Chuckchi Jokes
November 10, 2012 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Anyone familiar with the contemporary Russian humorous folklore (jokelore, or in Russian anekdoty) knows that one of the most popular series of such jokes revolves around the Chukchis, the native people of Chukotka, the most remote northeast corner of Russia. These jokes, especially popular in 1990s and 2000s, fit the international genre of ethnic stupidity jokes . . .
posted by jason's_planet (17 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, I heard a lot of these jokes from my grandparents growing up -- they're roughly a combination of redneck and Polish jokes from the American tradition of humor -- and it is great to see some context. The very expansive Russian jokes Wikipedia entry has a bunch more.
posted by griphus at 10:02 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

i found this interesting, partially because i've long wanted to name a dog 'Chukotka Autonomous Oblast'.
posted by gorestainedrunes at 10:20 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

You can pretty much insert any ethnicity that Romanians poo-poo on (Hungarians, Gagauzi, Turks, Ukrainians, etc) for a similar Romanian effect. The Wikipedia article on Romanian humor is comparatively smaller.
posted by vkxmai at 10:24 AM on November 10, 2012

Sardarji Jokes
posted by jcruelty at 10:26 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Simka: "You know those Mountain People jokes you have been telling?"

Latka: "Yeah!"

Simka: *grabs Latka's and which she uses to slap his face repeatedly* "Well I am a Mountain Person! And this is for my mother! And this is for my father! And this is for my grandfather!"

Latka: "I hope you have a small family..."
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:36 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

this was a very interesting article. Thanks for posting it!
posted by rebent at 10:42 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm reminded of Frederick Pohl's short story The Day After the Day the Martians Came. But don't read the Wikipedia article about it unless you're doing research for a Stupid Wikipedian joke. Which gives me an idea: on the internet, no-one knows you're a Chukchi. Perhaps the next generation of jokes will be based on identifications that flow more directly from actual, chosen behavior rather than bigoted assumptions based on origin. And speaking of which, did you hear the one about the YouTube commenter who... ?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:58 AM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm not a fan of Russian Chukchi jokes. They are intensely racist. A lot of them also pair Chukchis with black people, which may be a bit more difficult for Americans to laugh at.

Tellingly, while the basic Russian word for "black person" is essentially "Negro" (негр), Russians have also eagerly adopted "nigger." And Googling for that, I learn the Russian word толераст, "PC fag."
posted by Nomyte at 11:50 AM on November 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Not too different from the 'Native' jokes in Canada. Xenophobia and racism are kind of everywhere.
posted by tatiana131 at 12:24 PM on November 10, 2012

I'm not a fan of Russian Chukchi jokes.

Neither is the author of the article. Did you read it?
posted by jason's_planet at 12:42 PM on November 10, 2012

There's some further background in Anna Reid's The Shaman's Coat: A Native History of Siberia (a fairly superficial journalist's account of a number of native populations, but quite good for what it is):
Chukotka's indigenous people, the Chukchi, were once equally wild and fierce. A map of 1765 labelled their France-sized peninsula 'Chooktchi natio ferocissima et bellicosa, Russorum inimica, qui capti se invicem interficiunt' — 'a savage and warlike tribe, enemies of the Russians, who often kill themselves when captured.' An eighteenth-century Russian encyclopaedia listed them as 'the most savage, the most barbarous, the most intractable, the least civilized, the most rugged and cruel people of all Siberia . . . naturally as wicked and as dangerous as the Tungusians [Evenk] are mild and gentle'. Something of this reputation lingers on in today's Chukchi jokes, still as standard among Russians as Irish jokes used to be among the English. Most turn on the Chukchi's supposed stupidity. [...] But others accord them a certain amused respect. In one, the Chukchi declare war on China. Puzzled, Beijing sends a delegation to find out who they are. The envoys come upon two men sitting in a skin tent eating a seal.

'Are you Chukchi?'

'We are.'

'And you want to fight us?'

'That's right.'

'You know that there are a billion Chinese?'

'Really! Wherever shall we bury you all?'
posted by languagehat at 12:49 PM on November 10, 2012 [19 favorites]

The Soviet Army test fires an SS-20 missile and lose track of it as it goes into the vast northern tundra.

SS-20 was a NATO reporting name so it looks a little weird in this joke, but I'll have faith that it was just converted for a Western audience.
posted by crapmatic at 1:05 PM on November 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Vkxmai wrote: You can pretty much insert any ethnicity that Romanians poo-poo on (Hungarians, Gagauzi, Turks, Ukrainians, etc) ...

Romanians make fun of Hungarians? I don't believe such a thing is possible.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:05 PM on November 10, 2012

Here's a good self-deprecating chukchi joke (assuming it was thought up by a Russian) I remember:

A chukcha is sitting on an ocean shore, fishing. Suddenly an American sub surfaces, the captain climbs up and speaks: Hey there, did you perchance see a Soviet sub? Which direction did it go? Chukcha replies: They went North-West. Captain: Thank you, good man. [exeunt]

After some time passes, a Soviet sub surfaces. A captain appears and asks where the American sub go. Chukcha: Oh, they went North-East. The captain hesitates for a second and then goes: You know, why you have to be such a wise guy? Can you just point in that direction?
posted by rainy at 4:28 PM on November 10, 2012

I don't get it.
posted by vogon_poet at 12:10 PM on November 11, 2012

Sorry, I guess it doesn't translate from Russian as well as I hoped. But I swear it killed in Voronezh! A more literal translation of the last part is: Don't be wise, show with your hand.

The fact that the direction is wrong anyway is incidental and not always part of the joke.
posted by rainy at 3:01 PM on November 11, 2012

While plenty of these are standard ethnic jokes (dare I say, standard racist jokes), at least one of the jokes in the article seems to have been misunderstood by the author or at least reinterpreted in a way that doesn't seem natural, at least to my eyes:
A Chukchi returned home from the Communist Party Congress:

“I attended the Congress. They accepted the new program. They said: ‘Everything for man, everything for the benefit of Man!’ And this Chukchi saw this Man with his own eyes. He was right there, in the Presidium.”
This isn't making fun of Chukchi supernatural beliefs or identifying the Communist leaders with having supernatural powers, it's using the Chukcha as straight man who through their bumbling misunderstanding of Russian reveal things as they are: that the changes the Communist party is undertaking are to the benefit of the elite. Thus this sounds like a standard anti-govt joke using Chukchi incidentally rather than being the point of the joke.
posted by anateus at 10:00 PM on November 11, 2012

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