Russian humour

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. Like with any other nation, its vast scope ranges from lewd jokes and silly wordplay to political satire.


Political satire

For most of Russian history, humour remained an expression of the human spirit. Under the ascetic dogmatism of the clergy in medieval times, human laughter seemed pagan and suspicious, while political satire was considered potentially dangerous under autocratic monarchies, as well as under communist rule. In spite of, or even because of its oppression, Russian humour flourished as a liberating culture and a means to counter and ridicule the elite. During the Brezhnev stagnation period of the Soviet Union in the 1970s and early 1980s for instance, in a relatively peaceful and politically stable environment, sharp political wit addressed social shortcomings. With the end of authoritarian regimes in Russia in the 1990s, the decline of political humour has been lamented as being a symptom of Westernisation. New features of post-communist Russian society, such as semi-criminal businessmen, instead led to the emergence of other stereotypes for satirical jokes.


Main article: Russian joke.

The most popular form of Russian humour consists of jokes (анекдо́ты — anekdoty), which are short stories with a punchline. A typical characteristic of Russian joke culture is that it features a series of categories with fixed and highly familiar settings and characters. Surprising effects are achieved by an endless variety of plots.


Drinking toasts can take the form of anecdotes or not-so-short stories, concluded with "So here's to..." with a witty punchline referring to the initial story.


Main article: Chastushka.

A specific form of humor is chastushkas, songs composed of four-line rhymes, usually of lewd, humoristic, or satiric content.

Other forms of humour

Apart from jokes, Russian humour is expressed in plays on words and short poems including nonsense and black humour verses, similar to those of Edward Lear.


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