chapter  6
17 Pages

More than Humor: Jokes from Russia as a Mirror of Russian Life

ByEUGENE GORNY

Humor is one of the most important elements of culture. Humor refl ects an immediate reaction of people to various life phenomena. Being a form of communication that makes people laugh or evokes feelings of amusement and happiness,1 humor can make even unpleasant or painful situations acceptable or tolerable. Although humor seems to be a pan-human universal, it is also culturally specifi c inasmuch as it is based on language and culture. Humor is, therefore, “a key to understanding societies, as it refl ects collective fears, ideologies, and social power.”2 National humor is one of the most powerful means of maintaining national identity through shared feelings and understandings.