Jeff Dunham is a popular comedian and ventriloquist. He often proves himself capable with traditional stand up schtick, but he knows that people watch him for the puppets.He's made appearances on numerous TV shows, as well as being featured on Comedy Central Presents.He's had five specials on Comedy Central so far:
...and briefly had his own show on the channel, called The Jeff Dunham ShowHe has a cast of puppets, some of which have fleshed out back stories and diverse personalities who provide their own unique interaction with Jeff. Usually he is the Only Sane Man trying to provide some sense of control as the characters go off on random topics. He has also published a biography, entitled All By My Selves. He is also one of the featured ventriloquists of the documentary I'm No Dummy, along with Jay Johnson (of Soap fame) and Lynn Trefzger.His cast includes:
Peanut — a Woozle, which is a hyperactivefurry animal... hybrid... thing. He has purple skin, white fur, green hair, big feet and wears only his left shoe. He is apparently from an island in Micronesia and stowed away on a cruise ship, where he met Dunham in Florida.
Bubba J. — NASCAR lovin', beer swilling redneck. Wholeheartedly embodies every trope associated with being a back woods country redneck.
Melvin the Superhero Guy — A goofy superhero wannabe with an extremely big nose (which looks like a penis when viewed sideways). Has no actual powers to speak of, but he is really enthusiastic about it. Officially retired as of Minding the Monsters.
Sweet Daddy D. — A "Player In the Management Profession" and Jeff's "agent." According to Sweet Daddy, since he's the pimp, that makes Jeff his ho. Officially retired as of Minding the Monsters.
He has one new character he uses on tours but haven't been filmed are Dianne from Dinner for Schmucks, who has since been retired. He recently unveiled AJ, or Achmed Junior, in his latest special, as well as Little Ugly Ass-Jeff (Peanut's ventriloquism puppet)... It Makes Sense in Context (barely).note Little Ugly-Ass Jeff is actually a Call Back to early in his career (which includes his ''The Tonight Show appearance) when he did the same bit with a more generic mini-puppet, with Peanut 'manning' the puppet both times.
Dunham and his act provide examples of:
Aerith and Bob: His four most popular characters are named José, Achmed, Peanut and Walter. Granted, if your first language is Spanish or Arabic then José or Achmed respectively become "Bob". Peanut, however....
As far as Peanut is concerned, Jeff and Guitar Guy.
Peanut: Which one of you is the girl, the one with the guitar, or the one who has the dolls?
AJ, Achmed's son.
Achmed in spades during his segment in Minding the Monsters. It could be just him trying his hardest to stay in character (he's dressed as an American woman, the "scariest thing he can think of") but he spills into this when he talksto Jeff.
Asian Speekee Engrish: In the "Taste of China restaurant/angry Asian fan" routine, Peanut lays this on thick, which really gets under Jeff's skin.
During one of his televised events, an audience member named Mike gets up and walks out (to use the bathroom) in the middle of the show. The audience ragging on him was a given, but Jeff and Walter — especially Walter — really let him have it. Dunham revealed in his autobiography that because of the bright stage lights, all he could see was that someone was getting up and decided to riff on it; but upon talking to the man's wife, he realized the guy was actually a neighbor and friend who was seated near Jeff's own wife, and decided to really riff on him from that point.
Walter: Welcome back, dumbass!
In one blooper, Peanut's hair falls off during the show. Ignoring the reaction of Peanut ("I look like that guy", pointing to a bald audience member), Peanut (Jeff in tow) then goes down and hugs said audience member... then offers to sell him his hair.
In yet another blooper, Jeff accidentally lets go of Walter enough that his hands fall down from their normal crossed arm position. Since this is going on one of his DVDs, he shouts out "Edit" to mark it and then Walter just goes Off the Rails. During all this, Jeff forgets where he was in his act, and someone in the audience tries to help. Mistake!
Walter: Excuse me, do the tickets say Jeff, his Friends, and the drunken asshole in the back? Me thinks not! Shut the hell up! Bastard! Three hundred million sperm, that's the one that got through!?
...and then Jeff honestly forgets where he is in the act, and they have to ask the guy to help again.
In several shows, the audience has helped Jeff deliver lines for Bubba J, occasionally delivering the entire routine.
