Latvian humor is Nordic – in order for us to open up to it, we need to warm up / Article

Latvian humor is Nordic – in order for us to open up to it, we need to warm up / Article
Latvian humor is Nordic – in order for us to open up to it, we need to warm up / Article

Valdis Artavs

If you want to be in the Saeima

It is not necessary to have a great mind to be a deputy candidate.
The main thing is beautiful words, promises made to the people.
I am the wise one, others are sheep, I am the good one, others are lambs.
Only I will give you everything, only I will bless you.
If I come to power, I will make everyone happy
Handing out sandwiches without money, so there are no more cries of pity.
Pensions will be doubled, free brooms will be given in the sauna,
The money stolen from the bank will be returned tomorrow morning.
So if you promote yourself, everyone will vote for you.
But after that – as the people say – hello!
The promise does not fall into the wallet!
This is a fragment from the rhymes of the satirist Valdas Artavas, written more than 20 years ago. Artavs is one of our most prolific authors of humorous poems, he has published at least 14 poetry collections.

Adolf Alunanas, who started writing his ironic couplets at the end of the 19th century, can be considered one of the first. Rudolfs Blaumanis wrote “Skroderdienas Silmachis” in 1901, because he believed that Latvians have a tendency to teach each other, but – as he wrote – “no voice speaks for the fact that we also need fun”.

Jānis Dreslers, Jānis Steiks, Anšlavs Eglītis, who believed that Latvians are characterized by satire, says literary scholar Janīna Kursīte:

“Anšlavs Eglītis said that when a bunch of Latvians gather together, satire immediately arises. This can be observed even today.

If you follow what is written on social networks, you can see that we really do not lack satire. We know how to “pinch”, “bite”. But we miss the smile and laughter.”

We do not know the poet Mirdza Ġempi from her bright side, but it turns out that she has a very good sense of humor. It manifested itself already in the 1930s, when she adapted the texts of foreign hit songs to the needs of the Bellacord sound factory and laughed with funny forging verses, including “Snjaci, Minna!” are the words she made.

Kemba has been able to be self-deprecating in various situations. Also when someone marveled at the big age difference between her and her last husband, Linard Naikovsky, who was half her age. Janīna Kursīte says: “Someone had said – how come you have such a young husband?! Ġempe answered, playing on the topic of the Earth’s artificial satellites launched into space in 1957, the so-called satellites. She said: well, the Earth is old, but the satellite is young. On the other hand, when Naikovsky was asked the same question by his female students, whom he taught English, he also had a good sense of humor. He said – and what would you do if Rainis proposed to you?”

Among contemporary authors, Janīna Kursītei personally likes the humor of Egīls Zirņas, Egils Līcīš and Ines Zanderes. From the musicians’ circles, on the other hand, Raimonda Paula’s somewhat gloomy jokes, which were often heard when both worked in the Saeima. “Once he said to me: “Ms. Kursīte, how is it correct – to fix the door or to close the door?”. Everything is within the limits of politeness, but irony and humor are present,” recalls Janina Kursīte.

Latvian humor is not the witty and spontaneous Jewish humor, nor is it the bright and ostentatious Italian or French humor, our humor is Nordic, and in order for us to open up to it, we need to warm up – believes Janīna Kursīte: “It can be called heavy, but it can also be called for thoroughness. A Latvian opens up to humor, well, what’s there to hide, when a glass has been enjoyed, but not too much, because then the humor is well below the belt. Or it opens up when it has been casually chatting for a long time.

But we have our humor and as long as we have it, we’ll be fine.”

Latvians have many different encyclopedias, but, unfortunately, they do not have their own encyclopedia of humor, which would be very important to create – believes Janīna Kursīte.

You will be able to learn much more about Latvian humor on April 3 at the event “That’s a joke?! In the humor of Latvian literature”, which will be held at the Museum of Literature and Music.

The article is in Latvian

Tags: Latvian humor Nordic order open warm Article


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