Friday, April 24, 2015

“A Strangely Funny Russian Genius”...

“A Strangely Funny Russian Genius”...  Essay by Ian Frazier in New York Books.  A passage that caught my eye:
Russia is the funniest country in the world. Some countries, like America and England, are funny mostly on purpose, while others, like Germany and France, can be funny only unintentionally. (But that counts! Being funny is tricky, so any way you do it counts.) Russia, however, is funny both intentionally (Gogol, Zoshchenko, Bulgakov) and unintentionally (Vladimir Putin singing, as he did at a televised event a few years ago, “I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill”). Given the disaster Russian history has been more or less continuously for the last five centuries, its humor is of the darkest, most extreme kind. Russian humor is to ordinary humor what backwoods fundamentalist poisonous snake handling is to a petting zoo. Russian humor is slapstick, only you actually die.
Thanks to my work in Estonia and Russia, I've gotten to know a few hundred Russians (including ethnic Russians who happen to live in Estonia).   The paragraph above jibes with my own experiences with Russian humor.  I've been struck by the everyday fatalism of the ordinary Russian, and also the prevalence of dark humor.  Reagan retold some good examples, at right.

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