Sunday Fun Link, Unless You Know the Comedian in Question, In Which Case I Offer My Deepest Sympathies


Yesterday, as the family and I tootled around the city, the conversation turned to an evergreen topic: What's Yakov Smirnoff up to these days? I didn't have to wonder for long—in one of the comment threads below, I learned that he's … painting.

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  1. I gotta admit, Yakov’s multi-Jesi may need a bit of work since he looks all cranked out. And that last one of the Statue of Liberty is damn frightening with those laconic eyes and horse teeth.
    But…I also gotta admit that that I like his:
    Family First, Natasha, Serenity, and St. Basil. Very van Goghish, and he does have a cute family so why not?
    Of course Stevo Darkly said it best:

    That applies to both Jesus and and Smirnoff. I mean, he used to live in the Soviet Union. (Smirnoff, that is.) You can’t really fault him for maybe going a little overboard with his love for the USA.

    I mean, suppose you knew a guy who for years lived in an abusive relationship with a repulsive hag who beat him up, threw stuff at him, insulted him, slept around on him, and stole his money. Then he finally breaks up with her, and hooks up with this kinda cute, rather nice chick. You wouldn’t rag on him for loving his new girlfriend to death, would you?

    Damn straight, if I got out of that hell-hole and could now worship what I want, get paid by by work and intellegence and not by hierarchy, get to own my OWN property, can say whatever the hell I want, etc, etc, etc…I’d be laughing all the way to the bank (bad pun intended).

  2. Also, compared to his other country-men who yearn for the warm embrace of Stalin and think Putin is just fine and dandy, Yakov is head-and-shoulder above the rest.

  3. For a comedian, Yakov isn’t even much of a comedian. As a painter, he still isn’t much of a comedian. But I’m sure he paints circles around Judy Tenuta and Andrew Dice Clay

  4. Last I remember, the new world order caused Yakov to have a nervous breakdown, and left him lying on the floor in the fetal position moaning “I just want freedom to go away.”

    It’s true, I saw that on The Ben Stiller Show.

  5. Hi Gang.

    I just got out of the hospital.

    Did I miss anything important?

  6. Why is Yakov Smirnoff selling Leroy Neiman paintings of Andy Gibb?

  7. Did I miss anything important?

    Oh, the usual…

  8. I like “America’s Heart”, “Serenity”, and “St. Basil”. They’re reasonably priced, too.

    The person who really comes away from this looking bad is that Nathan Rabin character from the AV Club blog. Man, what a schmuck.

  9. Call me a cynical bastard, but I don’t buy it. I’m Russian, I know a lot of super-patriotic, America-loving Russian immigrants who would make the average American conservative look like Noam Chomsky, but I think Smirnoff is blatantly marketing himself to American sensibilities. This looks too calculated.

    I think he does the same thing with his comedy. I don’t remember it too well, but I think his jokes were the kind a comedian would make after carefully studying American humor and doing a paint-by-numbers (so to speak) recreation of it.

  10. I just got out of the hospital.

    With the assumption that this wasn’t some vague reference to some Cold War relic going into a coma just before the wall came down…

    Hope you’re okay joe, nothin’ serious I hope.

    …I mean, obviously it was serious enough to go to the hospital…you know what I mean.

    P.S. I was in myself a couple of months ago… I can almost laugh about it now…

  11. I can’t say as I can blame Yakov for his unabashed love for America, for reasons that have already been mentioned.

    His painting style isn’t revolutionary, but it is aesthetically pleasing, at least I think so.

    And his unabashed love of America somewhat resembles the unabashed love for freedom that a Russian immigrant friend of mine has.

  12. I just got out of the hospital.

    Joe, welcome back. I hope all is well for you. Let us know, eh?

  13. I think Smirnoff is blatantly marketing himself to American sensibilities.

    This is a lesson one learns very quickly in a place like Branson. There’s a nice living to be made by catering to those sensibilities. It’s interesting that a place like Branson supports two big “immigrant acts” so well.

    Cheesy art, to be sure, but it presumably sells. I say good for him.

  14. joe,
    What the hell were you doing in the hospital?
    Try harder in the future to stay away from that place.

  15. All,

    I got a nasty intestinal thing, that caused an infection, yadda yadda yadda, I end up with IVs, antibiotics, and people sticking things in my arms and ass for a couple days. You’ll be glad to know I only showed up for half a day’s worth of planning all last week.

    Anyway, I’m better now, going to lay around the house for a couple days and eat boring food. All is well.

