Tag Archives: russia

Russian Joke 1 – Strings

1) “What’s the definition of a Russian string quartet? A Soviet orchestra back from a US tour.”

2) My Russian friend from high school told me this joke when I was at his house a couple weeks ago. He told me he chose this joke because as an international student he feels more critical of Russia than many of his peers and he wanted to express that through humor. 

3) This joke was told to me in a set of four while my Russian friend and I were playing video games at his house. 

4) This joke has satirical elements that highlight Cold War tensions between the US and USSR during the late 20th century. Both the USSR and US used musical artists as a form of propaganda and chose to facilitate performances which they believed to fit their countries ideological agendas. The idea of a “tour” fits this concept perfectly – the dissemination of thought. 

Russian Joke 2 – Tie

1) “Two Russians meet in Moscow at night… one says, ‘Hey look at this tie I bought last week for $200!’ The other man responded, ‘You’re an idiot. You could have bought that tie yesterday for $500’”

2) My Russian friend told me this joke because he explained to me that he is very passionate about Russia’s economy, and that the reference to inflation in this ties into some of the issues that he wants to contribute to solving through Russian politics.

3) This joke was told to me in a set of four while my Russian friend and I were playing video games. 

4) This joke is essentially implying that at a point, inflation in Russia was so severe that $500 became worth less than $200 within the span of a few days. This ties into Russia’s economic conditions. After the days of collectivization and transition through the Cold War era now to the regime of Putin, Russia has struggled with economic identity. The link between communism, desires for small market openings, massive bribes and corruption have created an economic condition where trust between individuals is diminished, and when trust is diminished, so is currency. 

Russian Joke 3 – List

1) “Do you know Putin’s plan for Russia’s new economy? It’s to make people rich and happy. The list of people is attached!” 

2) My Russian friend told me this joke because he said he really wants Putin out of office, although he doesn’t see that happening until he dies. He used this joke as an opportunity to critique Russia’s president. 

3) This joke was told to me in a set of four while my Russian friend and I were playing video games. 

4) This joke seems to be getting at the idea that Putin, and Russian big government as a whole, largely tends to the interests of those within an elite network, as opposed to the Russian people as a whole. Wealth is highly centralized amongst government officials, and the prevalence of bribery allows for blackmarkets to facilitate without crackdown (bribery likely circles back to the Russian government). 

Russian Joke 4 – rabbits and camels

1) “So there are two rabbits on a road during Stalin’s 1937 Purge… the first rabbit asks the second, ‘why are you in such a hurry?’ The second responds, ‘you haven’t heard? There’s a rumor circulating… apparently all camels are to be castrated.’ The first replies, ‘But you’re not a camel.’ So the second explains, ‘After they catch you and castrate you, try proving you’re not a camel.’

2) My Russian friend told me this joke because he wanted to make a point. He believes that socialism or communism have potential under the right leaders and environment, but he believes Stalin’s method was utterly immoral and a failure. He told me that he shared this joke because he believes critique is prior to proper reformation in society. 

3) This joke was told to me in a set of four while my Russian friend and I were playing video games. 

4) This joke is referencing Stalin’s Great Purge in 1937. This event was the culmination of Stalin’s reign in which he had various political and military figures executed or removed from the USSR, as well as Russia’s intelligentsia, and ultimately conducted a witch hunt in which people who displayed any marginal signs of anti-soviet sentiments would be imprisoned or executed without fair due process. The Great Purge is estimated to have led to nearly 700,000 deaths. 

Ukrainian – Reuse Of Food Storage Containers

Informant’s Background:

My informant, AK, is a undergraduate student at the University of Southern California. He is a first-generation immigrant, and the child of Ukrainian and Russian parents.


I am a close friend of AK. I asked him if he had any folklore he could share and this was what he gave me.


AK: “I guess like you can make a story out of this, but essentially, like, my whole life, when I try and get food from my parents or my grandma or my grandpa and like I come over as a guest or something and they want to cook me food or something they like put it-like every Russian… uhm, and Ukrainian like puts this, like does this, so say like I want some food that you made or I’m offering you some food that I made, like (*laughs*) I don’t give it to you in Tupperware. I give it to you, like I give you some Russian soup in some like old yoghurt container that like I bought, that literally had my yoghurt in it and like now I’m using it as a container to put other food in it and store other food in it. Obviously like its washed, uhm, before like any other different new food is put in it, but it’ll be like a yoghurt container but what will actually be inside will actually be some like, uhm, leek soup or something. And that’s like pretty typical like classic Russian stuff that you’ll get. More so with older generations, I don’t think like anyone who’s Russian or Ukrainian now would do that.”

Informant’s Thoughts:

AK: “I think the reason why is that there was just a time, in Russia, where you had to be really resourceful, uhm, and that’s because of World War 2, and like, I don’t know, just when there was winter and stuff and you kind of have to bunker down and just use what you have, and like no one was really rich in Russia uhm back then, there was a lot less rich people, and a lot more poor people that were like struggling and stuff. So a lot of people were resourceful, and I think that just like became embedded into like their-their DNA and their way of life. And so it just bleeds through in this small little funny way.”


I think AK explained this quite well. This example demonstrates how people adapt their way of lives to the times that they grew up in, and to the situations that surround them. In this case, this resourcefulness is likely no longer necessary in the case of AK’s relatives, due to better living conditions, and the lack of a harsh winter to diminish resources, yet the traditional way of life the person grew up with is still performed, even if it will not carry on to AK’s way of life.