For a time, Yakov Smirnoff was one of the hottest comedians in the country. As is the case with many of his brethren, that star can cool off very quickly. Still, he’s settled into a nice career since those amazing 1980’s, and he’s done a good job for immigration awareness. The Smirnoff that we see here is at the beginning of his ascent and his material shows why he was so promising to begin with.
After a warm introduction from Rodney Dangerfield, Smirnoff came on the stage. He talked about his defection and how he adjusted to life in America, how it was so different than his time in Russia. Their example of an American Express card commercial was “Don’t leave home!” This was during a time when the Cold War was still very much on and Ronald Reagan was trying to dismantle communism.
The former Russian comedian’s whole act was about how rough it was there. “You have to be careful how you heckle people in the audience. You can’t say, ‘Your mother wears Army boots. She probably does!’ Also, you can’t say, ‘Take my wife… please!’ When you get home… she’s gone!” Of course, this was during the time that Communism was still rampant there.
Some people might remember that Smirnoff had a recurring role on the sit-com “Night Court” where he played… and this was a stretch for him… a Russian named Yakov who defected to the United States. His running gag was that he had a very homely wife back there named Sonya, who apparently resembled Leonid Brezhnev, who was the General Secretary of the Communist Party. I always loved his appearances on the show.
Smirnoff is still active today. Have you seen him live? What was his act like? We’d love to hear all about it in the comments section. Also, please “Like” us on Facebook.