  16. joe,
    While you were in there, do you recall a brain transplant from an art critic?
    Of course not.

  17. joe,
    I think you should get back to “work.” You have obviously hit the ground running here at least.

    Continuing on: Think the WOD is bad?
    It is the shoulders on which the War on Boid Joims (avian influenza) will stand.
    Finally, Dubya will launch the War on “yadda yadda.”
    That will, no kidding, be the “War to end all wars.”

  18. joe,
    A final word of advice:
    Not far from here I can get a can of WalMart sardines for 44 cents.
    Here’s my word: Never pay under 44 cents a can for sardines unless you seek a Colon/Alimentary Canal Blow.
    I speak from experience. The Little Woman is my witness. Amen.

  19. Now that we have covertly obtained the necessary DNA sample, we can create our mighty clone army of urban planners.

    Heh heh heh heh heh… Complete.

  20. I was in with an intestinal thingy too. …but before they knew it was intestinal, they shoved a plastic tube down my nose and into my stomach…

    I asked the nurses that were holding me down if they’d read the Schlesinger Report.

    …I’d have confessed to anything!

    I worked in a hospital for seven years. …I hate hospitals. After the first few days, I looked forward to every meal like it was Christmas. …and I was on a clear liquid diet! …Daytime television was enough to make me want to rethink my support for the First Amendment.

    So did they give you a colonoscopy? …Are you gonna post the results of the pathology report?

  21. Glad to hear all is well.

  22. “So did they give you a colonoscopy? …Are you gonna post the results of the pathology report?”

    You’re thinking they located his head up there, aren’t you, Tom?

  23. In Soviet Russia picture paints YOU!

  24. I’m suprised we got this far before hitting our first “in Soviet Russia ….”

  25. Joe, if you drank more Columbia Crest it would have killed the bugs. Sorry things went badly. Glad they didn’t stay that way.

  26. Be glad, joe. When I was a kid (in 4th grade, I think), I had an “intestinal thing” that ended up being 11 days in the hospital and me, who hates needles, actually buzzing the nurse for a narcotic. On the plus side, I can tell you that desensitization treatments work. I still don’t like needles (who does?) but I can fairly easily endure them.

    On the plus side, I get to wow every doc I go to by being able to rattle off “ideopathic peritonitis” casually. It also made me pathologically opposed to people who want to restrict medical research for animal rights or religious reasons.

    But even in the Seventies, they had anaerobic antibiotics. What a country! (whew, on topic at last)

  27. More on topic, I wonder if comedic badmouthing of Yakov has to do more with him being on the wrong side of the Soviet Union during the Reagan years. Plus he doesn’t suck as much as Bob Sagget’s Full House or America’s Lamest Home Videos.

    Also, on a personal note, I can tell you his joke about Russian women is dead on.

    In Russia, we have sayink. Women are like busses. Dat’s de whole sayink.

    Sure, they look nice until age 30, then it’s on with the babushka and about a hundred pounds. Shallow? Yes, but then again, intelectually I had to deal with way too much anti-semitism over there to think there was much to balance it.

  28. I wasn’t implying that Smirnoff doesn’t “love America”, I’m saying he’s expressing it in a way that doesn’t seem culturally Russian.

    Joe – social realism, as its name implies, was realistic and not abstract. The aim was to avoid 1) bourgeois experiments with “formalism” like impressionism and abstraction and 2) bourgeois preoccupations with “decadent” themes, as in surrealism and pop art. Social realism meant well-painted scenes of peasants working in the fields, historical scenes with a nationalist message, etc.

    Nowadays I think a lot of the social realist painters have turned their technical skills to non-propagandistic subject matter, so at least something good came out of that movement.

  29. Sure, they look nice until age 30, then it’s on with the babushka and about a hundred pounds.

    This phenomenon isn’t isolated to Russian women. …women from other countries have been known to bear children also, which, in turn, can and often does lead to weight gain. …It’s an international problem.

    …along with the idea that any given woman is only interesting to the extent that she’s attractive in the same way as twenty-somethings.

  30. Mark Borok,

    “social realism, as its name implies, was realistic and not abstract.”

    Actually, like a lot of Marxist terminology, the word “realism” is “Social Realism” doesn’t mean what it appears to mean. The art strives to be “realist” in its depiction of what is most real in the world – the eternal class struggle. If you look at a lot of SR art, the figures aren’t terribly realistic – some of them even look like comic characters.

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