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.