Bubba J: Is it bad when your audience know your act better than you? Bubba J: This is like a weird version of church!
In a recent show starting his new material, someone in the front row walked up to go to the bathroom and Walter let her have it, asking what her job was. (Administrator for a locating firm) Then throughout the show, he worked it into the routine.
At his show in Lansing in 2008, most of the entire front row was bought out by one big party. When they came in 30 minutes late, interrupting the entire show, Jeff asked if they brought him dinner, demanded that they buy t-shirts, and spent several minutes making fun of them. That last one probably wouldn't have happened if they hadn't have walked in on Walter.
Big Screwed-Up Family: Implied in the background. Peanut often is telling stories of adventures he and Jose Jalapeño have shared in the background — Walter and Achmed (and anyone else who would add to the story) are mentioned as if they are along, too.
Blatant Lies: During the Spark of Insanity special, Jeff does a bit of traditional stand-up, and talks about his life and his daughters.
Bus Crash: Sweet Daddy D in Minding the Monsters, whose tombstone is seen in a Freeze-Frame Bonus in the intro, and confirmed to be retired (alongside Melvin, Dianne, and Morty, his original puppet) in the 'Minding the Miniatures' Extra in the DVD.
Achmed: "SILENCE! I keel you!", "Good evening, infidels!", "I'll kill you 'til you're dead. (And that's worse.)" and "Over there, over there, and up there."
Melvin: "Duh duh-duh-daaaaaah!"
Bubba J.: "Watchin' NASCAR and drinkin' beers!"
Walter: "...dumbass.", "Shut the hell up!", "I don't give a damn", and "Ehhuhuhuuuhhuh!" (mocking the audience laughing)
Peanut: "It's goodidy, it's good, it's goooooooood!!", "Jeff-fa-fa... Dun-HAM... Dot com!", "What the hell was that?!", "You go purple, you never go back!", his rather insane laugh, quickly swiping his hand through his hair with a "Neeee-yow!" (signaling that something's gone over someone's head), "Looklooklooklooklook!" (when Jeff brings out José), and "Taco Bell!" (referring to Peanut taking José someplace he doesn't like, usually someplace that serves Mexican food).
José: Adding "on a steek" to random things, plus his Your Mom jokes.
Sweet Daddy D: "That's funny shit right there!", "Ha-HAAAAAA!" and him sucking his teeth. It's that "tch" noise that's kind of hard to describe without actually hearing it.
That's him blowing kisses to the audience.
Jeff: "Will you (stop)!"
One used by most of the puppets: "Think about iiiiiit..."
Cluster F-Bomb: There's a lot more profanity in live shows than on the specials, unless you actually get the DVDs and watch the unedited versions (TV airings of the specials will usually cut off any extreme swearing with a beep sound). Peanut and Walter in particular curse frequently.
Peanut:(to Guitar Guy) He thinks this is all real... We're making a shitload of money off of this, don't fuck it up!
Corpsing: One bit where Achmed tells the audience how his life (that is, the "life" he has after dying) pretty much sucked. He went to the doctor one day because he thought he had scoliosis, so the doctor recommends an X-ray, which is completely pointless because Achmed is a skeleton. This causes a bit of corpsing (you can definitely hear the strain in Jeff's voice as he tries to do Achmed's voice without laughing). Achmed's story then goes on to say that he thinks he has polio too, and the strain of trying to keep a straight face catches up to Jeff, causing him to ask Achmed about "poliosis", causing Guitar Guy to just give up the act and start laughing, and Jeff tries his darnedest to hide his laughing, covering his mouth with his hand and shouting "Don't look at me!"
Say, did you know that when an Asian guy says "Taste of China", it sounds like Taste a vagina? Did you also know that he also says the same thing about fish? And did you know that he says "Fork" so that it sounds like fuck? And did you know that apparently, Peanut needs to repeat it at least twelve times for you to get it?
And did you also know that Achmed the Dead Terrorist thinks that the Guitar Guy is gay? Well he spent the last 20 minutes calling him gay, so how can you not know that?
Didn't Think This Through: In A Very Special Christmas Special, Achmed slams Jeff for giving him phlegm without an esophagus with this exact line.
Achmed: I had a premature detonation. I set the timer for thirty minutes, but it went off in four seconds. [to Jeff] Yeah you know what that's like — right, Mister Hurricane?''
