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Ukrainians use humour to help them cope with the horrors of war

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By Catherine Berijikian
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People attend Serhiy Lipko's stand-up comedy show in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, June 11, 2022.
People attend Serhiy Lipko's stand-up comedy show in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, June 11, 2022.   -   Copyright  Credit: AP Photo

You might think comedy is off the menu in Ukraine amid the horror of Russia's invasion.

But in a country that has elected its most famous comedic actor as president, it is perhaps fitting Ukrainians are turning to laughter as a coping mechanism for the war. 

One place it is happening is at a basement comedy club in the Ukraine capital Kyiv.

Here, jokes about Russian President Vladimir Putin and his army serve as a form of therapy for both the audience and the comedians themselves. 

"This is the only way to save your mental health in war, I suppose," said comedian Anton Tymoshenko. 

"Because I don't have money for a psychotherapist. A lot of Ukrainians don't have money for psychotherapists.”

A night out at one of these clubs costs between €7 and €9.

Some attendees say that they feel happier after watching a show, including Yuliia Shytk, an audience member.

"Thanks to them we actually can gather together and, you know, experience and enjoy together as well. So it's really nice. And I bet it's really hard for them, of course, like to write down those jokes, you know. But it helps everyone. So it's really cool."