Humour in Russia
....Well Russian habit of having dismal face, is just a manner. We are not gloomy inside at all, apparently we have a great sense of humour!
What is a Russian joke? The form of Russian humour, are short fictional stories or dialogues with a punch line. We call it an anecdote. However sometimes anecdotes are not just jokes because their first purpose is not only to arouse laughter, but to reveal a truth more general than the brief tale itself. Russian joke culture includes a series of categories with fixed and vastly familiar characters and settings. Russian jokes are on topics found everywhere in the world, like sex, politics or mothers-in-law.
Humour is being used as an "antidepressant" by Russian people since far from now. The whole dramatic history of Russia can be described if based on its humour.
It is a pity that the real Russian jokes, cool ones are unlikely to be translated. And examples that are given in the Internet are not funny at all. Believe me!
But I think I should give you at least one anecdote otherwise you will not excuse me for that. So the joke I am going to give you is about seven paradoxes of the socialist state:
Nobody works, but the plan is always fulfilled. The plan is fulfilled, but the shelves in the stores are empty. The shelves are empty, but nobody starves; nobody starves, but everybody is unhappy; everybody is unhappy, but nobody complains; nobody complains, but the jails are full! This joke gives an insight into what Russians really felt during Soviet times...
And don't forget about chastooshka. It is a type of traditional Russian folk poem, with an abcb abab, or aabb rhyme scheme. As a rule chastooshka has humorous, satirical, or ironic content. They are usually put to music with balalaika or accordion accompaniment.
It is worth mentioning about Russian profanity ("mat"). It is the term for strong obscene words in Russian and other Slavic communities. It can enhance the humorous effect of a joke by its emotional impact but such an effect is difficult to render into other languages. Despite the public ban, "mat" is used by Russians of all ages and in all social groups, with particular fervour in male-dominated military and the structurally similar social strata. I don't like that kind of expression, but it exists, if it is not your cup of tea just avoid it in your speech.
Although a huge number of jokes related to date-to-day things, Russians are quite proud in daring social content of their humour and also diverse range of knowledge which their jokes contain.
So, as a bottom line I can say that Russian humour is subtle yet cuts like a blade!