The European Journal of Humour Research

Vol 9, No 1 (2021)

Soviet policy in the sphere of humour and comedy: the case of satirical cinemagazine Fitil

Maria Vorobyeva


Satirical cinemagazine Fitil (The Fuse), one of the final products of the Thaw, the time of liberalization in both foreign and domestic policy of the Soviet Union, appeared in 1962 and was produced under the supervision of Sergei Mikhalkov, a prominent public and literary figure in the USSR. Vivid and engaging, the cinemagazine starred many famous theatre and cinema actors and soon became an important part of mainstream satire, which was aimed at reinforcing the Soviet regime by criticizing some of its flaws. The significance attached to Fitil by Soviet authorities can be illustrated by the fact that its episodes were shown before films in cinemas, that is, it was officially promoted and was seen by the mass public across the Union. Fitil was expected not only to relieve social tension, but also marked the boundaries of the permissible in public criticism and satire. The agenda of Fitil was heterogeneous and dynamic: apart from a number of permanent themes, such as bureaucracy and red tape, bad management, poor service in retail and catering, alcohol abuse, morals, and manners, there were variations in the choice of themes and subjects of satire in different periods. The changes also affected the degree of generalization, the scale of the problems discussed and characteristics of the comic itself. This article analyzes Fitil issues of 1962-1991 and outlines the cinemagazine’s agenda and its changes in time. It is shown that Fitil was a part of mainstream satire, determined by the state policy in the sphere of humour and comedy.



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