In one of his interviews, President Putin used the expression "Кто в лавке-то останется? Кто работать будет?", apparently alluding to some well-known joke, but I can't find any reference to the original.

Is this expression idiomatic? What does it mean? What is its origin?

  • Asking for a joke reference is off-topic unless it has something to do with Russian language as a topic
    – shabunc
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 23:09
  • if you fail to find something at google you can try your luck at yandex - yandex.ru/search/…
    – shabunc
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 23:12
  • @il--ya sure, let's think what would be a better category. However it's not about being trivial - it's about being off-topic.
    – shabunc
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 16:30
  • 2
    @shabunc: I've changed the wording in the question, does it look good now?
    – Quassnoi
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 17:52
  • 1
    @Quassnoi thanks! I agree with you that in this form it's on-topic
    – shabunc
    Commented Dec 27, 2021 at 19:24

1 Answer 1


This sentence alludes to a century-old Jewish joke
(where "Jewish" doesn't imply that it's "told by Jews," but rather "about Jews").

And old Jew is on his deathbed, surrounded by his weeping family.
In a weak voice, he asks:
— Is Sara here?
— Yes, honey, I'm right beside you.
— Is Joseph here?
— Yes, Dad, here I am.
— Is Samuel here?
— Yes, Grandpa, I'm with you.
— А кто же в лавке остался ?! [So who's minding the shop?!]

  • 5
    Significant part of the fun of this joke is the way of delivering it. While most lines of the dying man are spoken in a weak, frail voice, the last line is spoken in a strong, healthy voice, making an impression that now he is not really going to die.
    – Alexander
    Commented Dec 29, 2021 at 18:37
  • 1
    The joke belongs to the Jewish culture and to a quite big group of jokes referenced as Jewish humor. First of all the jokes are "created by Jews" inside the Jewish community/neighborhood.
    – 30thh
    Commented Dec 31, 2021 at 10:27

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