For his eleventh particular, ventriloquist Jeff Dunham has returned not solely to Comedy Central but additionally to the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., the place Dunham filmed his second comedy particular 15 years in the past (Spark of Insanity) that rocketed him to world fame. Performing in D.C., you’ll be able to both lean into the political environment of the nation’s Beltway crowd or keep away from it utterly. Dunham selected to lean into it.
The Gist: Dunham ranks as the most well-liked comedy act on Comedy Central, with the Paramount-owned cable channel reporting the ventriloquist holds the eight most-watched specials of their historical past. Even his NBC primetime particular, Jeff Dunham’s Unhinged in Hollywood, ranks as Comedy Central’s hottest particular of 2015 due to subsequent airings there.
No marvel he willingly left the enormous Netflix behind after two releases in 2017 and 2019. Since his 2020 return to Comedy Central happened in an impromptu method, with the pandemic prompting him to carry out an impromptu set open air and socially distant, this new hour actually serves as Dunham’s correct homecoming to the community. He additionally carried out this season on FOX’s The Masked Singer as Pi-Rat to assist put it on the market.
Viewers and followers will see Dunham introduce a brand new character, repurpose two acquainted faves, and befitting any well-known comedians as we speak, just a few phrases on “cancel tradition.”
What Comedy Specials Will It Remind You Of?: It’s Jeff Dunham! He’s a well-known ventriloquist. Even for those who by some means don’t know Dunham, you’ve seen different ventriloquists on TV, even broadcast community TV since they’re at all times popping up on and typically profitable America’s Got Talent.
Memorable Jokes: Dunham’s oldest and longest companion, Walter, reveals up first, solely now the previous curmudgeon is impersonating President Joe Biden.
Then comes Bubba J, in a section with piano accompaniment referred to as “Drinkin’ and Thinkin’” which most carefully resembles a shallower Southern hick model of “Deep Thoughts.”
Dunham introduces “the brand new man,” Url (appears like Earl), a younger man who retains his telephone in his arms, thumbs twiddling or typing, earbuds at all times in, dwelling together with his mother and father and never planning on getting an precise job anytime quickly. When Dunham wonders how Url might maintain a way of life like that, Url strikes again, asking precisely what it’s Dunham does for a dwelling. Dunham: “What do you assume that is?” Url: “Your intervention.”
Last however not least, we’re handled to a different dose of each Peanut and José Jalapeño on a Stick. Except Peanut is now working as head of HR, right here to reprimand Dunham. Why? “Well, we’re pressured to inform jokes that might be taken as offensive, racist, homophobic, and even anti-purple.”
Our Take: So not solely has Dunham heard criticism of his act, however he’s additionally trying right here to each tackle it and head it off on the move, so everybody who loves his act can proceed to stay, chuckle and love him. Even on the outset, Dunham needs his followers to know he’s not apprehensive about getting cancelled, “no matter which means,” including: “Well, guess what? I don’t care.” All he cares about is whether or not you present up and chuckle or not. He’s enjoying to the individuals who pay him. Or preaching to his choir. If you’re not in it? If you’re offended? Dunham is blunt. “Look. If you inform a joke to 100, and two of these folks get offended, whose downside is that? Not the 98. It’s the 2 boneheads who don’t have a humorousness who’re attempting to their greatest to break it for the remainder of us.”
Now I’m no bonehead, as a result of I get what he’s doing, and I don’t declare to be offended myself or on behalf of another person. I do need to set his file straight.
There’s a long-running in style meme tackle the fowl app and elsewhere to the tune of “conservatives are getting higher at comedy and it’s making lefties nervous.” Despite Dunham telling me last week that he’s only making fun of who’s in power, his jokes reveal his personal sensibilities are unapologetically conservative or Republican when it comes to whom he’s concentrating on. He’s allowed to make his case, whether or not or not he needs to face by his phrases or move the buck to his dummies. When you do take a look at his decisions, it’s a sliding scale when it comes to who a few of these jokes are for, precisely.
Even if registered Democrats may not discover something humorous about Walter as Biden, they most likely nonetheless perceive what’s humorous in regards to the present president’s ageing and declining colleges (see: Reagan jokes within the Eighties). Going in on Hunter Biden, although, whereas avoiding the Trump youngsters, or joking about Nancy Pelosi’s seems to be, or suggesting “you don’t stay this lengthy being a former good friend of the Clintons,” all of these jokes land just for one facet of the partisan political aisle. When Jose suggests, “I got here right here on a bus from Martha’s Vineyard,” that line will get a giant chuckle within the room. At whose expense? Not the Republican governors of Florida or Texas behind that bait-and-switch, that’s for positive. If you’re going to be political, that’s effective, simply personal it. But if one more conservative boomer makes a participation trophy joke with out addressing the elephants within the room which can be conservatives waving their very own flags as participation trophies, so to talk, I imply, I simply. Sigh.
The trans jokes are one other matter. They don’t come off as hateful a lot as disrespectful or complicated. Why does Joes determine as a pickle? Because it’s a very low-hanging fruit?! Why does Url recommend it’s really easy for Dunham or anybody else to alter pronouns and stroll into a girl’s lavatory? It’s enjoying into worry, which is the place transphobia hangs out to dry.
Having Peanut function a surrogate critic as head of HR (although Dunham has to remind Peanut that the dummies ain’t human) is a begin, no less than recognizing he’s crossing strains and bears duty for that because the voice behind the typically offensive dummies.
Our Call: SKIP IT. At this level, it doesn’t actually matter what I say, although. As Dunham told Decider, a part of the rationale he left Netflix to return to Comedy Central was as a result of “you’re by no means going to see me on Netflix until you truly search for it your self.” On Comedy Central (and Paramount+ just a few months from now), Dunham’s viewers will at all times discover him.
Sean L. McCarthy works the comedy beat for his personal digital newspaper, The Comic’s Comic; earlier than that, for precise newspapers. Based in NYC however will journey anyplace for the news: Ice cream or information. He additionally tweets @thecomicscomic and podcasts half-hour episodes with comedians revealing origin tales: The Comic’s Comic Presents Last Things First.