Age of Enlaughterment
Yakov Smirnoff and his interactive workshop
October 05, 2006
Remember Yakov Smirnoff? He was a popular comedian in the 1980's who appeared in many episodes of Night Court and several films including Heartburn, The Money Pit and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai.
These days—when the divorce rate is a whopping 57 percent and most likely doomed to increase to 67 percent for couples married after 1990—he's taken to teaching a "Living Happily Ever Laughter" interactive workshop, about "how to attract the right person, use laughter as an aphrodisiac" and utilize "hands-on dating techniques."
Of course I went.
In front of a full classroom of about 50 "young professionals" at Studio Maui last Saturday, Smirnoff talked of how he shared a bedroom with his parents in Soviet Russia until he was 26.
"If I could be funny," Smirnoff said, "everything was okay."
When he came to America, he started bartending. This brought on many archetypal Smirnoff jokes.
"This lady came in and said, 'I quit smoking cold turkey!' And I said, 'What do you smoke now? Ham?!'"
Another lady came in—she was really good-looking—and made him an offer for a one-night stand.
"For that price, I could get a whole dining room set! I know, I watch the Price is Right!"
Smirnoff then passed out questionnaires: "In an ideal relationship, when driving to an unfamiliar place, you would rather… a) You drive, with him supporting your effort; b) He drives, with you supporting his effort; c) You drive each other crazy with no effort at all."
He asked the class what we think is funny, or as he put it, "creates laughter."
"The truth!" a cute, young girl said. "You know, like the news."
"Something very thrilling, like tubing!" said an earthy guy on the other side of the room.
Smirnoff has been doing comedy for 40 years, and still does 200 stand-up shows a year. He says there are trade secrets to what really creates laughter on an energetic level.
Using a marker, he then made a connection on an illustration between the hearts and minds of two people facing each other, pointing out that the intersecting space is where laughter exists. He instructed us to role-play various scenarios.
This was less funny. No surprise the class insisted on another joke.
So this guy goes on a business trip—a convention—and he gets a hooker from the concierge. The hooker tells him, "It's $300 for a hand job." When the guy scoffs at the price, the hooker shows him the Rolls Royce parked downstairs and says, "See? I'm so good at it, I bought that." The deed is done, the guy is impressed and wants more. "It's $2,000 for a blow job," says the hooker, and the guy again scoffs until the hooker points to a large mansion on a hill. "See that house? I'm so good, that's mine." And once again, the deed is done, the guy is pleased and wants more.
At this point, Smirnoff paused.
"So the guy asks, 'How much for the… uh… uh…"
"Blissful union!" somebody helpfully blurted out.
Smirnoff smiled in agreement and continued. And the hooker says, "It's $5,000." The guy is incredulous. The hooker again points out the window. "You see that yacht club? If I had a pussy, I would have that!"
And then, thankfully, we took a break. MTW
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