Chapter 7 - Mikhail Zhvanetsky
What sort of images do big crayfish conjure up for you? Very big crayfish which were five roubles in the market yesterday? What about the much smaller crayfish that are three roubles today?
Have I lost you already?
Russians of my generation and older know exactly which crayfish I am talking about: the crayfish in Mikhail Zhvanetsky’s famous comic monologue. “Yesterday’s cost five roubles… they were big… but that was yesterday… very big, though… but it was yesterday, and today’s are three roubles – they’re small, but three roubles. But there they are…”
In the USSR of the 1980s you saw theatres full of people in tears of laughter at this monologue. Why? I did not understand this when I was younger, and didn’t find it particularly funny. Now looking back on it I can see better how people could relate to someone lost in pointless reflections, wasting his brain on choosing between options none of which were in fact available. Particularly when the stage version, slightly different from the written version of this monologue, went on: “If only I had five roubles yesterday… Not that I have three roubles today…”
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Click on the image below to watch Mikhail Zhvanetsky on Youtube:
Image source: www.jvanetsky.ru
“Богатство в России напоминает стояние в пробках на очень дорогом авто.” -- “Being rich in Russia is like being stuck in a traffic jam in a very expensive car.”
“История России — борьба невежества с несправедливостью.” — “The history of Russia is the fight of ignorance against injustice.”