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Do the kinds of political joke that get circulated in a polity depend on the structure - page 23 / 46





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Douglas Ayling


USSR ‘78

z In a quiet corner of Moscow, a man goes into the public toilet and sees a cleaning woman. Her face looks familiar to him. “Hold it, hold it, I remember you,” says the man. “Three months ago you were working in the bathroom on Red Square. How come you find yourself in this place?” “Well, sonny, don’t ask!” sighed the old woman. “Intrigues, I’m surrounded by intrigues!”42

z Brezhnev is talking to Kosygin: “The devil only knows what’s going on. Everyone’s running away! If you were to declare free emigration, perhaps only the two of us would remain here.” Kosygin, avoiding Brezhnev’s eyes, muttered: “Leonid, please – speak only for yourself!”43

z At a conference in Moscow, Brezhnev called Nixon aside and said: “Listen, Dick, could you help us with our footwear problem?” “With pleasure,” replied Nixon. “We can sign a contract immediately.” “Well, thanks a lot! And what about wheat?” “We can sign an agreement right away,” answered Nixon. “Dick, I could kiss you! What about the technological aspect? Can you give us a hand?” “We have everything in order.” “Thank you, my friend,” Brezhnev rejoiced. “But you know, Dick, these are all sort of partial agreements. It would be fine for us if we could somehow unify everything into one large pact.” “Agreed,” said Nixon. “Let’s sign a general contract: The United States will help build Communism in your country.”44


Question to Radio Armenia: “What will it be like in the Soviet Union in the year 1984?” Answer: “That we don’t know, but we do know that all will be quiet on the Chinese-Finnish front”45

42 Forbidden Laughter: Soviet Underground Jokes, compiled and ed. Emil Draitser, trans. Jon Pariser (Los Angeles, The Almanac Publishing House, 1978), p.45 ib., p.79 ib., p.71 43 44

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