In Soviet Russia, Trope Mocks You

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Russianreversal.jpg

"In America[...] you can always find a party.
In Russia, Party always finds you.

Roses are red
Violets are blue,

In Soviet Russia
Poem writes you!

Anonymous

In Soviet Russia, topic describes YOU!!

A type of joke, commonly called a Russian Reversal (but technically called the transpositional pun), popularized by Ukranian comedian Yakov Smirnoff. It is based on taking a statement about capitalist America and inverting it to describe the then-Communist Russia as an Orwellian hellhole. Smirnoff later added the prefix Soviet, to indicate the jokes were meant to target the past regime, as opposed to The New Russia. For instance:

In America, you watch Television.
In Soviet Russia, television watches YOU!

The joke originated on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, where Arte Johnson's ambiguously Eastern European character Rosmenko simply refers to "Old Country."

Here in America, is very good, everyone watch television. In Old Country, television watches you!

Long after the fall of Soviet Russia, this joke underwent Memetic Mutation. The Internet being what it is, these jokes ignored any attempts to make it seem Orwellian in favour of non-sequiturs like "In Soviet Russia, motorcycle rides YOU!" or the trope name. Now a Discredited Meme in some parts of the Net because of overuse.[1]

The source of many trope names, including Ass Kicks You, Dog Walks You, Bullet Dodges You,[2] The Door Slams You, The Can Kicked Him, and The Game Plays You.

See also Glorious Mother Russia for the Hollywood Atlas version of Soviet Russia that inspired the jokes.

In Soviet Russia, examples post YOU!

Trope Namer[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The Trope Namer is, of course Yakov Smirnoff [3] who made jokes about how the U.S.S.R. had a Big Brother Is Watching regime. It's also a case of Beam Me Up, Scotty; his most famous line was simply "In Russia...", not "In Soviet Russia..."
    • Half of his jokes were this. The other half were jokes about being a Funny Foreigner (e.g he goes into a a restaurant and gets asked how many are in his party, whereupon he replies "100 million")
    • He shifted his comedy after starting his theater in Branson back in 1992 (where he is still playing,) which means he quit using this joke long before it became an internet meme.

Anime and Manga[edit | hide]

Fan Works[edit | hide]

'MALP shows all clear' reported the control room over the loud speaker system.
'In Soviet Russia MALP watches you' Andianov declared as they headed up the ramp.
Teal'c couldn't understand why O'Neill, Major Carter and Daniel Jackson were in hysterics as they stepped through the gate.

  • Another Stargate fanfiction spends several pages detailing the operation of a Soviet-run SGC, all to set up the punchline when a KGB major mocks a captured goa'uld: "In Soviet Russia, Gods bow to you!".
  • From "It's a small world after all" the characters get kidnapped by fangirls. Russia responds "In Russia, fangirls don't kidnap chibis, chibis kidnap them, da?"


Film[edit | hide]

  • One of the first examples, and a contemporary with Yakov Smirnoff's standup comedy, comes from the movie Spaceballs, when the henchman of galactic gangster "Pizza the Hut" warns Lone Starr...

"You'd better pay up, or Pizza is gonna send out for you!"

"You try to get Igor. Igor get you!"

Kirk Lazarus : I don't read the script. The script reads me.

  • Horror satire The Stuff concerns a yogurt-like, addictive food that turns out to be a parasite. It eventually makes those who eat too much of it into zombies. One of the last lines is an investigator asking pointedly, "Are you eating it...or is it eating YOU?"

Literature[edit | hide]

When Jason opened his eyes, all he could see was a perfectly ordinary Underground carriage, and Virgil sitting on one of the seats, meditatively stirring a large pile of ash and charred bones. Jason winced.
"Let me guess," he said, "this is a No Smoking carriage."
"On the contrary," Virgil replied. "Only here, the train smokes the people."

  • Mad Magazine in an 1962 issue: "Russian politics can best be understood by comparing them with American politics. For instance, in America, politicians have to kiss babies, and if they don't, the mothers can take their offices away from them. In Russia, the system is somewhat different. To get food, mothers have to kiss politicians and if they don't, the politicians can take their babies away from them."
  • Subverted in the philosophy book Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar, when describing the difference between capitalism and communism.

Under capitalism, man exploits his fellow man. Under communism, the opposite is true.

    • This is a pretty common joke in the old Eastern Bloc. I've most often heard it cited as an East German "Fritzchen" joke, although it's been told as a Russian/Soviet "Vovochka" joke, as well.
    • Mike Myers parodies this on a behind-the-scenes feature on the DVD for The Cat In The Hat, combining it with a running joke. "Under capitalism, man exploits his fellow man. Under communism, it's the complete opposite. *pause* Because of the sand which is there."
  • City of Thieves mentions this:

We couldn't feed our pets, so our pets fed us.

  • In Mid-Flinx, Teal warns Aimee about the flower in her hair: "You do not wear the cristif, the cristif wears you." Unfortunately for Aimee, Teal's not making a Yakov Smirnoff reference: The "flower" is an invasive parasite, which sends its tendrils fatally bursting from Aimee's flesh seconds later.
  • Roger Zelazny's Jack of Shadows turned the tables on a vampire when she was too weakened by hunger to bite him first. He later made "I drank the blood of a vampire" part of his Badass Boast.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

Music[edit | hide]

(if the pilgrims could see what became of American society) "Instead of landing on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock would land on them!"

  • Of Montreal has a song titled The Party's Crashing Us (Do they mean the party?)
  • A line in the Muse song "Knights of Cydonia" goes, "Don't waste your time or time will waste you".

