By Rabab Ayesh
In the midst of the seemingly everlasting crisis and the civil war in Yemen and despite all the perilous and historic turning points Yemen is witnessing, many Yemenis still find the humor to tell jokes. Making jokes about the dire political situation and the economic collapse in Yemen has become a prevailing phenomenon that dominates Yemenis’ style of living.
Women and men, adults, elderly people, and even children make jokes about politics in the country. These jokes tend to spread in a rapid manner, especially in light of various social media outlets.
As the conflict in Yemen escalates to its current state, the intensification of jokes is also increasing. Public places as well as social media outlets are flooded with jokes that depict Yemenis’ harsh reality and the complex issues in the Yemeni political arena.
Sarcasm becomes Yemenis main outlet for their agonies and pain. It prevails in every corner of the country among all citizens. One way to find the best jokes about Yemenis’ daily lives is to visit social media or to join a group of Yemeni people during their afternoon Qat chewing sessions.
Generally, jokes are small pieces of texts that are usually one to two sentences long. These jokes usually attack Yemeni government members, politicians, or social figures in a humorous manner.
The odd matter here is that political joke telling is not a talent restricted only to a group of people. It is a common trait for all Yemenis.
Jokes about politics have become a phenomenon that shapes all Yemenis life styles regardless of their political views, age, or intellectual backgrounds. Jokes has become Yemenis’ main mean for criticizing governmental reforms and to show their disapproval toward the changes taking place in the Yemeni political arena.
While some Yemeni citizens find these jokes interesting and enjoyable, others resent them during these hard times. This disapproval stems from the belief that Yemenis should not laugh at their agonies and pain. They should try to find solutions to their problems instead. They believe that laughing at problems complicates them more.
‘I believe jokes to be a wrongdoing. Sometimes, the new event is painful and does not need humorous criticism. I think of those who change the crisis into subjects of sarcasm are idiots. We should cooperate and think of practical solutions for our problems instead of laughing at them,” stated Abdalkreem Ali, a university student.
The only issue that has the power to bring Yemenis together today is coming up with jokes about their tragedies and changing the dire circumstances into interminable chains of jest.
“Whenever a new problem or conflict arises I open my Facebook page to see how Yemenis read the new event and what jokes do they tell about the new event,” stated Limya Sadeq, a 28 year woman from Taiz.
“Sometimes, I feel sorry whenever I read jokes about some sensitive and grave issues, issues that I believe should not be laughed at. Some youths kill me when they laugh at the cold-blooded massacres that we witness in Yemen. The political crisis in Yemen is the richest subject for Yemenis to make jokes about. The art of political joke telling starts to be a phenomenon that dominates their lives. As the situation escalates, many people, especially members of social media, start to squeeze their minds to think of jokes about the new event.”