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Guide to Russia > Russian Culture




Its funny.

Russia is a pretty funny place and the people here have a good sense of humor. If we were to try to see the difference between let's say French and Russian humor, the main thing is that Russians are more open while expressing themselves. Russian humor may not be as "sophisticated" as French humor, but it really is quite good, open and intelligent and most importantly, Russians are ready to laugh at themselves. Russians will happily laugh at their own social problems and other uncomfortable things - the government, poor culture and uneducated people (dummies).

It is actually quite a good trait for Russians to be so easy going and have such a good sense of humor. You will experience this everywhere you go except perhaps during rush hour on the public transportation system,when people are tired and sometimes angry. You will also see the other side of the coin if you go to an outside political demonstration. During these events, people aren't really there to have fun you know that. Other than these and a few other situations, you will definitely encounter the humorous side of Russian nature.

There are a lot of cool jokes and short funny stories called "anekdoty" everywhere in Russia. You will hear them whenever you go to a party or just are outside within the company of Russians. As with humor everywhere, there are still a lot of jokes that are a play on the language or certain words. In this case, you will have to know the Russian language quite well to understand, but at the same time a great portion of the jokes can be translated quite well into English or other languages.

There are many jokes about the deep Russian soul, alcoholism and laziness, but all of these are for the most part kind and very funny. If you really want to experience all of this, you just need to accept an invitation to spend the evening within the company of natives having a party usually at home but it also may be outside in a bar or night club. There you will see the Russian national pastime of drinking vodka and letting loose the soul (although now lots of people actually drink beer). Also you will learn that it is very possible to drink until the "devils come" and then to drink together with them, in other words, to party the whole night through. (Incidentally, this drinking thing is insidious If you are invited to go hunting with Russians, you'll probably end up going to the country for 3 days to have a good time with friends, drink vodka, eat good food and actually do about 3 hours of real hunting (if that). If you are invited to go fishing - it's almost the same as with hunting, but you might end up dropping the bottle of vodka in the lake and spend the rest of the time trying to find it. If in Russia you happen to get sick, you will be offered the national remedy: vodka if your soul doesn't feel so good and vodka with pepper if you are truly, physically ill.)

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Some great examples of Russian humor come from late Soviet era films such as "Ivan Vasilievich Changes His Profession" a comical fantasy about modern society, the theater and the times of Ivan the Terrible. While watching this masterpiece you will undoubtedly learn much about good Russian traditions and of course, food and drinks. The film is full of great jokes, which are beloved by the population to this day you'll still hear references to this and other movies even more than 30 years after their original releases. Another great movie is a lyrical love story that takes place on New Year's Eve. Its called "The Irony of Fate" or "S lyokim parom! (a congratulatory phrase offered after someone has taken a bath, shower or banya)!". A doctor from Moscow is having a party in a Russian banya with his friends on December 31st. The guys are celebrating the doctor's engagement. After a while, the young friends become drunk and the doctor/hero accidentally flies to St. Petersburg (Leningrad at that time) instead of going to his house in Moscow to spend New Years with his fiance. In Leningrad he meets a new lady by accidentally stumbling into her apartment, thinking that it is his own apartment. She happens to live on the same street, same building with the same apartment number in St. Petersburg as his own home in Moscow believe me, after a few drinks of vodka at a banya, this is possible - plus, all the new regions in Russia look the same. It is New Years Eve and miracles are happening so these two fall in love and stay together for the rest of their lives. Ok, you really have to see it, but this movie is a great one. It is shown on TV every year on the 31st of December and the whole country watches it for the nine hundredth time. The movie really demonstrates a particularly interesting side of Russian life and is full of Russian humor. Another great movie to learn about this side of Russian life is "The Peculiarities of the Russian National Pastime of Hunting" and "The Peculiarities of the Russian National Pastime of Fishing". These are 2 modern comedies that are a lot of fun. And to be honest, there are so many great, Russian movies full of humor and other funny stuff that it is impossible to describe them all.

Anyway, we hope that this small introduction to Russian humor has gotten your attention and hope that you will explore and learn more on your own.

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