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Gabrovo House of Humor and Satire
23.04.2007   R. Tzvetkova
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House of humor and satire in Gabrovo

Not at all jokingly, 35 years ago the House of Humor and Satire in the town of Gabrovo, Northern Bulgaria, was born on 1 April, as the offspring of love for laughter and merry-making. Located in the center of the central Bulgarian town of rich humorist and folklore traditions, it greets visitors with the Park of Laughter showing sculptures of great laughing heroes – the Bulgarian folklore champion of humor Witty Petar, the emblematic comic Charley Chaplin and the irresistible Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. The House of Humor and Satire is a museum of laughter, a gallery of world humorist art, but also an entertainment spot and tourist attraction for both kids and adults. It has four floors and 10 exhibition halls and some special attractions too. You have to start your adventure from the hall featuring the roots of Gabrovo-styled humor.

“An arch bears the slogan ‘Welcome and Good Riddance’”, explains Tatiana Tsankova, director of the House. “Gabrovo people wanted to remind their guests that at a certain point they had to go. Also, in its Gabrovo version Good Riddance is not rude, it means you had guests, they were pleased with the reception and went away satisfied. The Town Hall borrowed our slogan and placed it on the gates of Gabrovo. A hall in our house is called Planet Gabrovo. It is good for kids – you can see a speaking mouth, an all-seeing eye and an all-hearing ear. It has many labyrinths and mysterious corners. To our mind this hall portrays Planet Gabrovo, the Planet of Laughter. The Planet was discovered on 1 April by a Ukrainian scholar and was named Gabrovo, as a token of the town’s incredible humorist creativity. This is a hall for children aged from 5 to 105. We show the world’s carnivals there. The House of Humor keeps in contact with 200 carnival towns and cities. The Gabrovo festival is presented duly too. The famous Gabrovo cat lives in the House. Every year in May it is taken out and the mayor cuts its tail. Well, let me tell you that we only cut cats’ tails in the famed Gabrovo anecdotes. We are not that cruel. The cat with a cut tail is the symbol of the energy efficiency of our grandparents – cutting the cat’s tail allows to shut the door quickly when the cat comes in or out, and thus to keep the room warmer. We have a hall called Eden. In it we come up with the argument that Adam and Eve came from Gabrovo.”

Gabrovo House of Humor and Satire has remarkable attractions, such as the distorting mirrors hall, and the First Private Anecdote Bank, which grants credit to the amount of one anecdote to everyone willing to take a loan. Of course it also accumulates its own capital of jokes told by visitors. Are you a bit tired? Then visit the Tailless Semi-Bar where you will be served half a coffee at the price of one coffee in special mini-Gabrovo cups designed by the Bulgaria’s leading cartoonist, late Boris Dimovski.

“As a memento from Gabrovo you can take away funny Gabrovo souvenirs: mini-cups, economic sugar bowls,” Tatiana Tsankova says. “You can also buy various Gabrovo cat varieties, and the Gabrovo slogan ‘The world survived because it laughed’ inscribed on a whole range of souvenirs. The Special Gabrovo clocks go contrariwise. Gabrovo people are notoriously thrifty and want to reclaim gone moments.”
The most popular token however is the volume of Gabrovo Anecdotes translated in Russian, English, German, French and Spanish. The House of Humor and Satire organizes many events, and one of them is the International Biennial of Humor and Satire in Arts.

“We organize the biennials in odd years and they are unique worldwide,” explains Tatiana Tsankova. “Our biennial goes across various genres of humor and satire – cartoons, paintings, sculptures, posters, funny photos. Our Grand Prix is the Golden Aesop by sculptor Georgi Tchapkanov. Awarded artists are entitled to one-man exhibitions over the next year. In this way the House of Humor has acquired a huge collection of more than 50 000 works. Most of them are donations,” concludes the director of the Gabrovo House of Humor and Satire Tatiana Tsankova.

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