Watching Jeff Dunham around Christmastime is a tradition in my house. Mom and I love him and his suitcase full of crazy puppets. I suppose Achmed’s rendition of “Jingle Bombs” is what made it a Christmas thing, but really…we’ll use any excuse to pull out one of the many Jeff Dunham DVDs we own and pop it in the DVD player.
I originally found him on YouTube and fell in love with the comedy, despite never really having any interest in ventriloquism acts before. I showed him to Mom, who has become just as head over heels as I have. We’ve got three of his DVDs now and have seen him live twice. Walter is her favorite, and Peanut is mine.
It always surprises me how popular Jeff is. Standup comedy is one thing, but standup comedy with dolls is quite another. But it just works. You actually forget that those silly puppets aren’t real and aren’t actually thinking for themselves. Jeff isn’t the best ventriloquist in the world – sometimes he makes mistakes or his lips will move – but he’s a great comedian. And that’s really all you need for an act like this – some funny material and some stand out characters.
None of the characters stand out more than Walter, Peanut/José, and Achmed. I could forget the others without too much trouble, though Bubba J can be fun once in a while. Walter’s crass jokes and inability to be happy make him, oddly enough, more loveable and more endearing. Peanut is just straight up crazy, and his bizarre behavior, funny noises, and off the wall personality make him an instant classic. Couple him with the laid back and dry humor of José Jalapeño on a Stick, and you’ve got comedy genius. The best thing Jeff ever did was kick Sweet Daddy D to the curb and replace him with Achmed the Dead Terrorist. He walks the line between hilarious and offensive, and yet you can’t help but laugh at his jokes. Whoever thought a skeleton wearing a turban that shouts “I KEEL YOU!” at the audience could be that funny?
Jeff Dunham, apparently.
Jeff’s humor has taken a slight nose dive in my opinion. I’ve got a few theories as to why, but that’s his business, so I won’t go there. He’s always been a good act for the whole family, with a show that encompasses humor for both children and adults. There’s always been jokes that probably shouldn’t be made in front of the kids, but it’s all in good fun. Lately I feel like his humor is a little more crude and a little more real, and not in a good way. But it doesn’t matter. He’s still funny, and I still love him and the gang. I’ll be supporting him until he decides to hang up the dolls.
And that’ll be a sad day for the comedy world.
Here’s one of my favorite Peanut moments for you guys. (I can’t pick just one, but this is improv at its best, which I always enjoy, so I went with this one.)
Do you like Jeff Dunham? Who’s your favorite character? Which is your favorite joke?