Yakov Naumovich Pokhis, better known as Yakov Smirnoff (/ˈsmɪərnɒf/), is a Soviet-born American comedian, actor and writer. After immigrating to the United States in 1977, Smirnoff began performing as a stand-up comic. He reached his biggest success in the mid-to-late 1980s, appearing in several films and the television sitcom vehicle What a Country!. 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 Communism and of consumerism in the United States, as well as word play caused by misunderstanding of American phrases and culture, all punctuated by the catchphrase, "And I thought, 'What a country!'"