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....

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!