There are few Czech politicians who have left such a mark on Czech society as President Vaclav Klaus. He has been in high politics for more than 15 years non-stop and there is hardly anyone who has so many devoted followers and staunch critics at the same time. With a manner that some describe as authoritative and others as unbearably arrogant, Vaclav Klaus leaves few people indifferent and that may be one of the reasons why he is the target of so many jokes. A collection of these jokes has just been published in Prague.
"On Radio Prague's airwaves this is Vaclav Klaus, the President of the Czech Republic. I wish you many happy days and moments with this blessed radio station..."
"President Vaclav Klaus" greeting Radio Prague's listeners as impersonated by the comedian Petr Jablonsky, who launched the book "Vaclav Klaus in jokes, stories and riddles" together with the author of the compilation, Vaclav Budinsky. Mr Budinsky, who has been collecting popular jokes for many years, says Czech political humour has certain special qualities.
"I think more political jokes circulate in Czech society than elsewhere, not least because during communism we used to tell more jokes about our politicians than people in most countries. It may be the Czech mentality - Czechs can make fun of everything, they like to ridicule things. This nation had been under yoke of foreign rulers for centuries - people learned how to fight back with humour, as a way of resisting domination by other powers and politicians."
Under communism people used political humour as a valve to release tension or to spice up the dull reality of life under communism. There were countless jokes mocking the stupidity and corruption of the communist leaders. With the fall of the regime the apparently bottomless well of political humour seemed to dry out. But author Vaclav Budinsky disagrees.
"People had expected there would be fewer jokes after the fall of communism but the opposite has proven true. It may seem as though there are fewer jokes because they no longer spread so fast. In the old regime when a joke was coined, everybody in the whole country knew it within two or three days. People didn't have much else to do and they also had a feeling they were doing something illegal."
Vaclav Budinsky admits that these days he has to actively look for jokes about politicians. Apart from pricking up his ears in pubs and talking to his scouts, he also has to scour the internet. And by the way, have you heard this one? What is the difference between God and Vaclav Klaus?... God doesn't think he's Vaclav Klaus...
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