Russian reversal

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A Russian reversal is a type of joke, usually starting with the words "In Soviet Russia", in which the subject and objects of a statement are reversed, usually to reference the propaganda of an enemy that is the exact opposite of the interlocutor.[1]

The jokes are usually told in broken English, without articles, in the way that a native Russian speaker might, which makes such reversals easier. A Russian reversal is an example of an antimetabole, a transpositional pun, and a chiasmus.


Although the exact origin of the joke is unknown, it is believed the joke has existed since the 1950s. Bob Hope used the joke at the 1958 Academy Awards.[2] In the 1968–73 television show Laugh-In, a recurring character, "Piotr Rosmenko the Eastern European Man" (played by Arte Johnson), delivered short jokes such as "Here in America, is very good, everyone watch television. In old country, television watches you!". This joke alludes to video screens that both reproduce images and monitor the citizenry, as in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The joke form is often credited to Ukrainian-American comedian Yakov Smirnoff, although he only rarely used Russian reversals; one exception was a Miller Lite commercial in which he appeared in 1985, wherein he states: "In America, there's plenty of light beer and you can always find a party. In Russia, Party always finds you."[1][3]


Examples include:

In America, you find party.
In Soviet Russia, party finds you!
In America, you watch Big Brother.
In Soviet Russia, Big Brother watches you!
In America, you break law.
In Soviet Russia, law breaks you!
In America, you watch television.
In Soviet Russia, television watches you!
In America, you pick government.
In Soviet Russia, government picks you!
In America, you kill leader.
In Soviet Russia, leader kills you!
In America, you are part of human resources.
In Soviet Russia, human resource is part of you!
In America, you laugh at song.
In Soviet Russia, song laughs at you!
In America, you go to doctor.
In Soviet Russia, doctor goes to you!
In America, you have right to bear arms.
In Soviet Russia, you have right to whole bear!


  1. ^ a b In Soviet Russia, snowclones overuse you Language Log - by Mark Liberman
  2. ^ Rothman, Lily (2015-02-22). "In Soviet Russia, the Oscars Host You". Time. Retrieved 2017-02-17. 
  3. ^ "Yakov Smirnoff Miller Lite Commercial (1985)". YouTube. 11 November 2007.