Series: KVN

Full title Klub Vesyolykh i Nakhodchivykh (Club of the cheerful and nimble-witted people)

Soviet (later Russian) Comedy Programme. Part Game Show, part amateur comedy (mainly Stand-Up Comedy and covers of popular songs with lyrics replaced). Teams of college students compete to be the funniest.

Started in 1961 to replace a similar live-air show with Audience Participation which got canceled for causing a riot.details  Enjoyed great popularity. Got canceled in 1971 because the increasingly strict and bizarre censorship demandse.g.  made the program unfunny; the organizers' attempts to loosen the demands resulted in a lengthy and unpleasant investigation. Resurrected in 1986 by members of the original crew and some of the former participants, continues to this day. Outside USSR (and post-Soviet countries) attracted sizable attention in Israel, Germany, USA, Canada, Britain.

KVN games are very common in Russian colleges, but when talking about KVN, most people refer to the Supreme League, hosted by the self-perpetuating president Alexander Maslyakov. Its season spans one year, with the introducing festival being held in January and the finale taking place shorty before New Year's Eve. Each of the competitions is carried out between four teams, each of whose typically represents a college akin to a college sports team. The match consists of four to five rubrics, the traditional ones being the opening Introduction, the subsequent question- and answer-based Warm-Upnote  and the closing Musical rubric. There is a topic for each rubric, but it is accepted that teams follow it loosely, at best. At the end of each rubric, the teams are evaluated by a jury, and usually, the two teams that have the most points pass to the next competition. The term "usually" should be applied to the entire paragraph: The rules of the league are changed frequently, sometimes even mid-season.

The second-highly acclaimed league is the Premier League that is hosted by Alexander Maslyakov Jr, the founder's son, and is often viewed as a stepping stone to the Supreme League. There is also the Summer Cup, a standalone event where only winners of the Supreme League may participate.

KVN has had an overwhelming impact on the Russian comedy community, serving as a career-starting experience not unlike musical Talent Shows. From 2000s on, former members of successful teams either started or participated in virtually all comedy shows and in many comedy movies and series. Although often snarked upon, the KVN, at least the Supreme League, maintained a decent standard of humour so far, mainly thanks to Maslyakov and his team keeping obscenities at an acceptable level. The Premier League is said to have been founded specifically to introduce Maslyakov Jr into the business, so it looks like KVN will stay around for a while.

This series provides examples of:

  • Amazon Brigade: There have been all-female teams from time to time. However, they never gained much success, mainly because of their Crippling Overspecialization on jokes using female stereotypes.
  • Appeal to Flattery: Varies in subtlety from team to team, but the amount of flattery towards Maslyakov is rather disturbing for a Western audience.
  • Celebrity Impersonator: In the early 2000s, nearly every prominent team sported a Putin impersonator. As the screws got tightened in Russia, this practice quickly vanished. There are rumors that Putin is not amused to see himself in comedy shows, not even in a positive light.
  • Home Field Advantage: Averted, although most of the games take place in Moscow, it was lacking a team strong enough to participate in the Supreme League for almost two decades after the relaunch.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Ditto for many of the teams.
  • The Patriarch: Alexander Maslyakov, co-founder of the show and owner of the company running it.
  • Ugly Cute: Invoked fairly often, most prominently by Mikhail Galustyan. There was even a team built around this trope. A team that won the Supreme League in 2004.