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Laughing with Russian Comedian Yakov Smirnoff in His Branson, Missouri Theater

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Headshot of comedian Yakov Smirnoff

Headshot of comedian Yakov Smirnoff

Laughter is Good Medicine!

Whether you have ever been to the Grand Palace (Yakov Smirnoff's Theater) in Branson, Missouri or not, you will enjoy this Russian born comedian's unique form of comedy. It has his patrons hilariously laughing as he accentuates the differences between his home country of Russia and the residence of his choice, the United States of America.

Yakov is one American that we can all treasure as he helps us laugh our way through life. I think most everyone would agree that more laughter would be beneficial for all of us, no matter where we happen to reside.

“Everybody laughs the same in every language because laughter is a universal connection.”

— Yakov Smirnoff

The Grand Palace

My mother and I visited Branson, Missouri, in September of 1995 and chose his act as one of the productions that we wished to experience among many different choices. What a great way to start our day!

We attended the morning show, which includes a "Royal Russian Breakfast" that one can eat at one's seat right in the theater. It has some of Yakov's mother's recipes like Bobka and Pastry Romanoff, along with fruit and coffee.

The Grand Palace Theater is gorgeous! In the lobby are hundreds of American memorabilia items like old gas station pumps, jukeboxes, George Jone's white convertible car, Patsy Cline items, etc. It is like stepping back in time and viewing many things of interest from an earlier era.

Surrounding the stage are plush and comfortable red seats. Yes, red is the color of preference everywhere one looks. Even Yakov's license tag on his red Ferrari parked outside the theater has the saying "X-RED."

Every part of his act accentuates in a very comedic way the differences between living under the old communism and the freedoms he experiences today. His trademark saying is "What a Country!"

His two-hour show consists of some music, dancing, hilarious skits and most all of it is a tribute to the United States. My mother and I laughed so hard and often that our sides ached as we exited the theater at the end of the show.

Come along with me and learn things about Yakov Smirnoff that you may not have known. Enjoy the videos, and if you ever get a chance to see this comedian in person, I would heartily recommend your doing so.

Comedian Yakov Smirnoff

Yakov Smirnoff became an American citizen on July 4th,1986, and was sworn in by Chief Justice Warren Burger at the Statue of Liberty.

When Russia was under communist rule, creativity was severely stifled. The differences in freedoms between the country of his birth and his new country are the subject matter for his comedy routines.

Here are some things that you may not know about this talented man:

  • He is a university professor who specializes in teaching the value of laughter and how it impacts our lives. Yakov is a loving father of two children, a boy and a girl.
  • Yakov is also an accomplished artist. He has created paintings showing his daughter, son, and his tribute to the Statue of Liberty that he holds close to his heart. Also, his faith shines through his paintings and he has Jesus laughing as well as Einstein in a laughing pose.
  • Yakov Smirnoff created a large painting as a tribute after 9-11 that hung in New York on the outside of a building until it was starting to be damaged by the elements. It has been salvaged and now hangs in his theater.
  • He has been on television, in movies, has authored books and writes magazine articles.

To my real estate agent, Chernobyl is a fixer-upper.

— Yakov Smirnoff

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The ad in the paper said ‘Big Sale. Last Week.’ Why advertise? I already missed it. They’re just rubbing it in.

— Yakov Smirnoff


Writing this article has me smiling and remembering the laughter we enjoyed that day in his Grand Palace Theater in Branson, Missouri. However, things have changed!

In 2008, the Grand Palace closed. Some historical items, like the iconic 10,000-piece chandelier, a piano, and other things, were saved. What now takes its place is the Aquarium at the Boardwalk. It looks like it is a stellar attraction among many others that make Branson, Missouri, a destination vacation spot.


The New Venue

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2016:

Hi Robert,

We laughed so hard our sides ached. It was a great way to start the day. Yakov Smirnoff is quite the comedian!

Robert Sacchi on May 14, 2016:

Great article. I never realized Yakov Smirnoff as such a talented artist and doing so well. Good for him.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 10, 2014:

Hi Au fait,

When you get a chance to go I think that you would enjoy visiting Branson, Missouri. There are so many terrific acts and theaters in one place and the scenery is also pretty. It is certainly nice for the stars because they can have more of a home life instead of always being on the road. Thanks for the shares.

C E Clark from North Texas on January 03, 2014:

I love Yakov Smirnoff. Mentioned him in my article on Who Are the Homeless. I remember when he first started here in the states. I wondered what happened to him. Seems like all the celebs have disappeared and then I discover they're in Branson! Three of my sibs have been there, but I never have. Seems like it's a great place to spend some time.

