Comedian Yakov Smirnoff urged against a proposed mask ordinance in Branson, Missouri, Tuesday, saying it would make the city more like his native Soviet Union.
“I’m hoping that you can make this an island of freedom and choice in the sea of hatred and fear,” Smirnoff told the city’s Board of Aldermen to “thunderous applause,” the Springfield News-Leader reported.
The city was debating an order that would require people to wear a face covering in public spaces (with some exceptions) as the state faces a surge of coronavirus cases. Missouri on Tuesday experienced its ninth daily high of cases this month. The CDC recommends the masks to help stop the spread of COVID-19, but misguided jokers like Smirnoff have hampered the country’s efforts to depoliticize the issue and make it simply a matter of public health.
Smirnoff, 69, said he was “fed up” with Chicago’s mask mandate when he visited recently, and asked Branson officials not to go down that road. “It becomes a police state,” Smirnoff said, per the News-Leader.
The comedian, who draws upon his youth in a communist country (which has been restored to Ukraine) for some of his act, added about Branson: “People come to this town and they say this is the way America used to be. I think this is the way America ought to be.”
The board didn’t buy his shtick. It approved the mask order by 4 to 1.
Maybe Smirnoff should take a cue from the likes of Stephen Colbert and Sean Hayes ― make people laugh while persuading them to do the right thing.
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