I read a thread a month ago on Slashdot about the In Soviet Russia meme. I thought it was cool that a Yakov Smirnoff joke would still be funny this long after his stand-up career peaked. I then wondered what was going on? Was there some sort of Smirnoff revival in progress? Because I can't recall exactly where I heard or read it, but it seems I encountered the meme somewhere else within the past week. Was it on Futurama? Or on The Daily Show? Or maybe I read something about it in The Onion? Wherever it was, it emphasized to me just how popular this has become.

Then what really freaked me out about the ubiquity of the faux Smirnoff joke theme happened today. And I figured I ought to daylog it for future personal reference. With little effort, I shamelessly incorporated it into normal conversation with one of my best friends over dinner tonight, and he instantly got the reference and laughed hysterically. I acted cool about it on the outside, but on the inside it was a true WTF kind of moment.

Here's the setup... Last week, I finally got a chance to introduce my friend (who is rarely in town, since he lives an hour and a half North of me) to my girlfriend. My girlfriend was born and raised in Hunan Province, in China. He drove back into town for a few days, and I had a chance to hang out with him this evening. We obviously had to discuss his impressions of my girlfriend. And after a while, we ended up discussing certain things about my relationship with her. Such as the way our cultural differences make it difficult sometimes to exchange jokes. It took me a while to explain the humor of The Onion's joke about Kevin Bacon being linked to Al-Qaeda, for example. And I'm still not clear about a comic strip she showed me this afternoon in her Chinese newspaper. Anyhow, so my friend told me of a former co-worker of his who was Russian; and how the guy would translate jokes e-mailed to him from Russia in an effort to explain what Russians found humorous.

To wisely leverage this concept and enhance my relationship with my girlfriend, he suggested I continue asking her about how they tell jokes in China.

That made too much sense, and wasn't silly enough for me. So of course I had to correct this sudden introduction of meaning into our conversation by immediately blurting out, "Aha! But in Communist China, the joke tells you!"

I'm quite disturbed that my friend laughed so hard about that. Why are Yakov Smirnoff references so effective all of a sudden? It seems cool, but suspicious.