Talk:Russian humour

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Former featured article candidateRussian humour is a former featured article candidate. Please view the links under Article milestones below to see why the nomination failed. For older candidates, please check the archive.
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A fact from this article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "Did you know?" column on April 26, 2004.
The text of the entry was: Did you know ...that Russian humor thrived even during the Soviet stagnation period of the 1970s and 1980s?
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old comments[edit]

A fascinating article!

As to offensiveness of ethnic jokes[edit]

These are facts of folklore, to be covered in any encyclopedis work. Wikipedia means no offense to the nations mentioned. If anybody is to be offended, that would rather be Russians, who show such an attitude towards other nations. Jews have much worse jokes abouth themselves. Mikkalai 03:32, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

A lot of Russian humour seems to be the same as Polish humour, it seems. I have no idea that the joke about Sahara, tomatoes etc. are from Russia and don't know that they have rabbit series and "Pole, German and Russian" series too Szopen 07:50, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Please keep in mind that the term "Russian humour" is like "Humour in circulation in Russia", rather than "Humour invented in Russia". I know a good deal of jokes about modern Russian realities with plots that can be found in ancient Arabic manuscripts. And there are quite a few jokes about Russian presidents/ general secretaries I was amazed to learn are told about American presidents, too. Mikkalai 16:15, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Great article - funny too. I don't see any reason to complain about the jokes - that what humour is all about. (mind you, I'm russian and jewish). Are there any articles on any other ethnic senses of humour?Datepalm17 14:45, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

See Humour. Mikkalai 16:15, 25 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I'm not Russian, not Ukrainian, not African, and probably not very smart either. Could someone please explain this one: An Ukrainian and an African sit in a train compartment. The African takes out a banana. The Ukrainian wonders what that is, and the African shares his banana with him. The Ukrainian then takes out some bacon. The African wonders what that is and asks if he may try it. The Ukrainian replies "It's just common bacon, why try it?" Thanks (ROTFL in advance)

This joke is based on a stereotype of a Ukrainian. Traditionally, ukrainian peasants were hard-working, but they were not so eager to share their property with strangers. (In particular, they were known as stiff opponents to collectivization.) Therefore an Ukrainian in Russian anecdotes is sometimes an analog of Scrooge McDuck (but the one who loves bacon with one-way idea of sharing. Mikkalai 06:08, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Ukrainians in Russian humour are a bit on the sly side and are absolutely addicted to and obsessed with bacon (a national dish and, in humour, a bit of a national symbol). It's a humourous stereotype. Ukrainians in Russian humour are supposed to complain that someone (generally, Russians) is trying to lay their grubby hands on their precious SALO (bacon). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:22, 29 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Salo (food) is neither bacon nor lard. --Cubbi 21:28, 29 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]


In the kocherga joke, the genitive plural is used. This is the possessive form, meaning the pokers are possessing something. Is this correct? If some workers needed to requisition fireplace pokers, why would they need to know the genitive plural? What are the pokers possessing? Tuf-Kat 06:18, Apr 26, 2004 (UTC)

You got it wrong, man, read wikipedia (genitive) (tuf-kat writer? :-) Mikkalai 07:09, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Please note that the kocherga joke is not a play on words for political satire in the strict sense. It is only political in as much as it depicts Soviet officials as illiterates, and illustrates the absurdity of Soviet officialdom. --Kolt 08:44, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Actually, even in English we sometimes use something like a genitive in this type of context: "I'll have six of the blue ones." -- Jmabel 17:37, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Since I can't vouch for the authenticity of this (which I have often heard repeated in the West), I'm leaving it in the talk page, but if it's legit it certainly belongs in the article: Brezhnev-era description of the Soviet social contract: "We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us." Can anyone vouch for the joke being of Soviet origin rather than (say) US propaganda? -- Jmabel 06:32, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Actually, you got it upside down: "They pretend to pay, and we pretend to work". Even if it was a political diversion of US, it was a pretty popular say. And btw., it was not joke. Mikkalai 07:04, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I inserted another joke illustrating allegedly obsessive anti-Russian feelings among Ukrainians. The one with the elephants ("The Ukrainian elephant: the best friend of the Russian elephant") does not illustrate that. In fact, in cold war times that would have been the title of the book about the Bulgarian elephant. ("The Soviet elephant: the best elephant in the world" and "The Bulgarian elephant: the best friend of the Soviet elephant"). --Kolt 08:44, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)

You shortened it and misrepresented. It was very popular among Russians, and it goes through several nationalities. One version goes something like: an American issued an booklet "All about elephants". A German issued a tri-volume set "Briefly about elefants". A Texan issued a seven-feet high and two feet thick book "Elephants of Texas". (here go Russian and bulgarian ones) Zbigniew Brzezinski printed "Soviet elefants in global domination", ... launched a serial Russian elephants are coming! Russian elephants are coming! A Chinese issued.... etc.

