TEASER: An early lead in a presidential race that's no laughing matter STORY: The polls closed in the first round of Ukraine's presidential election Sunday with candidate Volodymyr Zelenski - a comedian who plays a fictional president in a TV show -- taking the early lead.
Early projections showed Zelenskiy secured over 30 percent of the votes compared to incumbent Petro Poroshenko's nearly 18 percent.
With neither candidate receiving 50%, the election heads to a run-off April 21st.
Funnyman Zelenskiy, who has no political experience, set humor aside on election day, and thanked voters for taking his candidacy seriously.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AND COMEDIAN, VOLODYMYR ZELENSKIY, SAYING: "People are above all more important than political activity and ambitions." President Poroshenko, despite trailing, hailed the early election as a victory for Europe; neither candidate wants to move Ukraine back into Russia's orbit.
At stake is the leadership of a country that is in the spotlight of the West's standoff with Russia, stoked by Cold War-like tensions after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.