Be on the lookout for pranksters if you are in Odessa on April 1st. The humor-loving city is the only city in all of Ukraine where April Fools Day – known locally as Humorina – is an official holiday. Since 1973, humor and laughter have been celebrated with a citywide carnival.
This year is Humorina’s 40th anniversary, so, the events will be bigger than ever. The festival begins with a parade at noon. Forty different entertainment acts will appear on a stage near the Archeological Museum. This year also marks the opening of the world’s first embassy of humor, which will occupy a small home on Olgievskoy. The festival ends with a star-studded gala with performances from some of Ukraine’s hottest pop stars.
Off the stage, pranks abound. Tricksters sneak handfuls of confetti into closed umbrellas so their owners get a surprise when they lift them over their heads. Other common gags include turning all the clocks in the house an hour forward or substituting salt for sugar in the sugar bowls.
Visitors might be surprised to learn that Humorina began as an act of defiance. The festival was first organized by performers on the popular Ukrainian TV show KVN. KVN’s full name translates as “Club of the Funny and Inventive.” On the variety/competition show, contestants would battle to see who could come up with the funniest answers to the host’s questions. The show was cancelled in 1972 because Soviet censors found the jokes offensive and anti-Soviet. The creators of KVN organized Humorina in response so that they could keep their humorous traditions alive. Humorina draws visitors from all over the country; its popularity has led to the creator of Humorina festivals in other cities, including Jurmala, Latvia and St. Petersburg, Russia.
Photo: Official Humorina Site