Don't turn it into a book[edit]

As I see, many of you have favorite jokes to enter. I am afraid, that would be too much for an encyclopedia. After Perestroika many Russian book publishers made quick bucks on printing books of anecdotes. I have an incomplete series of 7 books 500 pages each.

So IMO a reasonable idea would be to have one-two jokes related to Russian realities, on each topic, clearly indicated. Mikkalai 19:01, 26 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I agree, Mikkalai. Some of the new ones aren't even particularly Russian. --Kolt 09:56, 27 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Featured Article candidacy comments (not promoted)[edit]

(Contested -- July 7)

funny and informative Avala 20:10, 7 Jul 2004 (UTC)

  • Oppose. Seems to mostly be a list of Russian jokes. Should be about Russian humor, with examples as needed - not just a list of jokes. For a broad and potentially subjective topic like this, also, some citation and verifiability would be nice - surely there are some scholarly or popular surveys of Russian humor that could be cited. Also, for the current title, should deal with more than simple jokes. Snowspinner 20:41, Jul 7, 2004 (UTC)
  • Oppose, for the reasons Snowspinner pointed out, as well as formatting issues. Ambivalenthysteria 09:46, 8 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  • Oppose. Not mature. Some jokes are not specifically of Russian gist. Mikkalai 17:26, 28 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Correction:Poruchik Rzhevski's origin[edit]

Poruchik Rzhevski is a character from "Gusarskaya Ballada" ("Ballade of Hussars") movie (USSR, 1962, directed by Eldar Ryazanov), see Cast: Yuri Yakovlev

Rzhevski from movie is a totally different personality than that from the jokes. However his hame has funny associations in Russian language. Besides, the movie (a comedy) was extremely popular. These could be probable reasons for this series of jokes. Mikkalai 17:42, 28 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • There are two hipotheses of its origin. In Russia, there was a practice that when a bastard of a nobleman was semi-formally recognized, he was given a truncated name of the father: Trubetskoy -> Betskoy (Трубецкой->Бецкой), Komissarzhevski ->Rzhevsky (Комиссаржевский->Ржевский). On the other hand, a boyar Rzhevski is already known from the times of Peter I. There is an ancient Russian city Rzhev. But it is not common in Russia to give names after cities.
  • What is more important for the topic is that the name is funny. The Russian werb Ржать (Rzhat) means 'to neigh', as well as 'to laugh loudly and coarsely' (a hint to a horse, of course).
Hussars and women is a well-known combination. Here comes the name, and it clicks! Mikkalai 18:12, 28 Aug 2004 (UTC)
He's just a symbol of an obscene, dumb, womanizing, low-ranking military man. He does not fit into society very well and the jokes revolve around him shocking various proper ladies with his attempts gruff attempts to woo them (although, sometimes, about his rude behaviour with a romantic partner). Basically, he drinks like a fish, constantly curses, and tries to screw anything that moves (sometimes, not limited to women, or even to human beings).

Recent Examples[edit]

(removed from article, Mikkalai 18:20, 28 Aug 2004 (UTC)) New jokes are being created every day. Here are some top-rated examples from 2004, from a major Russian humor site, link provided below:

  • Ivanov comes to Petrov and asks, "how do you manage to get so much milk from your cow?" Petrov says, "You have to be gentle. Every morning I approach my cow and ask it very gently, 'Which will it be, milk or beef?' ".
  • Spiderman is not aftaid of anyone. Except for the Slippers-man.
  • "You, men, only want sex. But we, women, want attention!" -- "Attention! We are going to have sex!"

