/anekdoty-i-yumor-vo-vremya-vojny/).
Most of the anecdotes are being told by people between the ages of 40 and 60 who are old enough to remember the jokes of Soviet and immediate post-Soviet times. Most – 84 percent – are the work of people with higher education, and 43 percent are from one of the two capitals, Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Her academic study of the rise of this form of humor is of course interesting -- she says most jokes now have ordinary Russians as their subjects rather than Putin or some other notable, but the anecdotes she illustrates her findings with are perhaps even more so. Below are a dozen of the best of these:
· “Good day! Here is your draft notice.” “But with whom will we be fighting?” “With the fascists, of course!” “But against whom?”
· Putin opens a refrigerator and it begins to shake so he says “I’m just here for the ketchup.”
· “Which concentration camp are you being sent to?” “I don’t know; I’m not interested in politics.”
· “Nothing will force me to go to war.” “How about your mortgage payment?” “Well, maybe that.”
· A man runs into a drug store and asks for antidepressants. When the clerk asks him for his prescription, he asks in return “isn’t a Russian passport enough?”
· “Rabinovich, we’ve come to arrest you for insulting the Russian army.” “But I haven’t,” Rabinovich says. “Well don’t delay, Rabinovich. Do it quickly and come with us.”
· The five stages of coming to terms with the invasion: denial, anger, making deals, depression, Kazakhstan.
· A Russian complains that he bought an apartment with smart technology but before he could move in, the apartment moved out of Russia.
· Two worms emerge from a rotten apple. One sees a beautiful apple nearby and asks why don’t they move there, to which his companion says, but the rotten one is our Motherland.
· “Mother, I’ve been taken prisoner in Ukraine.” “Who are you?” “I’m you son.” “But according to the television, I have a daughter.”
· “I don’t know why my son came home in a casket because I’m not interested in politics.”
· “Mama, life at the front is a meatgrinder.” “Forget that,” she says, “I already have one of those. Get a blender.”