Joke told to avoid answering questions, stories about (and against) opponents and just humor without any subtexts. While Ukraine is recovering after a tough but extremely important weekend (the Presidential Election took place on Sunday, March 31), Opinion offers to look at Ukrainian politicians from another angle.
Let’s start from a famous anecdote about the first President of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk. By the way, he tells this joke by himself. When Mr. Kravchuk got out of the car, his bodyguards opened an umbrella to protect Mr. President from rain, but he said, “No need, I’ll go between raindrops.” It became a classic joke and a visiting card of the ex-president. So, even Kravchuk himself cites it. However, he seems to interpret it much more positively.
Here is an attempt to laugh a question off by the runaway president Victor Yanukovych. Savik Shuster, a host of a political TV show, asked Yanukovych, who was a presidential candidate at that time, how he would implement his program if Yulia Tymoshenko became a Prime Minister. Yanukovych quickly answered that it would never happen and then he tried to tell a joke. However, nobody laughed. The joke is about a Ukrainian man flying in a plane and eating a sandwich with salo and garlic. A guy came up to the man asking if it was tasty. The man offered the guy to taste it but then said, “I understand you would eat the whole sandwich but I won’t give it to you.”
Yulia Tymoshenko is also fond of joking. However, it is a mistake to think her jokes are just a way to cozy up to the electorate. Her jokes have their addressees, and the ex-Prime Minister doesn’t hide it. For example, a video which went viral about “a squirrel and a rabbit who couldn’t give birth to children because they both were… boys.” It was connected with the Socialist Party of Ukraine, Communist Party of Ukraine and Yanukovych’s The Party of Region’s attempt to create a coalition. An interesting fact is that “socialists” tried to create a coalition with Tymoshenko’s party as well. However, Tymoshenko didn’t tell any jokes about this attempt.
However, Tymoshenko has been into tougher jokes lately. For example, a story about Prime Minister Groysman and Poroshenko who decided to increase judges’ salary several times as many as teachers’. Giving an interview to a pro-Russian NewsOne channel she said that they wouldn’t go to school anymore but “they will have to go to the court”. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s a joke or just populism.
However, Ukrainian politicians’ jokes aren’t always connected with their opponents. Sometimes a joke helps to explain some idea to the audience. For example, Petro Poroshenko, while giving a speech, compared the process of Ukraine’s euro integration with a story about the Cubans who don’t like working. They turned a slogan “Let’s work, say no to samba” into a beat for a dance. By this joke, the President tried to explain that Ukraine needs not dancing but “cooperation and winning”. It is not surprising that Russian media published this video titled “Poroshenko danced for Ukrainians”.
However, it is rather a rhetorical question whether such tricks can motivate people. Anyway, this is how an anecdote of Andriy Parubiy, the Head of Verkhovna Rada, looked like. He tried to scold councilors for missing sessions by telling a joke about a boss who allowed his employees to work only on Wednesday. It was rather sad than funny. And it seems, councilors didn’t begin attending more sessions after that.
Yuri Lutsenko, a Prosecutor General of Ukraine since 2016, in April 2013 was convicted. During the break in the court, he told a joke about a boy who wrote a composition titled What I did Yesterday. He wrote, “I woke up, wiped the dick, I had breakfast, then wiped the dick, etc.” His teacher asked him why his rich parent couldn’t buy him any medicine if he had health problems. He answered that it was the word “dick” written on their door because his father was a prosecutor.
Arsen Avakov, the Minister of Interior Affairs, also has specific humor. He told a joke about a fox asking a camel why he has a crooked tail – the camel asked what part of his body is straight.
Presidential candidates also told jokes during their election campaigns. For example, Anatoliy Hrytsenko came to one TV channel and told a joke. He had hardly finished it as he started to blame Poroshenko. In other words, stories are often used by politicians as a tool of catching attention and highlighting some topic they need to focus on.
Jokes can also make politicians find themselves in the center of a scandal. As it happened to Oleh Lyashko, the leader of the Radical Party of Ukraine, two years ago. While telling a joke in Verkhovna Rada, Lyashko used swear words. Serhiy Leshchenko asked the Procedural Committee to suspend him from duty for five sessions without payment. We don’t publish this video here for obvious reasons but any can google it.
It is not the first time Liashko failed to keep his mouth shut. However, this time it wasn’t about swearing. He made jokes at deputy Prime Minister’s surname – Klymush-Tsyntsadze. Liashko called her Tsytskadze (tsytsky means tits in Ukrainians).
Nevertheless, a story is a good way to tell people your biography so at least somebody could remember it. For example, Vadym Rabinovich, a member of Opposition Bloc, explained why he chose politics as his profession. “I wanted to become a doctor. But I am too funny to be a proctologist, and I fall in love too often to be a gynecologist. So that’s why I became a politician.”
It may be weird but councilors sometimes… ask others to tell them an anecdote. For example, Anton Herashchenko asked his opponent to tell him any joke about new police in Ukraine meaning that compared to old traffic cops a new reformed law enforcement system is not an object for jokes anymore. However, the joke wasn’t funny.
And the last thing. Politicians sometimes can joke without any goals to motivate people or blame opponents. This is the video was shot in May 2018. Volodymyr Groysman brought children to the government session and joked that some of them looked like current and former officials.
By Dmytro Zhuravel