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Persian Letters

Despite The Economic Crisis, There's Still Room For Jokes In Iran

Iranians have been turning to humor to help them cope with a bleak economic situation.
Iranians have been turning to humor to help them cope with a bleak economic situation.
Anxiety, fear, and hopelessness are becoming part of the daily lives of many Iranians as the country confronts a deepening economic crisis. The value of the national currency, the rial, has lost some 40 percent of its value.

But despite the difficult times, Iranians have apparently not lost their sense of humor, finding fodder for jokes in the sliding currency and their own misery. 

As one Tehran-based businessman told RFE/RL, “We share jokes [and] we try to laugh at these dark days. What else are we supposed to do?”

We’ve compiled several of the jokes that are making the rounds on the streets of the capital and other cities.

Here's one that refers to comments made by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad on the eve of his 2005 election victory, when he said the country's real problems are unemployment and housing shortages -- not young people's appearances.

That comment has now become infamous, as Ahmadinejad is blamed for the economic free-fall:

The day when Ahmadinejad said, "Are the hairstyles of the youth our problem? Let’s instead fix the economy," we were really lucky that he didn’t want to fix our hair -- because by now, we would all be bald!

Some jokes, like this one, make fun of the fluctuation of the rial, which seems to be losing value against the U.S. dollar from one second to the next:

How many rials are in a dollar?
Now, or… now?

The economic crisis is making it increasingly difficult for middle-class Iranians, including many of the country’s educated youth, to make ends meet. In this joke, a man whose profession would normally promise a high standard of living for his wife-to-be feels the need to pretend he has a job that has suddenly become quite lucrative:

A man goes to ask for the hand of a young woman. The woman's family asks about the suitor's job. To impress them, he says that he is a currency dealer on Manuchehri Street [in Tehran]. Only later does the family realize that he's just an engineer.

Here are some others:

An Iranian, an American, and a German die and go to hell. They each get permission to call home. The American is charged $1000 for his call, the German is charged $2000 for his call, but it only costs the Iranian $1 dollar to reach home. The American and the German ask why the Iranian was charged so little. There are told, "He made a local call."

If two people can't make ends meet anymore, can five or six people all marry each other to make it work financially?

A man takes his son to the zoo. He says, "Son, what you see is a chicken. We used to eat them when we were rich."

-- Golnaz Esfandiari
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Comment Sorting
by: Yashar from: Germany
October 05, 2012 22:36
Very fynny. I did not think you would translate jokes as well. Here is a joke I heard from a friend in Prague. What is the difference between Ahmadinejad and a correspondent of RFE/RL? Ahmadinejad talks through his hat but RFE/RL's correspondent talks through their ass !

by: Stephen Real from: Columbia USA
October 06, 2012 01:40
The Iranian people have rolling over here in laughter. Funny, funny stuff!

by: David
October 06, 2012 17:42
Glad to know Iranians have managed to keep up their great sense of humor during these tough times. The sanctions are so senseless. Why is the US punishing the people, instead of the regime?
In Response

by: Paul from: USA
October 07, 2012 02:25
How would they do that?

by: Adam from: Ireland
October 25, 2012 01:10
American Foreign policy has never ever worked in the history of this earth. Why do they think they have the right to dictate their policy over other sovereign nations? In the reverse - I’m sure Americans would not be to happy. Personally, I'm more terrified of the US having WMD, in fact there the only nation that actually used them! Would Mitt Rommy utilise WMD?

Its very unlikely the US can afford another war with weak economic growth, and large debt and a crippling economy. They should focus more attention at home as emerging powers are slowly but surly taking centre stage in the Bipolar world in which we all reside.

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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