What do you think of when you hear the word Russia? Is it the unique architecture of the buildings in the Russian capital of Moscow? Is it the bright music and elegant dancing from The Nutcracker Ballet, created by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky? Is it the nesting dolls? Or maybe the warm furry hats? Well, here in Branson when local folks and loyal tourists hear the word Russia, they tend to think of the beloved Russian comedian, Yakov Smirnoff, and his hilarious stand-up comedy – and his patriotism.
Yakov Smirnoff immigrated to the United States from the USSR in 1977 and was granted U.S. citizenship in 1986. Prior to his coming to America, he worked as an art teacher in Odessa, Ukraine. During the 1980s, Yakov rose to fame in the comedy world for his stand-up comedic performances in which he used word play and irony to contrast life in the United States with life in his native Soviet Union – his heavy Russian accent made his acts all the more hilarious. His ‘America – What a Country!’ jokes about seeing the U.S. as a first time immigrant became extremely popular. Yakov eventually purchased his own theater in Branson, Missouri, in 1992 and he has been here ever since, much to the delight of the Branson/Tri-Lakes community.
Putting on comedy shows, surprisingly enough, is not the only career that Yakov has had; he was also a television personality, an actor, a freelance writer, a Broadway show creator (called ‘As Long As We Both Shall Laugh’), and in May of 2006, Yakov received a Master’s degree in Positive Psychology and he teaches classes on that subject at both Drury University and Missouri State University. Drawing on his early career as a painter, Yakov painted a 9/11 mural as a memorial to the victims after the terrible tragedy – the memorial was temporarily on display at Ground Zero until weather damages dictated its removal. Pieces of the mural can be seen today at Yakov’s Branson theater.
The Yakov Smirnoff Theater in Branson, Missouri, is located off of State Highway 248, just south of Branson Hills Parkway. This October through November, Yakov is putting in a new addition to his show – dinner! Guests to this show will receive a delectable candlelit meal, while enjoying the hilarious comedy that Yakov has become so famous for. This year, Yakov has also been making appearances in Hollywood, California with his Happily Ever Laughter tour. The tour ends in September, and Branson is ready to welcome their favorite comedian back home for the all new Dinner with Yakov show! Book your tickets now for some dinner theater you won’t want to miss.
Yakov has been a symbol of laughter, love and patriotism in the Branson community for over twenty years. If you have not yet seen his famous show, get your tickets today! It will be a memorable performance and you are guaranteed to ‘laugh your yak-off!’