Max Otto von Stierlitz[edit]

In German media the name is usually spelled as Max Otto von Stierlitz, not Stirlitz (notice 'tir' in place of 'tier'). Can a native-German speaker comment on this please? --Gene s 13:33, 30 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Stirlitz is a different character entirely. He is FICTIONAL, although allegedly based on real persons. Stirlitz is the cover of a Soviet intelligence operative in Hitler's SS in a massively popular television mini-series. In the film, he is a fiercely loyal, highly moral officer, a shining beacon of good, patriotism, duty, and devotion to the USSR. However, IN JOKES, he is quite thick-headed, but surrounded by even dafter Nazi officers, and the punchlines are plays on words. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:33, 29 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Poruchik Rzhevskiy[edit]

This is the first time I've ever heard that Rzhevskiy uses a lot of French words. Usually his speech is unique in that he adds the suffix "-s" to random words (usually at the end of a sentence), e.g. "Net-s, silniy veter-s." as the ending to the joke where he goes outside to pee. I actually have no idea of where the "-s" suffix originates from, does anyone know? --Aramgutang 06:43, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)

No French words?: "Pardon-s, madam-s, hujniu sporol-s!" Unfortunately Internet humor and books of anecdotes printed after "perestroika" killed elegant Russian narrative in anecdotes. IMO written anecdote is like sex without love. An anecdote must be told, with embellishments, dramatic pauses and stuff. Otherwise it is "seks v podvorotne".
Unfortunately, "-s" is meaningless in English translations.
"-s". Before 1917 it was written "-съ" and called "словоерс", from the way the syllables were spelt in Russian schools: "баба" was spelt by a student in this way: "буки-аз-ба, буки-аз-ба".
Similarly, "-съ" was spelt "слово-ер-с". Now you may search google for "словоерс" and "словоер". IMO the best description gives Lev Uspensky in his "A Word about Words" (Слово о словах).
Кроме "сударя" возможен еще более древний источник, уважительное обращение "старый", следы которого мы находим в "пожалуйста".
За двойственность этимологии словоерса говорит тот факт, что сравнительно недавно (чуть ли не в XVIII веке) в ходу были обе "промежуточные" формы: "-ста" и "-су", например "Василий-ста" и "извольте-су". При этом "-ста" - более простонародное, "-су" более "благородного" происхождения, но слились в один словоерс "-с".
Mikkalai 07:25, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Hmmm, you're right about the French words, I guess they are so commonly used nowadays that it's hard to notice that they're French anymore. And thanks a lot for the explanation about the -s, very interesting. --Aramgutang 08:05, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)
He's just trying to sound smart and cultured (and failing miserably at it). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:38, 29 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

[ Russian humour ][edit]

Actually, i have read a LOT of those jokes in quite old POLISH anecdotal books. Some of them are with slight changes (e,g, Polish elephant except of Russian elephant, or "hrabia" instead of Rzhevsky, all the Jokes about Russians in space, political ones etc). I wonder how many of those are specifically Russian, and how many of those are common central-eastern European property Szopen 06:49, 21 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Actually, I have read a LOT in American anecdotal books. In fact, it was a strong suspicion that most political jokes were invented and propagated by Voice of America and Liberty radios. In fact, in many cases their style makes it hard to believe they are folk humor. Clearly, it is very difficult to trace the origins of jokes. So, let's say these jokes are about Russia. And your remark about Polish books most certainly belongs to the article, not to the talk.Mikkalai 14:55, 21 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Oh well, far better than people putting things in the article that certainly belong on "talk". -- Jmabel 18:36, Sep 21, 2004 (UTC)


While they are popular among Russians, afaik, this tradition is generally attributed to peoples of Caucasus. Any comments? mikka (t) 07:46, 14 July 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Just a speculation on my part, maybe it is because of specific attitude of Caucasian toasts - a tradition, an important thing, but it is also good entertainment, so it's ought to be popular with other folks. Compare tea ceremony in Japan...well not exactly...but there are some places Western people (including and especially New Russians :) ) pay money to participate, for exotic entertainment. Toasts are less esoteric so it is much more widespread. (got to include nonsense warning in my sig)Gnomz007 18:11, 14 July 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Dump trucks?[edit]

I was wondering about the following translation:

Faintly arrived then a dump-body truck.

of this line:

Тихо подехал к нему самосвал.