Somehow missed this article before. Voting it up, interesting, awesome, gave you 5 more stars, pinned to my 'Travel' board, and sharing it with followers.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on January 30, 2012:

Hi Eddy,

My mother and I laughed so hard that we actually had tears streaming down our faces when we started out our day at the Yakov Smirnoff theatre in Branson. Great way to start any day! Thanks for your comment.

Eiddwen from Wales on January 30, 2012:

Hi peggy, I loved this hub and I also thought that Yakov Smirnoff is so funny.

Thank you so much for sharing him with us.

An up up and away without a doubt.

Take care and enjoy your day.


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 13, 2011:

Hi Billy,

Aha! Perhaps that is the difference! Yakov Smirnoff is a Russian (now turned American) comedian and was never a leader in his former country.

billyaustindillon on June 13, 2011:

I never knew Russians could be funny ..... their leaders always seem so serious.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 05, 2011:

Hi Dave,

I've never been to Nashville or the Grand Ole Opry, but my mother and I found Branson to be a very family friendly place and a fun place to visit. Very pretty countryside also with the rolling hills and lakes. As you say...good for fishing, shows...and don't forget shopping. All those discount places... :)))

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 04, 2011:

Hi Stephanie,

Nice to hear that you also enjoyed seeing Yakov Smirnoff performing in his Branson, Missouri theatre. We really enjoyed hearing and seeing him. Thanks for your comment.

Knightheart from MIssouri, USA on May 04, 2011:

Hi Peggy,

Branson, well you are getting closer to my hometown...I am NE of there about 4-5 hours or so! People compare Branson to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry sites. Though not nearly as huge, Branson is a nice place to visit, especially if you like fishing and shows!!

Stephanie Henkel from USA on May 04, 2011:

We saw Yakov Smirnoff a few years ago while visiting Branson — he is a very funny guy! Your hub brought back good memories of his show and how much we enjoyed it.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 02, 2010:

Hi Micky,

My mother and I were laughing so much our sides hurt when Russian comedian Yakov Smirnoff was going through his routine. He is a funny man! We really liked what we got to see of Branson, Missouri. Glad that you liked the videos of Yakov Smirnoff. Thanks for the comment and God bless you too, Micky.

Micky Dee on December 02, 2010:

Awesomely funny Peggy. I watched every video but I like comedy and I like Yakov Smirnoff. God bless Dear!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 11, 2009:

Hi shamelabboush, Yes, he is a smart, funny and accomplished man. Thanks for the comment.

And hello Teresa, Now you know... Isn't hubpages great? We learn so much from one another. Thanks for the comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 11, 2009:

Hi G-Ma,

Absolutely love Benny Hill. Here is a link for those who may be unfamiliar:

I missed knowing about Sam Kennison but now thanks to you here is a link:

This is turning into Comedy Central! HEE HEE and Hugs back to you.

Sheila from The Other Bangor on May 11, 2009:

Thanks --I had heard the name, but didn't know his history. Cool.

shamelabboush on May 11, 2009:

Never Known him before but his resume here is impressive.

Merle Ann Johnson from NW in the land of the Free on May 10, 2009:

lOVE HIM as well as  ..oh well my mind just went blank ( Sam Kennison) and Benny Hill...classics as far as I am concerned???HEE HEE   nicely done...Thanks G-Ma :O) Hugs

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 10, 2009:

Hey Pete, now that you mention it, you do look alike. Things could be a whole lot worse! Intelligence both have that going for you also. Better rest your hand. Soon you will be swamped for autographs. LOL

Thanks for the comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 10, 2009:

Hi Cris, Hey, you guys are making me look things up! I was unfamiliar with this group so thought other people may want to know who they are also...thus, the link. are doing well in the funny dept. and don't need help from others. LOL

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 10, 2009:

Hi GT, Here is a link for those unfamiliar with the Borat in your comments. I did not see the movie when it came out. Did you? Thanks for being the first to read and comment.

Pete Maida on May 10, 2009:

Yakov is a really funny guy. I've been told that I look like him so it is probably good that he has a sense of humor.

Cris A from Manila, Philippines on May 10, 2009:

I admire men who make people laugh however which way. It's a gift. can only dream of being funny and most of the time, it is only I who laught myself. Oh well... Anyway, have you heard of Gogol Bordello - they do some comedic acts, too. Thanks for sharing :D

goldentoad from Free and running.... on May 10, 2009:

I don't see this guy much anymore, but he is witty without a doubt. Now that I see this, I think maybe Borat stole some material from him.

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