The Soviet Union is not the only Eastern European institution to undergo a radical change in the past several years. Russian born comedian Yakov Smirnoff has also set a new agenda for the nineties. His humorous observations have evolved along with current events and his personal reflections on family life grow more rich and comical as his household increases in size.

The big transition in Yakov’s stage persona began with his one-hour Showtime special entitled, "Yakov Smirnoff from Moscow…Idaho." In his critically acclaimed program, Yakov made the change from the wide-eyed immigrant who didn’t understand the difference between perfume and toilet water, to a much more sophisticated, wide-eyed husband and father who doesn’t understand the difference between natural child birth and torture. Says Smirnoff, "I believe the audience knows when you are telling the truth, and the fact is, I have grown as an individual beyond my original naïve character. It was time for my stage show to do the same. Many people told me I was taking a big chance, that I wouldn’t be funny anymore without playing the newly landed immigrant. But I’ve been here for fifteen years and the reality is, the more I learn about American ways, the less I truly understand. In essence, I’m still doing what I always did. I’m sharing my attempts at becoming a real American with the audience."

The results of this risky change are hilarious. The Showtime special was nominated for a prestigious ACE Award, the cable industry’s top honor. It also pulled down some of the biggest rating numbers of any comedy special in Showtime’s history. Yakov’s ability to draw sellout crowds across the country is further testimony to his continuing popularity. Although he has shed some of his naiveté, he has kept the fresh, likable appreciation of America that audiences enjoy so much so much.

As the decade of the nineties promises to be a new era for the direction of worId events, it also holds the say for Yakov. With a crisp, new stage show firmly in place and exciting new projects in development, the accomplished comedian is poised to continue his love affair with America. In his own words, "I’ve been very fortunate here in the US. I have a great family and a wonderful home. I feel like I’m one of you now…almost.