Ukrainian laughter is the best medicine

I laugh a lot in Kyiv. I always tell people that the sense of humour of Ukrainians is the best I have ever experienced. And I have lived in different parts of the world.

The global stereotype is quite the opposite though. People often say things like “Ukraine is full of serious people who look miserable”. And yet, they have never even been to Ukraine, so where does this come from. Yes, when you arrive at the airport in Kyiv and some older, heavy-set looking man, in a leather coat, and an old style looking Soviet hat, comes up to you abruptly and goes “You vont texi ?!” then your first impression will match the stereotype. But start talking to a taxi driver when you leave the airport and the chances are you will be laughing soon.

There is no political correctness in Ukraine and people are straight forward and pretty direct. This often leads to very funny situations. And they laugh with their souls. Ukrainians are smart, and enjoy a good joke. Also, other things which add to the humour are cultural and language differences. I am a funny guy (even if I say so myself) so when you take a quirky, nerdy foreigner and you have him interact with smart, funny people, there is a lot of scope of comedy.

Look at the ongoing nightmare of a war. The most depressing and terrifying thing any of us has ever experienced, and yet, with all this insanity and horror, there are a flow of jokes coming out of Ukraine. The government on Twitter is making official jokes. These guys are funny. I am telling you. Come to Kyiv when the war is over – you will laugh a lot.

The jokes about the tractors and this new postage stamp that celebrates the “Go f__k yourself” story, just keep on coming. Ukraine is a funny country. Quite the opposite of what the stereotype would have you believe.

“Many early Jewish comedians in the US emigrated from Odessa to New York 100 to 140 years ago.

You can make a compelling argument, and many academics and comedians have, that the style of modern Jewish-American humor — from Jerry Seinfeld to Mel Brooks to Larry David — stems from Odessa, with its neurotic and pessimistic flavor. (Is there any better kind?)”