(by Dianne R. Davis)
Do these names have anything in common? Walter, Peanut, José Jalapeño on a Stick, Bubba J, Sweet Daddy Dee, Melvin the Superhero Guy, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, Diane, and Achmed Junior? If you recognize them, then you are most likely a fan of the brilliant comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham.
Dunham has been called “America’s favorite comedian” by Slate.com, and his success knows no boundaries. In addition to having numerous specials on Comedy Central, he’s been on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show, and the LA Times recently credited Jeff Dunham with “reviving ventriloquism” and “bringing it back into the entertainment mainstream.”
Dunham travels the country with his “characters”, filling huge rooms with the laughter generated by the sometimes outrageous (and some might claim controversial), comments from the mouths of these fictional beings. We checked in with Dunham recently, as he prepares to perform in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace on Saturday May 7 at 8:00 p.m.
Here’s our conversation:
Some might claim your characters are “racist”, “sexist”, and/or “homophobic” caricatures. How do you respond to that?
In my show I try and make fun of myself more than anyone, and I believe that we should all be able to laugh at ourselves.
I [also] heard a great comic say once that if you’re aren’t offending a couple of people here and there, you’re not pushing the envelope enough. I know there’s a fine line, but I feel that most folks have a good sense of humor and can take a joke. I’m always very suspicious when folks are “offended”, because more often than not, the “offended” are offended for someone else, and aren’t any part of the group being picked on.
Do you favor any of your characters?
I’m a bit of a chameleon when it comes to having a favorite. Whatever [character] the particular audience of the night is enjoying the most, I’m having a ball right along with them. It goes without saying, however, that Achmed certainly has allowed me to break through in places that otherwise might have remained closed for a while. His clip on YouTube put whatever ride it is that the characters and I are on into a very high orbit. The recent shows in Europe are certainly a testament to that. Folks in London, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, and Oslo were NUTS for the characters, especially Achmed. So is he’s my favorite. Don’t tell Peanut it would hurt his feelings.
Are any of your characters modeled or inspired by actual people?
Oh sure. Walter was my friend’s father. That’s where I got the name as well.
What advice would you give a young person who wants to be a ventriloquist or comedian, or my gosh, both?!
Practice whenever you can, wherever you can!
Do you have a favorite charity that you support?
We contribute to homeless shelters and food banks across the country.
Thanks for answering our questions Jeff!
For Tickets to see Jeff at Caesars Palace, click here…
Or return to our homeage!
(Pic of Jeff Dunham via thewolfonline
More interviews and news on Jeff Dunham around the web:
Jeff Dunham on Comedy Central, Jeff Dunham IMDB, Jeff Dunham on Ticketmaster, LVRevJournal, Jeff Dunham on TalkingComedy.com, Jeff Dunham on HitRockBottom.com, MLive.com, Jeff Dunham at Atlantic Journal Constitution,
More Videos of Jeff Dunham around the web:
Comedians.Jokes.com, Youtube-1, Youtube-2, Youtube-3, Youtube-4 Achmed!, Youtube-5, Walter on Youtube, Jeff Dunham on Laughspin.com, Now, these have nothing to do with Jeff Dunham, but you have to love the names! DunhamSports.com, Dunhamfits.com