WTF Podcast

Episode 451 - Yakov Smirnoff

Yakov Smirnoff is the only guest who ever had to submit his material to the Soviet Ministry of Jokes. He has a lot less pressure in the garage talking with Marc about coming to America, landing a job at The Comedy Store, rocketing to stand-up stardom in the 80s and watching it all crumble away along with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Then hear the surprising way Yakov reinvented himself in comedy, as well as in life. This episode is sponsored by HuluPlus, ProFlowers, Shari’s Berries and Adam & Eve

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  • 20 Comments


Listener Greg December 12, 2013 at 10:31 am


This was one of my favorite episodes yet. Yakov took a bigger, more surreal hit than most people ever take in their professional lives, and hearing how he put ego aside because he had to make do for his family is a HUGE lesson about what’s really important.

This episode really exemplifies WTF’s goal of fleshing people out and giving them dimension by just letting them tell their story– kudos all around.

howdy December 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm


He seems like a really nice man and this was a fun interview. Thank you!

I was, however, reminded of this really funny review/discussion about Yakov’s Dinner Theater from the O&A show (It starts with a general Branson/Barry Williams discussion:
http://youtu.be/EVLahWcaZSk

MG December 12, 2013 at 7:43 pm


Fascinating. More international comedian guests on your show, please! “Department of Jokes” is no joke!

Michael P. Gowdy December 13, 2013 at 7:34 am


Best USSR joke:
“My dad went to the kitchen and opened a cupboard. He pulled out a coffee can that had rolls of money in it.
My mom was amazed. She asked, ‘HOW did you find coffee?’”

Bumper December 13, 2013 at 10:33 am


WTF, my one-stop xmas shopping place. I just got that 100 blooms deal for my mom and last week ordered something to stick into my girlfriend from A&E—that half off and free shipping deal is sweet. I hope the orders don’t get confused. smile And now I’m going to sit back and listen to this interview with Yakov, who I remember fondly from the 80s. Thanks Marc.

Christopher December 13, 2013 at 6:27 pm


What a great story and episode! And man, that laugh is epic.

Justin December 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm


Maybe Marc doesn’t need any maudlin comments but I was at one of the lowest points in my life last night (it was bad.. really bad) and it ended with this episode and Jacov.. i mean it seriously got me through the night.  I’ve seen his Branson show (official VHS copy) and yes it is flag-waving patriotic etc…....but this episode explains why Yacov has every right and reason to wave 100 US flags and go over-the-top. It’s real. Much respect to the man - and thanks Marc for another instant classic WTF

Boris December 14, 2013 at 4:50 pm


Enjoyable interview,but did Marc forget about Yasha Smirnoff’s syndicated hit tv show in the 1980’s-What a Country?  I would have liked a question or two about the behind-the-scenes of that show.Like what was it like working with Don Knotts.Here in NY,it aired every Saturday afternoon on channel 11 and was great fun.Wish it was released on DVD so Yasha could make some shekels!

rb December 15, 2013 at 10:20 am


Marc, just want to let you know that some listeners sometimes only have a chance to catch your intros, and rarely would fast forward to the main interview.

Dee December 15, 2013 at 8:15 pm


Echoing the above comments - loved this episode. Yakov offered a fresh perspective and it was a great listen. Cheers.

MWP December 16, 2013 at 10:42 am


Liked being reminded of Grossingers, as I spent time there in the 70’s, as a youthful guest. Yakov is an interesting person, and a survivor. Good show.

Mike December 26, 2013 at 5:32 am


Great interview with Yakov. Many things I didn’t know about his life and career.

Liam December 27, 2013 at 4:40 pm


Marc your cynical “uh ha”‘s are the only thing that make the last 10 minutes of this listenable.

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