Yakov Smirnoff is a legend in American comedy. After escaping communist Soviet Russia in the 1970s, he came to the United States with nothing but a dream. Without knowing the English language, Yakov began working as a bartender at the famous Grossinger’s Catskill Resort in New York, where he was able to tell jokes each night after his shifts. As his English improved, he quickly grew in popularity. He soon made the move to Los Angeles where the owner of The Comedy Store, Mitzi Shore, took him under her wing.
His endearing view of life through the eyes of a poor immigrant captured the hearts of Americans. He soared to the top of the comedy world performing on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and countless other television programs. Yakov was even a regular on “Night Court” and had his very own show, named after his famous catch-phrase, “What a Country!” He branched out to the big screen where he starred in movies with Tom Hanks, Robin Williams, and Jack Nicholson – just to name a few!