Yakov 'Soviet Russia' Smirnoff (born 24 January 1951) is a comedian who emigrated to America from the USSR. He was popular in the 1980s for comedy performances in which he used irony and word play to contrast life under the Communist regime in his native Soviet Union with life in the United States, delivered in heavily accented English. He owns a theatre in Branson, Missouri, where he performs year-round. Smirnoff is also a professor at Missouri State University and Drury University where he teaches 'The Business of Laughter.' He also painted a 9/11 mural (see below). Smirnoff was born Yakov Naumovich Pokhis in Odessa, Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union. He is Jewish. He was an art teacher in Odessa and continues to paint.
Contributions by Altenmann, Frzl, and Zurishaddai.