Russian TV Show Pokes Fun At Armenians; Union Of Armenians In Russia


2009/08 /07 | 12:40


Russia’s "Channel One" recently launched its own version of the British
comedy "The Kumars at 42â[email protected]³. While the English lambasts the Indian
community, the Russian version has decided to poke fun at Armenians,
highlighting their flamboyant life style and pretensions.

In response, the Union of Armenians in Russia has sent a protest
letter to "Channel One" describing the show as a faulty caricature of
Armenians and demands that the program be taken off the air. Here’s
the article that appears in today’s "The Moscow Times".

On Sunday, Channel One launched its own version of the British comedy
show "The Kumars at 42." The original show has jokes about an Indian
family, while the Russian version chose Armenians as its local amusing
ethnic group. And the Armenians aren’t very happy.

The concept of the British show is that a would-be television star
can’t get a job, so he decides to film his own chat show at home. Real
famous people step through his front door and are accosted by his
embarrassing relatives, who are actors performing scripted and
improvised jokes.

The show on Channel One is called "Rubik Almighty." The ad for the show
explains that Rubik is a wealthy Armenian who likes to "buy and sell
everything" and has decided to pay for his own show on Channel One.

Amazingly, television critic Irina Petrovskaya told Ekho Moskvy that
she initially thought that this was for real.

Rubik lives in a huge, tastelessly decorated house with his blonde
Russian girlfriend, his middle-aged sister, his sex-mad grandfather
and his geeky teenage nephew Gamlet, or Hamlet, a popular boy’s name
in Armenia.

The Union of Armenians in Russia on Wednesday published a letter of
protest to the director of Channel One, calling the Armenian family

"The show was announced as a comedy, but what we saw provoked not
laughter but a natural storm of indignation among Armenian youth in
Russia," the letter said.

Armenians are traditionally viewed as the funniest people in the
Soviet bloc, along with Jewish people. While the idea that an Indian
chat show host can’t get his own show in Britain has a satirical edge,
it’s hard to argue that there’s any discrimination against Armenians
on Russian television — as long as they’re being funny.

Garik Martirosyan appears on current-affairs comedy show
"ProjectorParisHilton"; Mikhail Galustyan is the co-star of the sketch
show "Nasha Russia"; Tigran Keosayan hosts a late-night discussion
show; Yevgeny Petrosyan is the long-running star of "Crooked Mirror,"
an old-fashioned variety show; and the "Comedy Club" stand-up show
is owned by Armenians.

The star of "Rubik Almighty," Ruben Dzhaginyan, is well-known in
Armenia as a former member of its KVN student comedy team and the
head of a big ad agency.

The pilot show was flashy but not very funny. The guests were
Dmitry Dibrov, a Channel One host whose grin occasionally slipped
off his frozen face, and Anna Semenovich, a figure skater turned pop
singer. She looked frightened as the jokes focused on her ample bosom.

The best jokes were about Dibrov’s frequent trips to the registry
office –â[email protected]¯he recently married two girls, aged 23 and 19 — and a
question to vocally challenged sexpot Semenovich: "Is it true that
the only way to get into show business is via ice skates?"

Part of the problem is that Russian television doesn’t really
have the celebrity chat show format that "The Kumars at 42â[email protected]³ was
parodying. Reactions to the show were baffled. "What on earth was
it?" wrote Chocolita on LiveJournal.

Armenians complained that the show was offensive to their nation.

"I consider ‘Rubik Almighty’ a personal insult," wrote Slishkomtiho,
an Armenian blogger. "Either take [Dzhaginyan] off the air or force
him to speak without an accent," Juber wrote on the Channel One forum.

Rubik spoke with an exaggerated accent, which was presumably fake. All
the Armenian stars on television speak Russian without any accent.

What’s more, Rubik is a collection of all the stereotypes about
Armenians: He flashes the cash, likes blondes, keeps things in the
family, never stops doing business and is irritatingly successful.

Although if I could pick my national stereotypes, I wouldn’t mind
those ones.

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