The Ottumwa Courier

March 8, 2013

Smirnoff connects people through laughter

Famous Russian comedian brings Happily Ever Laughter Tour to Fairfield March 22

Courier Staff Writer

FAIRFIELD — As a child, comedian Yakov Smirnoff didn’t understand the depth of laughter. He knew when he heard laughter that it made him feel safe and accepted and loved.

Now, after many years of listening to people laugh, he’s truly understands how important comedy can be.

“I love making people laugh. It has a very spiritual property,” Smirnoff said in an interview with the Courier. “Laughter, in my opinion, is the shortest distance between two people. It’s a confirmation of connection. The more you see people laughing, the more you know that they’re connecting.”

Southern Iowa will have the opportunity to join in that connection when Smirnoff’s Happily Ever Laughter Tour comes to the Sondheim Center at 7:30 p.m. March 22.

In his new national tour, audience members will enjoy Yakov’s insightful and laughter-filled philosophy on life, love, family and country. In “Happily Ever Laughter,” Smirnoff takes his comedy to a new level to showcase laughter’s effects on relationships and the vision of a world where sadness and tears are replaced with love and laughter.

“It’s a laughing journal of life,” he explained. “At this stage in my life, I’m more introspective. (Comedy) is more of a passion. It very much helps people recognize how to create laughter in their own lives.”

The touring experience is a new one for Smirnoff. He has spent 20 years entertaining more than 4 million visitors to his theater in Branson, Mo.

“Branson was an unexpected stop for me, and it lasted 20 years,” he said. “It’s a unique opportunity for anyone in show business to stay in one place for very long. We’re gypsies by nature. But this was a laboratory for me to develop ways to create more laughter in the world.”

This will not be the first trip Smirnoff has made to Fairfield. He spent a week at a local retreat, and he is very excited to come back to the community.

“It was totally unexpected and really resonated with me,” he said of the retreat. “I believe that’s who I am as well. No one would expect Fairfield to be enlightened, and no one expects Yakov to be enlightened. That part of the show will be very interesting and will resonate with the community.”

He added that the show is the perfect date night event. In this day and age, he believes it’s more important than ever to connect and laugh.

“I watch people when they walk in to the show. They’re so disconnected because they’ve been busy all day,” he said. “But as the show progresses, they grow closer. They walk out holding hands and I know I’ve done my job.”

A mainstay in the entertainment scene since the late 1970’s, Smirnoff was a regular guest star on the award winning NBC sitcom, “Night Court.” He has been a popular guest of numerous national TV shows, including “The Tonight Show.”

He has also co-starred in movies with Robin Williams in “Moscow on the Hudson,” Tom Hanks in “The Money Pit,” Meryl Steep and Jack Nicholson in “Heartburn” and Richard Pryor in “Brewster’s Millions.” Smirnoff was also invited to perform at the White House for several presidents and honored guests.

Yakov Smirnoff is a special attraction to the 2012-13 Sondheim Artist Series. Tickets are $25 and available at the Fairfield Arts and Convention Center Ticket Office, by phone at 641-472-2787 and online at