Stalin's Favorite Joke

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Via Arts & Letters Daily, an article in the UK Prospect about the role(s) of jokes in Communist countries:

Stalin himself cracked [jokes], including this one about a visit from a Georgian delegation: They come, they talk to Stalin, and then they go, heading off down the Kremlin's corridors. Stalin starts looking for his pipe. He can't find it. He calls in Beria, the dreaded head of his secret police. "Go after the delegation, and find out which one took my pipe," he says. Beria scuttles off down the corridor. Five minutes later Stalin finds his pipe under a pile of papers. He calls Beria–"Look, I've found my pipe." "It's too late," Beria says, "half the delegation admitted they took your pipe, and the other half died during questioning."

"Jokes," writes Ben Lewis in "Hammer & Tickle," "may not have carried the weight of the great forces which ended communism, but they were more than mere figures of speech. Jokes kept alive in the minds of the citizens of the Soviet bloc the idea of an alternative reality, and they made light of four decades of occupation of eastern and central Europe."

Whole thing here.

Reason's Charles Paul Freund unleashed a dark chuckle over Martin Amis' Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million here (don't miss the Johnny Weismuller anecdote at the very close) and Glenn Garvin detailed the greatest hits of the East German secret police here.

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  1. Stalin himself cracked [jokes], including this one…

    I have to wonder: Exactly who could Stalin tell this joke to? Or is this more a matter of, “If you know what’s good for you, Comrade, you’ll laugh.”?

    I mean, “Oh, look, I accidentally got a bunch of people killed. Wokka, wokka, wokka!”

  2. Just to be clear, I think the joke’s funny. I just have a hard time seeing Stalin telling this to his citizens.

  3. Maybe he told it to visiting delegations so they wouldn’t steal his pipe.

  4. Why would he be bent out of shape about one pipe? Wouldn’t Stalin have a nice revolving pipe rack with about 25 pipes behind his desk? I mean, it’s Stalin, for God’s sake…most likely he had hundreds.

  5. There was a little book out a few years ago called something like “Jokes from the Eastern Bloc.” Some of them were funny, others I found mystifying.

    One I remember: How does a smart Russian jew call a stupid Russian jew? From New York, by telephone.

  6. My favorite Russian joke was about the guy who stood in line all morning for toilet paper, only to find that the store ran out. Then he spent all afternoon in line for soap, only to find that the supply had run out. Getting frustrated, he muttered out loud: “Communism sucks.”

    A passer-by heard him and said “Careful comrade, I am a secret policeman. You know what happens to people who make such statements.” To drive home the point, the policeman mimed a gun with his hand, pretending to pull the trigger.

    “Dear God,” said the frustrated Russian, “Don’t tell me you’ve run out of bullets too!”

  7. Yep, that Stalin was definitely one funny fella! Wonder how many Russians died laughing?

  8. “Yep, that Stalin was definitely one funny fella! Wonder how many Russians died laughing?”

    Yeah, he used to just slay me.

  9. One day a guy goes into the local communist shop.

    “Is there milk today?”

    “Yes, there is milk.”

    “Thank god!”

    “No, comrade, thank the party.”

    “So, is there meat today?”

    “Yes, there is meat.”

    “Thank god!!”

    “No, comrade, thank the party!”

    “Now, is there beer today?”

    “No, there is no beer.”

    “Ah, for that, I thank the party.”

  10. So, did the first person to stop laughing at a Stalin joke get dragged from the chambers?

  11. Wait a minute: we effectively have a one-party system in the US! Where’s our jokes?…

    Q: What’s the difference between a Democrat and a Republican?
    A: Demccrats rob you, and Republicans beat you. So remember to choose wisely at the polls.

    I’m sure my fellow libertarian comrades can do better. C’mon guys, pitch-in!

  12. Waiting for Yakov Smirnoff punchline…

  13. In Soviet Russia, joke laugh at you!

    – Josh

  14. An East German joke:

    Leonid Brezhnev went out onto his balcony one morning. The sun rose in the east, and surprised him by saying “Good morning, comrade Brezhnev!”

    “Good morning, comrade Sun!” he answered cheerfully, thinking to himself “what a friendly woman.” (in German the sun (die Sonne) is of the female gender)

    In the afternoon he went back out onto the balcony. The sun high in the sky over him, and again greeted him kindly “Good afternoon, comrade Brezhnev!”

    “Good day, comrade Sun!” he again answered, pleased with her friendliness.

    Later that evening, Brezhnev went back out onto his balcony. He saw the sun setting gloriously in the west, and called out to her “Good evening, comrade Sun!”

    “Oh man, you can kiss my ass. I’m in the West now!” she answered.

  15. I remember this old joke:

    A delegation of American businessmen visited the Soviet Union to tour a factory. It shattered all their preconceptions of Soviet industry. The factory was modern, clean and bustling. Every machine ran perfectly and at full capacity. Every worker was at his task, being crisp, efficient and busy.

    “I must admit, this is very impressive,” said one of the American businessment.

    “We are very proud of this factory,” said their guide. “Output is incredibly high. It is the most productive factory in entire Soviet Union!”

    “But what does it make, exactly?” inquired the American.

    “It makes signs that say ‘This Elevator Out of Order.’ “

  16. I actually remember a Yakov Smirnoff joke that I thought was pretty funny. It went something like this:
    —————————–

    In Soviet Union I was in Soviet Marines for a while. First they draft me, then they kick me out, because I got in trouble.

    In Soviet Marines they have a little ritual. They line you up and ask you, “Who is your mother?” And you are supposed to answer, “My mother is Soviet Union!”

    Then they ask you, “Who is your father?” And you are supposed to answer, “My father is Soviet Marine Corps!”

    Then they ask you, “And what do you want to be?” and you are supposed to yell, “A Marine!”

    Well, one morning, they line us up, and they ask us, “Who is your mother?”

    And I say, “”My mother is Soviet Union!”

    Then, “Who is your father?”

    And I say, “My father is Soviet Marine Corps!”

    “And what do you want to be?”

    And I say, “An orphan.”

  17. This is Armenian Radio; our listeners asked us: “Why policemen always walk the streets in teams of three?”

    We’re answering: “The partners in the police team are always chosen in such a way that one of them knows how to read, the other how to write, and the third one, naturally, has to keep watch over those two intellectuals.”

  18. “Wait a minute: we effectively have a one-party system in the US! Where’s our jokes?…”

    Uh…In Congress, the White House, and the Federal courts? (Though as jokes go they are not very funny, are they?)

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