I’ve shared with you my story about how humor became a way of opposing the communism in Romania. My initial thought was that it will be a decent-size blog post, but words kept coming. Therefore, I decided continue writing and ended up with a second article, only this time I’ve translated you twenty one communist jokes. They reflect the reality of the Romanian people during the communist regime. In some cases, I tried to give you the context of that time, a very brief one.
The forbidden communist jokes
There was no freedom of speech! To tell communist jokes, to speak about injustice, the party, Ceausescu and his wife, liberalism or any other sensitive topic could have sent you to prison, so you had to be sure with whom you shared your thoughts.
Have you noticed that at every petrol station there is now a doctor and a policeman on duty? The doctor gives the first aid to those who faint when they see the price, and the policeman interrogates the ones who fill up about where they got the money from.
A patient is hospitalized at the Insane Asylum. ‘Why are you here?’, another patient asks. ‘I wanted to cross the Romanian boarder’, says the first. ‘But for something like this they do not send you to an asylum!’, replies the other. ‘Yes, but I wanted to escape to Soviet Union!’
A citizen said the chief of the Communist Party is an idiot. For saying this, the citizen was sentenced to spend 25 years and 3 months in prison. Everybody was wondering why 25 years and 3 months. In the end, they old find out the answer: 3 months for insulting a citizen of the Socialist Republic of Romania; 25 years for revealing a state secret.
The comrades working in the Miliția (aka police) and Securitate (aka internal secret service) systems were doing their best to control what Romanians were thinking and they were empowered to do whatever it took to keep Ceausescu, the Communist Party and the Socialist Republic of Romania safe. They’ve spied, threatened, beaten, tortured and killed people.
What is the difference between the wind and Militia? Militia beats you stronger!
What does Securitate mean? The heart of the Party beating, beating, beating …
Along with party activists, these forces helped Ceaușescu build the House of People, the second largest building in the world after Pentagon. Travelers from all parts of the world coming to Romania take their time to visit it. Some are amazed, some shocked, some cannot stand the kitsch. What they do not know is that hundreds, if not thousands of Romanians, died there, forced to work to death to make Ceaușescu’s dream come true … so no wonder…
What will the Palace of People be called when it is finished? A mausoleum
Bulă & the Party
It would a unpardonable sin to talk communist joke and not mention Bulă. Nobody knows exactly who created Bulă. What is sure is that he was born in communist Romania, so I’ll take the liberty of considering him one of the most authentic fictional characters produced by the creative force of the Romanian people. He spoke for us, he made us laugh… in a way he’s a popular hero.
At school the teachers asks Bulă: ‘What does your dad do?’ ‘He’s a member of the Party, comrade’, says the boy. ‘What about your mom, Bulă?’ ‘Ohhhh, she doesn’t work either!
Bulă’s dilemma: Shall I die now of cold or shall I die of starvation in the summer?
Bulă comes back from work earlier and he finds his wife in bed with Nae. ‘Are you nuts? You are fooling around while they sell butter at the food shop?’
The teacher asks Bulă: ‘Tell us one more time Bulă who’s you father?’ ‘Comrade Nicolae Ceausescu , says Bulă. ‘And your mother, Bulă?’ ‘Comrade Nicolae Ceaușescu’… ‘And what would you to be?’, asks the teacher. ‘An orphan!’
How the communist system worked
For those who lived in Romanian during communism time, this system is very different from anything you could read in the some idealistic books. Some of the quotes show extremely well how people really felt about such an oppressing system:
Is communism a science? No, if it were a science, they would have tested it on animals first.
An old gypsy man on his dying bad. Instead of sending after the priest, he asks for the local chief of communist party. ‘I would like to join the Party’, says the dying man. ‘Why would you do this?’, asks the communist. ‘You lived your whole life free as the wind and now you want to join the Party?’. ‘Well, you see, if somebody has to die, I would be much happier if that guy were a communist’, answers back the dying man.
Communist jokes & hunger
Meat was a rarity. In the shops most of the time you could find just some bad salami, chicken wings, pate or beans can. Oranges or bananas were the blessing arriving only in December and January and to get them you had to stay in line along with hundreds or other people.
What’s the difference between the current meat shop and the old one? Before (communism) on the rooftop it was written ‘Gogu’s Meat Shop’. Now, on the rooftop you can see “Meat’ Shop’, but inside you can only find Gogu.
Which came first: the egg or the chicken? Before (communism) we had everything.
Why is that in Romania shops are built five kilometers away apart? Otherwise, the lines would merge.
Communist jokes & the cold
The hot water was not running at the tap all day long as you might think. Sleeping with in your pajama during winter was not enough to keep you warm, you had to put more clothes on you and blankets as the heat system also controlled.
A man is walking down the streets in Bucharest winter. He shouts into a flat: ‘Could you shut your windows; it’s freezing out here.’
Did you hear that since last spring living standards in Romania have doubled? Before we were cold and hungry – now we’re only hungry.
The suffering had no limit and some Romanians lost their hope of a change for the better. It’s a fact painfully reflected by one of the joke I found:
‘Good day, old man! How are you?’, asks the young man. ‘ What else can I do, young man? I’m trying to survive…’ The young guy looks at the old man with a sad look and says: ‘You might be very sorry …’
Do you know why Romania will survive the end of the world? Because it is fifty years behind everyone else.
The wonders of communism
I can hardly imagine a better closing for this article on Romanian communist jokes other then quoting the sad humorous wonders of the oppressing regime:
Everybody had a place to work.
Although everybody had a place to work, nobody actually did.
Although nobody worked, the target was achieved over 100%.
Although the target was achieved over 100%, you could not buy anything.
Although you couldn’t find anything to buy, everybody had everything.
Although everybody had everything, everybody was stealing something.
Although everybody was stealing something, nothing was missing.