Yakov Smirnoff

"Spendidly funny!" The New York Times

A thumbnail of Yakov's PBS Special Video

Thumbnail image of link to Paul Harvey's "Rest of the Story" about Yakov


Yakov Smirnoff is a legend in American comedy. After escaping communist Soviet Russia in the 1970’s, he came to this country with nothing but a dream. Not even knowing the language, Yakov humbly 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 would then make the move to Los Angeles where the owner of The Comedy Store, Mitzi Shore, took him under her wing.

His lovable view of life through the eyes of a poor immigrant captured the hearts of America. He soared to the top of the comedy world performing on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and countless other television programs, including as a regular character on “Night Court” and the star of 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 to name a few.

Yakov Smirnoff is an iconic comedian, movie star, best-selling author and most recently, he has earned a doctorate degree in Leadership from Pepperdine University. Living a life that’s as exciting as ever, Yakov has married his sweetheart, is currently touring the world doing stand-up, and even has his very own theater in Branson, Missouri. With the heart of dreamer, Yakov Smirnoff has made the impossible possible and continues to inspire others with his message that America is still “What a Country!” Keep an eye out for his brand-new podcast on ABC radio, look for him at a theater near you and stay tuned for what Dr. Yakov does next!




3446 W. HWY 76


What's Happening

Yakov with LOVE

What's Happening

Yakov’s comedic style is firmly grounded within his mission statement “to experience happiness and teach it with passion through comedy and sensitivity”. As part of his ongoing quest for knowledge and understanding about relationships, Yakov earned his Masters degree in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, graduating in May 2006. He just earned his Doctorate Degree in Psychology and Global Leadership at Pepperdine University, graduating on May 18, 2019.

Yakov is in the initial stages of developing a residential community “Yakov Towers” in Branson Missouri. 

Introducing...Dr. Yakov Smirnoff!

Dr. Yakov Smirnoff

Yakov earned his Doctorate Degree in Psychology and Global Leadership at Pepperdine University, graduating on May 18, 2019.

For the Press

Bio, Photos and other resources.


Yakov, the Artist

Yakov holds a degree from a prestigious Russian art institute. As an accomplished artist he has taught the subject professionally and his work has been featured in the New York international art expo.  The painting that Yakov created just after 9/11, America’s Heart, was displayed as a mural over Ground Zero in New York City. His artwork hangs throughout his theater in Branson. You may view them by clicking here. Prints are also available by clicking here.

Yakov, the Artist


Yakov has videos, books, artwork prints, souvenirs and other items available for purchase.