Monday, July 03, 2006


What a Country

The always delightful Bull Moose opens a post on torture with, appropriately enough, ruminations on Yakov Smirnoff:
As we approach Independence Day, the Moose waxes rhapsodic about the wonder and glory that is America. He recalls the Russian-born comic Yakov Smirnoff who was hot back in the eighties. When he was confronted with another marvel of his new home, Smirnoff would declare, "What a Country!"

That was the response the Moose had to the Supreme Court's Hamdan decision.
It is indeed wacky that the Supreme Court declared that the president does not have the right to torture whoever he wants. What a gas.

Anyway, it makes sense that someone who fails to recognize just how grating his affected third-person schtick is would similarly fail to realize that Yakov Smirnoff didn't actually tell "jokes." As I recall it from endless 1980s talk show appearances, Smirnoff's act was comprised of simple declarative sentences that formally resembled jokes, but were in fact merely banal and indeed largely meaningless observations.

But maybe he got funnier, so I looked him up.

Hoo boy. Smirnoff now owns his own theater in Branson, Missouri. He informs us at his site that this municipality has twice voted him "comedian of the year." I do not doubt it. He puts on a regular show, which he describes here:
There ought to be a caution sign as you enter the Yakov Smirnoff Theatre in Branson, Missouri. It should read “Warning! Hold on to your seat ‘cause this guy is about to blow you away with dynamite comedy!” This ‘guy’ of course is Branson’s Two-Time Comedian of the Year, Yakov Smirnoff, the famous Russian Comedian. He delivers explosive laughter in a show filled with brilliant special effects, dazzling dancing, heartfelt moments, and just plain fun. Yakov’s entire show is packed with comedic tall tales and witty perceptions, funny facts and huge laughs.
You know, it's your own damn theater. If you think there ought to be a sign put up, then go ahead and put up the freaking sign. Gah.

Laughs keep on coming, though:
From the heartland of America, our funny philosopher takes us on a comedic journey and brings us unique insights into life, family, and these United States. As Yakov says, "Only In America can a Russian and a Japanese own a theater in the middle of the Ozarks!"
This is truly the sort of thing that can only happen in America, because that is where the Ozarks happen to be located. You have to give him that. Well-spotted.

As for the "philosopher" bit, we read that he "has just completed a new book, 'Smirnoff For The Soul', that shares this funny philosopher's life-changing stories from the heart." Noted without comment.

All this is of course kitsch. But I find something grotesque about all such warm, fuzzy patriotism, because it's an eruption of thoughtless emotion. One expression of this ideological tangle can be found in Branson, Missouri. Another can be located in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It's all part of the same long-running American clown show, booked solid for years, get comfortable because they've bricked up the exits.

I larve America!

Ein Soviet Union....
Ror's parents just sent us a postcard from, yes, that's right: Branson, MO. Even more specifically, from Yakov Smirnoff's theater, where they had been to a show - and they said it was "SO good!"

There is a slight cultural divide between Ror and his parents. Some might call it a gulf, in fact.
Gitmo! Only in, Cuba!

In Bush's America, you don't you don't have Constitutional rights; Constitutional rights have YOU!
Wasn't that a Simpson's episode? So You've Settled for Branson?
The Bullshit Moose is so ready for a parody blog.
We get lots of telemarketers trying to sell us trips to Branson. The last guy tried to tell us Branson had the "best shows this side of Vegas."
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