Monday, March 30, 2015
The Russian Reversal Joke
Lily Rothman recently outlined the history of an old stand-up joke on the Time website. The joke is first known to have turned up on the 1958 Oscars. Bob Hope, who had just returned from a tour in Russia, noted that there had been televisions in all the rooms of his Moscow hotel. "Only, in Russia," he quipped, "the television watches you." Arte Johnson later revived the joke on Laugh-In. Johnson, in the guise of Eastern European immigrant Piotr Rosmenko, remarked, "Here in America, is very good, everyone watch television. In Old Country, television watches you!" In 1985, Yakov Smirnoff brought the joke into the Reagan era. He said, "In America, you watch television. In Soviet Russia, television watches YOU!!" Variations of the joke eventually turned up. One of the favorite variations went as follows: "In America, you can always find a party. In Soviet Russia, party can always find you!"
Rothman Lily. "In Soviet Russia, the Oscars Host You." Time (February 22, 2015). http://time.com/3715747/bob-hope-russian-reversal/.