It seems like a literal translation would be "a dump truck quietly arrived" or "a dump truck quietly approached him". What's the reason for "dump-body" - is there something I'm not getting here? -Seth Mahoney 02:23, 12 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Runglish :-). mikka (t) 04:04, 12 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I'm not sure I understand. -Seth Mahoney 02:03, 13 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Example of a joke during rule of Stalin.[edit]

Although I'm not sure of the Russian, I do remember one from studying the era:

"What do you think of Comrade Stalin, friend?"

"Why, the same as you do, comrade!"

"In that case, I must arrest you!"

EvocativeIntrigue TALK | EMAIL 21:28, 11 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Merging "Russian humour" and "Russian jokes"[edit]


What does everyone think about merging this Russian humour page with the Russian jokes page? They have overlapping information and I think elements from this page could be easily integrated into the introduction of the Russian jokes page. Let me know your thoughts.

Cactusbites (talk) 13:41, 28 November 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

  • Russian humour is a much broader topic than simple jokes, with it's own folk, literary, theatre and film traditions. The article is poorly written and I've been planning to rewrite it for a long time - and I will when I have time, so please don't delete it. Here are just some of the examples of Russian humour: Petrushka, skomorokh, rayok, carnivals/balagans, lubok, authors (Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin, Nikolai Gogol, Kozma Prutkov, Anton Chekhov, Mikhail Bulgakov, etc.), Satiricon magazine where Arkady Averchenko, Teffi, Sasha Chorny and others worked, and so on. AveTory (talk) 17:06, 28 November 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
    • I would support such a merge. I'm not targetting this or the jokes article specifically. As fascinating as the subject area is, Wikipedia is growing rife with 'xyz' stereotypes articles, 'xyz' humour articles, 'xyz' jokes, etc. Back to basics, none of these subjects are covered by reliable source - you'll find separate articles for individuals, individual plays, novels and such so, at best a list of wikilinks would suffice. First and foremost we follow policy, and all of this is original research. Cheers for hearing me out. Iryna Harpy (talk) 00:16, 22 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
      • "none of these subjects are covered by reliable source" I don't know about other articles on national humour, but if you read my recent entry here you'll find out that a whole chapter in Dmitry Likhachov's book is dedicated to the development of humour in Russian literature during the 17th century, which is, in turn, based on his previously published book "The World of Laughter of Ancient Rus'" that covers a much broader topic. There are plenty of books on Russian humour, including English-language books: [1], [2], [3]. Many books dedicated to humour in Soviet Russia, including the one already mentioned in the article. So no, there is no WP:OR. As for "Wikipedia is growing rife with articles" - this article exists since 2004. AveTory (talk) 12:47, 22 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
        • AveTory, my apologies for the brevity of my response. It was by no means intended to offend either you, or anyone else who has worked/is working on this article as I understand it to be in truly good faith and commitment to the subject. The fact is that in 2004, Wikipedia was a very different world with barely a policy or guidleline in place. Entire articles were written without so much as a single reference: see the inception of this article here, for example. Yes, the article has some sources, but that isn't actually 'many books' in the mainstream, but - rather - limited opinion pieces, had pre-existing blog and self-published source material. Aside from issues of potential paraphrasing. There is a fundamental problem in lack of attribution given that of the obscurity of the writers. The Britannica reference is to Denis Fonvizin only. Honestly, it flies either way, but it has to be more tightly written. Iryna Harpy (talk) 04:21, 23 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
          • Iryna Harpy By no means I was offended, sorry if it sounded like I was. I'm just more or less familiar with the subject, the important roles humour and poetry played in the Russian history, maybe more important than in any other culture. The fact that such people as Mikhail Bakhtin and Dmitry Likhachov devoted fundamental works to humorous culture alone says a lot, you can't dismiss them as obscure writers or opinion pieces. I'm trying to use English-language sources wherever possible, thus I used Britannica to illustrate the thesis about Fonvizin, but there is another source which makes an overview of the whole period. Either way I'm not planning to write a dissertation full of references to academic studies, juest a normal Wikipedia article. I think even at its current state it is clear the topic is covered by WP:RS and the article is better sourced than articles on American or British humour which dominate the planet. AveTory (talk) 12:18, 23 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]
            • I wish you all the best with it, AveTory. Although I find these kinds of articles a little weak, much of Wikipedia runs on far less than a premise, but it is informative, and the Russian humour article is at least - as you say - backed up by sources. Iryna Harpy (talk) 23:23, 23 December 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]