The month-long absence of ailing President Hugo Chávez has elicited prayers, an emotional street rally and heated political debate. Amid the tense wait for news from Chávez's hospital in Cuba, Venezuelans are also turning to one of their most prized national attributes: a biting, irreverent sense of humour.
A flurry of jokes and political cartoons have taken aim at the government's postponement of Chávez's inauguration.
When the president's followers took to the streets to symbolically take the oath in Chávez's place, some critics said the outlandishness hit a new, surreal high.
"What's happening is so absurd that people don't know whether to laugh or cry," said Claudio Nazoa, a Venezuelan comedian.
One cartoon by Rayma Suprani in the newspaper El Universal turned its gallows humour to the Supreme Court, which approved putting off Chávez's swearing-in.
It showed a woman who appeared to be a judge using a guillotine to slice up the Constitution.
The popular satirical website El Chiguire Bipolar, named after a giant rodent that is common on the plains of Venezuela, took aim at the government's slogan "We're all Chávez," with a particularly caustic spoof article.
The site alluded to Venezuela's high murder rate, saying in the headline: "21,000 Chávezes who died at the hands of criminals can't attend the inauguration."
"Jokes play a role of social catharsis, and that's why there is acid wit and irony," said Tulio Hernandez, a sociology professor at Central University of Venezuela. "It's a way of letting off steam."
Dark humour about Chávez's condition and Venezuela's unsettled situation has popped up in various parts of Latin America.
One cartoon by Brazilian political cartoonist Sinfronio de Sousa Lima Neto circulated widely online.
It depicted the grim reaper entering a hospital room where Fidel Castro was with Chávez. The grim reaper asks "Who is Fidel?" and Fidel points to Chávez saying: "He's the one right here."
Another Brazilian humorist, Jose Simao, cracked jokes on Twitter and in his newspaper column.
"I think Chávez isn't on the island of Cuba. He's on the island of Lost," Simao said on Twitter, referring to the popular television series.