Yakov Naumovich Pokhis (Яков Наумович Похис; born 24 January 1951), better known as Yakov Smirnoff (Яков Смирнов; ˈsmɪərnɒf), is a Ukrainian-American comedian, actor and writer. He began his career as a stand-up comedian in the Soviet Union, then immigrated to the United States in 1977 in order to pursue an American show business career, not yet knowing any English.
He reached his biggest success in the mid-to-late 1980s, appearing in several films which include Moscow on the Hudson with Robin Williams, The Money Pit with Tom Hanks, Heartburn with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, and Brewster's Millions with Richard Pryor. He was a star of the television series What a Country! and was a recurring guest star on NBC's hit television series Night Court playing a part of Yakov Korolenko. His comic persona was of a naive immigrant from the Soviet Union who was perpetually confused and delighted by life in the United States. His humor combined a mockery of life under Communist states and of