With our F2 conference on “Play” coming up in January a general update on Russian humour — outside of its new technology context — could be useful. Two recent books for this (and other) purpose(s): the edited volume: Olga Mesropova & Seth Graham, eds. Uncensored?: Reinventing Humor and Satire in Post-Soviet Russia, Slavica 2008 and Seth Graham’s monograph on the Russian anekdot: Resonant Dissonance: The Russian Joke in Cultural Context, (Studies in Russian Literature and Theory), NUP 2009.

The edited volume offers contributions on Russian humor and satire in post-Soviet literature, jokes, film and TV, music and stand-up comedy. With a constant view to the role of humour, satire, jokes and irony in the Soviet society, the analysis of post-Soviet humor and satire, in the words of the editors “contributes to the ongoing scholarly discussion both of how Russians have negotiated the effects of the post-Soviet transition and how today’s popular culture playfully “re-appropriates” Soviet history. (8)”

Graham’s book explores the Russian anekdot in its cultural context(s), with chapters on the genealogy of the word and the genre, its main functions, thematic clusters, the genre’s reflexivity (meta-jokes) and post-Soviet afterlife. The book makes delightful reading, not only because of all the funny examples (unfortunately, only in English translation). Happy reading!