#36 - Yakov Smirnoff

Yakov Smirnoff came to the United States from Russia in the 70s and, landing in Los Angeles, literally lived at The Comedy Store in Hollywood where he began to develop his stand-up act. Rocketing to fame in the 80s Yakov was everywhere - The Tonight Show, in movies, his own sitcom and in commercials. But with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the cooling of the Cold War, Yakov's Russian-in-America act and persona began to lose its relevance and impact.

In the process of reinventing himself a faltering marriage drove him to learn more - about love, laughter and how those things go hand-in-hand. Yakov's journey includes revitalization in, of all places, Branson, Missouri, getting a degree from an Ivy League school, becoming a professor  and now regularly going up at his old "home" The Comedy Store and bringing a new act and new perspective to appreciative audiences.

To hear more about his early years a great companion piece to this podcast would be Marc Maron's WTF conversation with Yakov, which you can get here as a subscriber, or listen on YouTube here.

Yakov will be appearing at The Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills on August 16th, as well as heading back to his 2000 seat theater in Branson in late September through early December, and will be shooting a PBS special, "Happily Ever Laughter" to air in early 2016.

Get more info about Yakov and his performing schedule at Yakov.com and you can follow him on Twitter @yakov_smirnoff

Enjoy! -LM

Yakov was everywhere in the mid-80s...even in a Miller Lite commercial...