About Yakov Smirnoff
Yakov Smirnoff first arrived in this country from Russia in 1977, with his parents and less than $100 in his pocket. He became an American citizen on July 4, 1986 when he was sworn in by Chief Justice Warren Burger at the Statue of Liberty. He has grown to become a respected comedic voice, cultural observer, command performer at the White House and family man. Since his rebirth in the United States, the comedian travels the world of comedy, maintains his topical edge and shares his insightful discoveries.
In 1993, Yakov opened his own 1,400-seat theatre in Branson, Missouri, where he has entertained over five million people. Now in its 11th year, the theatre is operated personally by Yakov and his staff, and the entire show and venue reflects this inspirational comedian''s unique insights into life, family, and these United States.
Yakov''s comedic style is firmly grounded within his mission statement “to experience happiness and teach it with passion through comedy and sensitivity.” Nowhere are these principles more evident than in his two children, Natasha and Alexander. Yakov continues to develop his comedy to reflect the dynamics between men and women, the happiness that can be found inside oneself, and a celebration of the spirit of life. The depths of Yakov’s development from naïve young immigrant to gentle, loving patriot can be found throughout his show. When Branson''s Two-Time Comedian of the Year isn''t performing sold out shows at his own theater in the heartland of America, Yakov likes to travel and appears at select venues across the United States. He will hit the road again beginning in January, 2004.
In addition to his comedy, Yakov is also an accomplished artist. While he holds a degree from a prestigious Russian art institute and has taught the subject professionally, Yakov (whose work can be seen throughout his theatre) now uses his paintbrush as a means of furthering his philosophy. His work was featured in a New York international art expo in 2001/2002 and is further evidence of the breadth of his creative talent. The painting that Yakov created just after 9/11, “America’s Heart,” looms triumphantly over the Ground Zero site in New York.
Yakov was a featured speaker during NASA''s salute to astronaut and Senator, John Glenn; performed at the Library of Congress for the inauguration of President George W. Bush and regularly assists in philanthropic causes.
In early 2003, Yakov brought his one-man show, “As Long As We Both Shall Laugh” to Broadway in New York City. This show will be broadcast in December, 2003 on PBS-TV. His film credits include "Moscow on the Hudson" with Robin Williams, "Brewster''s Millions" with Richard Pryor, "The Money Pit" with Tom Hanks and "Heartburn" with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. His many television credits include Showtime''s ACE Award nominee "Yakov Smirnoff from Moscow...Idaho," as well as his own 1986 syndicated series "What a Country.”
In addition to the comedian''s three videos and CDs ("Just off the Boat," "What a Country," and "I Bet You Never Looked at it That Way"), Yakov has also authored the book, "America on Six Rubles a Day.”