Mikhail Zhvanetsky
"I am a sad person who makes people laugh"
     Mikhail Zhvanetsky is truly a darling of the nation. He writes and does readings of his comic short stories and monologues. In the Stagnating Seventies, his satirical works were performed by star comedians Arkady Raikin, Ilchenko and Kartsev and instantly became part and parcel of popular folklore, with innumerable phrases turning into favourite sayings and proverbs of the people. Long before Mikhail Gorbatchev's glasnost, Mikhail Zhvanetsky went on stage with his aphoristic sketches, full of hidden meaning and subtle but colorful allusions. On his 60th anniversary, another famous satirist writer wrote in his letter of congratulations: "The nation needs you, dear Mikhail, to add some photogenic "mocking wrinkles" to the serious eyes in its official face". 

     Mr. Zhvanetsky's gift of a satirist was honed in the streets of Odessa, the city in Ukraine that gave us a host of comedians and satire writers. Mr. Zhvanetsky dedicated to his "alma mater" a whole book appropriately titled My Odessa. For many years now he has been the true king of the satirical stage, and was recently made President of the Golden Duke, an International Comedy Film Festival in Odessa. Zhvanetsky is the Honorary Citizen of his home town now. 

     Dozens of cities in Russia and abroad have welcomed the "man with a portfolio" with standing ovations, be it Carnegie Hall in the New York City or numerous universities in the United States, Israel and other countries. In 1994 Mikhail Zhvanetsky was awarded the Order of the Friendship of People, one of the highest awards in the Russian Federation.

Russian PEN centre