The Armenian Radio jokes were hugely popular in the Soviet Union and well after its collapse, but remained a part of the folklore as no in-depth examination had been carried out for a comprehensive compilation up until very recently. And this served as a major source of inspiration for us to make up for a missed opportunity and make a gift to ourselves, our parents and grandparents, and to all those people who had memories of those times. The project consists of two physical parts - a replica of an old radio receiver and a book, nestled in the receiver itself.
A ‘protagonist’ of Soviet humor, Armenian Radio jokes usually start with the expression 'The Armenian Radio was asked' or 'Radio Yerevan was asked,' followed with a question and a paradoxical and absurd answer, containing a fair amount of satire on the 'realities of Soviet life.' The popularity of the Armenian radio reached its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, but Radio Yerevan jokes are still relevant and witty as ever.
The history of the origin of Armenian Radio jokes is rather mysterious. The author of the book "Yerevan Civilization", Armen Davtyan wrote: “Most likely, the Armenian radio jokes were a parody of the Soviet radio program ‘Questions and Answers’.” During the latter, evasive and ambiguous answers were given to direct questions from foreigners about the Soviet reality, with the presenters often laughing the queries off.
Mostly created outside Armenia and not by Armenians, the jokes focus on pun, absurd, politics and intimacy questions.
Making the radio receiver - Prior to turning the idea into reality, the design team did a thorough research to find an optimal solution for the device. Besides the design team, 11 other companies were involved in the process of creating the old-fashioned replica of the radio receiver.
Making the book - Given that we had no official database to find all the materials created throughout the many decades, we gathered several thousand jokes printed in a hand-published book format here and there and compiled a selection of 100 jokes instead. Once we had the final picks, we collaborated with more than 20 individuals and state archives to find photos of the second half of the 20th century that would best describe each joke.
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Yana Kutyina & Andrey Belonogov
© 2016, Gazprom Armenia.
"Armenian Radio" Anthology of anecdotes and series of archive photos of Yerevan