Show Business: Let Me Tell You . . .

In a nation that has always adored social satire, Mikhail Zhvanetsky, 55, is the undisputed comic laureate of glasnost. Once forced to circulate tapes of his routines underground, today Zhvanetsky plays thousand-seat arenas, appears on national television and counts Politburo member Alexander Yakovlev among his fans. To give readers a flavor of his comedic style, TIME asked Zhvanetsky to write a monologue about his trip to the U.S. last year.

"What really gets to a Soviet in America is not the fancy clothes or mammoth cars. It's the supermarkets. You can go crazy at the start, the middle and the end....

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