Essay about Humor as a Form of Cultural Expression

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Humor as a Form of Cultural Expression

How can one look at a culture and understand its origins, its values, its accomplishments and failures? Through art, poetry, or other literary, or scientific advances? Maybe even in its political standpoints? All of these methods are acceptable. There is one I did not mention in the above list however. It can be considered trivial by some, but I think it is also important. Perhaps we can understand a culture by its humor.

Even on the surface the jokes of a country generally reflect its habitat, attitude, and its people. In the US for instance, most jokes you hear on late-night television would probably be political ones, bashing this political figure or the next. Why is this so? Perhaps
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Everything had a joke attached to it. All present conditions and future beliefs were expressed in those jokes. For example, the strive toward communism became a major topic. (There was never any communism in the USSR per-se, there was only socialism which was considered a mid-point between capitalism and communism. The goal of perfect communism was always the promised future.) Some jokes described the promises that were made by the government from the beginning of the state to its very end. For example : “Communism is on the horizon comrades! The definition of horizon : ‘an imaginary line that can never be reached’ .” Another joke was expresses the present as well as the future : “The Communist Man of the future will have very small arms, since all work will be done for him by machines. He will have very small legs, since free and efficient transportation will be provided everywhere. He will have a very small mouth, because he will not have to chew since all food will be provided in the form of small nutritious pills. He will have a very large head, because he will be think a lot ... thinking where to get those pills.” This fine specimen of a joke may not find you rolling on the floor from laughter, but it does tell you about the concerns people faced in the USSR. There was always a shortage of one food product or another in the stores. Most of the things one learned in school and college were about
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