Dagestan, a collection of 14 major and several dozen minor ethnic groups that formed in tide pools and cul-de-sacs off one of humankind’s great migration streams.
All this has proven exceptionally fertile ground for ethnic humor. Dagestanis can tell ethnic jokes for hours, returning to beloved themes like the muscle-bound denseness of the Avars, the naked commercialism of the Dargins, the bookish pusillanimity of the Lezgins, the slyness of Lakhs and so on. And that’s not counting jokes about especially dumb villages.
One example: An Avar is carrying a wounded Dargin off the battlefield. The Dargin entreats his friend to leave him behind, lest they both be killed, and asks the one favor of shooting him so he does not suffer. The Avar, finally convinced, pulls out his firearm but finds he has no ammunition. The Dargin roots in his pockets and pulls out a bullet. “I’ll sell it to you,” he says.
Or this one: An Avar is driving through Makhachkala with a Lakh in the passenger seat. Spotting a red light, he pumps the accelerator and speeds through it. “You just ran a red light!” the Lakh says. “Avars don’t stop for red lights,” the Avar explains, and speeds through another. In a few minutes, they come to a green light, and the Avar stops. “Why did you stop?” the Lakh asks. “You can’t be too careful,” his friend says, “an Avar might be coming the other way.”
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