This is the second and final part of an unusual post topic, humor and bureaucracy. See part I if you missed it.
The author has a comment in the end, which is interesting. ‘The problem with you is that you refuse to take anything seriously – not Communism, not me… Not even yourself.’ ‘That’s true,’ I said ‘but I take not taking anything seriously very seriously.’ [Page 307]
´The Communist economy was very bad at producing everything – except jokes. They were very good at jokes.´ [Page 222]
Many Communist jokes were adapted into ones referring to the shortcomings of Western economies. ´Why does an Austin Allegro have a heated rear window? So you can keep your hands warm when you push it’. [Page 300]
How does a clever Russian Jew talk to a stupid Russian Jew?
by telephone from new York. [Page 211]
What is the definition of a Russian string quartet?
A Soviet orchestra back from a US tour. [Page 212]
Do you know why Romania will survive the end of the world?
Because it is fifty years behind everyone else! [Page 263]
My favorite one follows…
Leonid Brezhnev wanted to commission a portrait to be entitled ´Lenin in Poland’. Russian painters, being schooled strictly in the Realist school, were unable to paint an event that had never actually occurred,
´Comrade Brezhnev, we would like to do it, but we cannot. It goes against our training,´ replied each of the man artists approached by Brezhnev. Finally, in desperation, Brezhnev was forced to ask the old Jewish painter Levy.
´of course, I prefer to portray actual events, but I’ll do the painting for you, Comrade. It would be my great honour.´ Levy commenced work on the painting.
Finally the day of the unveiling arrived. Everyone gasped as the cloth was removed to reveal the picture of a man in bed with a woman who looked like Lenin’s wife.
Brezhnev asked, horrified, ´Who is that man?
´That’s Trotsky said the artist.
´And who,´ Brezhnev enquired, is that woman?´
´That is Lenin’s wife, Comrade Brezhnev.´
´But where is Lenin?´
´He’s in Poland,´ Levy explained.
Now you may want to explore your favorite ones…