The title of this post may be misleading, since I’m not sure I can answer the question myself. I think the problem is either…my culture or my personality. :)
Russian person: [insert anecdote here]
Me: [silence or fake laughter]
Russian person: You didn’t understand?
Me: I’m not sure.
Russian person: [translates joke into English]
Me: I know, I got it. I just…don’t think it’s funny?
Then I decided that none of you readers will know what I’m talking about unless I provide an example. After reading through several pages of jokes, I couldn’t find one that was funny. And then I remembered that their non-funniness to me was the point of my research in the first place.
So in the end I chose a few doctor jokes, which I found to be the least offensive to my American ears. Maybe it’s because I’m not a doctor…
From Wikipedia: “Medical jokes are wide-spread. Usually, they consist of a short dialogue of doctor or nurse and patient.
-'Doc, why is it that when I speak to God it's a prayer, and when God speaks to me it's schizophrenia?'
-'Doc, everybody ignores me!'/ 'Next patient, please...'
-'Doc, why you are measuring me!'/ 'I'm not a doctor, I'm a carpenter.'
-'Doc, where're we going?' / 'To the morgue.'/ 'But I haven't died yet!'/'Neither have we arrived.'
-'Nurse, where're we going?' / 'To the morgue.'/ 'But I haven't died yet!'/ 'Er, the doc said 'to morgue', so to morgue!'
The phrase 'The doc said 'to the morgue', so to the morgue!' became a well-known Russian cliché.”
So why am I bothering to write about something I don’t understand? Because the anecdotes are everywhere! Everyone is reading them in the metro, using them in sermons, interjecting them into conversation. And I can’t stand it. So what’s my problem? What am I missing?
Maybe I just haven’t been in Russia long enough. When I start to laugh at the jokes, I will know that it’s been long enough. I’ll let you know…