Mythology[edit | hide]

Recorded and Stand-up Comedy[edit | hide]

Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In Exalted, Autochthonian civilization has a decidedly communist aesthetic, and is unique in that the Alchemical Exalted are not the rulers of the civilization, but heroes in service to it. Thus, in Soviet Autochthonia, Exalted serve YOU!!
  • In Rifts, the standard cyborg presented in the main book is pretty underwhelming. However, in the Russia splatbook, there are numerous cyborg variants that can be some of the more powerful options. Thus in America, you defeat cyborgs; in Soviet Russia, cyborg defeats you!
  • One collection of epic monsters for Dungeons & Dragons introduces the junkyard golem with the line, "On the world of the Sklavadok, the trash takes you out!"

Theatre[edit | hide]

  • In the musical Leave It to Me! (1938), set largely in Soviet Russia, journalist Buck Thomas is handed a telegram by a messenger. He reaches in his pocket for a tip, but the messenger tells him:

Graustein: No tipping. In Soviet Russia, messenger tips you.
Thomas: Propaganda.
Graustein: Correct.

Times have changed
And we've often rewound the clock
Since the Puritans got a shock
When they landed on Plymouth Rock.
If today any shock they should try to stem
‍'‍Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock would land on them.

  • In "Monica" from I Love My Wife, the effects the eponymous girl has on people include "Men go ape/Apes go man."

Video Games[edit | hide]

  • In Final Fantasy XI there was the Republic of Bastok, the only one of the three starting nations that was not a Monarchy, jokes soon followed.
    • In Soviet Bastok, party looks for you!
  • BioShock (series) has this trope between two ghosts the player encounters:

Ghost 1: Fuck Fontaine!
Ghost 2: You don't fuck Fontaine. Fontaine fucks you!

In Soviet Russia, World Flags Lunchboxes eat j00!

  • In Guilty Gear, Hair cuts YOU! (bonus points- the character whose hair cuts you is russian)
  • From Touhou Imperishable Night:

Marisa: Move and I'll shoot! ...I messed up. I mean, shoot and I'll move. In a flash.

  • A certain mod of Sonic Robo Blast 2 contains an extra difficulty known as "Soviet Russia Mode". You know how Sonic breaks monitors by jumping on them? Well, in Soviet Russia, monitors break Sonic!
    • Robotnik monitors break Sonic too!
  • In World of Warcraft, when you attack a monster named Lurk, he says "In Nagrand, food hunt ogre!"

Web Comics[edit | hide]

Web Original[edit | hide]

(as Picard) You know, number one, in your country, you send ships into space, but in Soviet Russia, ship sends YOU into space!
Well, looks like they're screwed; unable to muck with the tractor beam that can only pull things...it looks like that ship seeking boulder is going to take out the Enterprise and Tsiolkovsky, which won't make them happy back in Soviet Russia. Wait, that's it! In Soviet Russia, tractor beam will PUSH!

Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • An episode of Family Guy involved a car with a GPS system, and one of its voice settings was "Yakov Smirnoff".

GPS: Turn left at the fork in the road. In Soviet Russia, road forks you!

  • In one episode of Futurama, Zoidberg's brief career as a stand-up comedian consisted solely of this type of joke.

Zoidberg: Earth! What a planet! On Earth, you enjoy eating a tasty clam. On my planet, clams enjoy eating a tasty you!
(glass clinking)

    • From the episode "Crimes Of The Hot":

Fry: That ice dispenser is so big, the ice crushes you. Yakov Smirnoff said that.
Leela: No he didn't.

      • Yet another Futurama example: In a comic I can't remember the name of right now, an entire race of aliens speak like this.

Alien: You don't feel the pain, the pain feels YOU!
Fry and Leela: SHUT! UP!

  • There was The Simpsons episode with a revue of stars of The Eighties. There is the line "So sit back, relax, and watch our revue," and Yakov slides in and says, "In Soviet Union, revue watches you!" This probably had a hand in revitalizing the meme for the Internet crowd.
  • The King of the Hill episode guest starring Smirnoff has him buying one of these jokes from Bobby, despite the comedian's protestations that he has abandoned this type of material in favor of relationship humor.
    • But give Bobby credit, at least he plays with the trope. "In America, you put 'In God We Trust' on the money. In Russia, we have no money!"
      • And Yakov pays Bobby for the joke and says "keep them coming."
  • In Transformers Generation 1 Galvatron is Ax Crazy while Cyclonus is the Sane Man. In Transformers Armada Galvatron is the Sane Man (well sort of) while Cyclonus is Ax Crazy.
  • From an episode of Rick and Morty: In order to escape the Council of Ricks, the duo enters a dimension populated by Pizza-People who eat humans, evidenced by the fact that two of them are ordering one for delivery on the phone. Then they switch to another dimension populated by Phone-People who use pizza as chairs and eat chairs, ordering one on a human-shaped phone. Finally, they find refuge in a dimension full of chair-people who use humans as chairs, and eat phones, ordering one on a pizza-shaped phone. Fortunately, they're non-hostile, despite being a little curious. The duo is later able to throw the pursuers off again by using two of the people-chairs that look like them as decoys.

Other[edit | hide]

If we don't end war, war will end us. -H. G. Wells


In Soviet Russia, Tropes ruin YOU!

  1. Although, in Soviet Russia, meme discredits YOU!
  2. which actually had "In Soviet Russia Bullet Dodges You" as a redirect for a while
  3. although in Soviet Russia the trope made him
  4. From a YouTube comment.
  5. It refers to the final scenes of Blade 1, which features Blade hunting Russian vampires in... Russia
  6. Innsmouthian Cthulhus, 400 roubles