hammer tickle
A judge walks out of his chambers laughing his head off. A colleague approaches him and asks why he is laughing.

"I just heard the funniest joke in the world!"

"Well, go ahead, tell me!" says the other judge.

"I can't. I just gave someone ten years for it."

With the fall of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the world lost one of humanity's greatest cultural productions: the communist joke. Crossing cultures and borders, the jokes were unique, ubiquitous, and jam-packed with information. They were funny too. The mix of totalitarian power, propaganda, censorship, and ineptitude created the perfect climate for an underground joke-telling tradition.

In his book, Hammer and Tickle, Ben Lewis tracks down all the best jokes from the era, providing not only a handy compendium, but a cultural history of communism in the process. As communism changed, so did the jokes, revealing the different experiences and attitudes of the people during the times of Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, and then into the stagnation of the Brezhnev years and finally the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Note, MindMatters will be back in January. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Running Time: 01:22:14

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