A knock-knock joke by Achmed is told in two separate specials.
In Spark of Insanity:
Achmed: Knock, knock.
Jeff: Who's there?
Achmed: Me. I keel you.
This is repeated in Controlled Chaos:
Achmed: Knock, knock. Jeff: Who's there? Achmed: Me. I keel you again! You are such an idiot! You keep answering the door! Where I'm from, the game we teach our children is when someone says "Knock, knock", you shut the fuck up and hide.
Walter: I think my house is haunted. Jeff: Why? Walter: My wife is there! I go in and all I hear is GET OUT...
Girl on Girl Is Hot / Yuri Fan: Walter starts off the "Walter's Relationship Advice for Lesbians" sketch on an episode of the TV show by staring at the two girls for several seconds before whispering "This is awesome..."
Grumpy Old Man: Walter. Part of the reason this is so funny is because everyone knows somebody like him.
Happily Adopted: Jeff says in All By My Selves that he was an adopted child, but that he always knew he had been, never had a problem with it, and that his parents are great.
This leads to a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming when his first (biological) daughter was born (Dunham himself having adopted his wife's daughter from a prior relationship) and he realizes that she is the first blood relative he ever knew.
Jeff's ex-wife, who decided to breed their pet chihuahua, producing Rusty, the runt of the litter who Jeff claims will urinate on his wife in the middle of the night whenever the two have an unresolved argument.
Achmed could be considered a victim of this too, as his incompetent suicide bombing attempt resulted in him being the only one killed.
Hypocritical Humor: During the Christmas Special, Achmed asks Guitar Guy to play some inspirational music for Achmed's Christmas song. As a joke, he plays a Middle Eastern-sounding tune on his guitar. Achmed scolds him with, "You racist bastard."...and then follows this with, "IhateIrish music!"
Walter's reaction to Jeff's argument diffusion method by thinking of something different:
Walter: Like what? Jeff: ...um, "If you choke a Smurf, what color does it turn?" (Walter's eyebrows raise slowly) Walter: ..."choke a Smurf"? Jeff: Yes. Walter: Is that what they're calling it now?
During the Christmas Special:
Walter: "Bag of jollies"? Is that what they're calling it now?
It Is Pronounced Tro PAY: Peanut likes to point out how the actual pronunciation various names should be, like Je-Fuh-Fuh Dun-Ham (dot-com!) and Joe-zee. During Arguing With Myself, Peanut constantly pronounced the city of Santa Ana as "Sa N'Ta Ah Na".
Peanut: [reads Jeff's note more carefully] Look, I know I didn't finish school, but that frickin' says Sa N'Ta Ah Na. Dumbass.
Peanut. Most of his routine consists of mean-spirited jokes, belittling and antagonizing Jeff, and tormenting José.
Walter is a grouchy old guy who insults everyone.
Jeff himself is very defensive about his act, and can get rude when others cut in, whether it be audience members or Guitar Guy. He'll usually make up for it, though. This could be part of his stage persona though.
Keet: When Peanut isn't being rude, he's a hyper spazz.
Peanut: What the hell is wrong with you? We cannot talk at the same time! I talk, you talk, I talk, you talk, that's it!Focus!
In another bit:
(Peanut and José are conversing in Spanish) Jeff: Peanut, what are you doing? Peanut: I'm speaking to José in his native tongue. Jeff: Well don't do that. Peanut: Why not? Jeff: It makes me feel... left out... (beat) Peanut: Huh? Jeff: Well I don't speak Spanish. (Peanut and José both turn to look at Jeff in confusion) José: [hums the Twilight Zone theme] Peanut: [imitating Rod Serling] Picture if you will...
Perhaps the most shocking one for Peanut.
Peanut: Dude? Where is your other hand? (Peanut looks down between his legs and realises where it is)
This is later followed up by discovering the stick that moves his arm and violently moving it with his mouth.
Jeff mentioned that when he was younger, he and his parents could not afford to get professional photos of him with a dummy to help promote his ventriloquist act. However, in grade 7, he realized that he could get comparatively inexpensive, professional-quality photographs via yearly school pictures, so he simply brought one of his dummies and put it on his lap for picture day.
In Minding the Monsters, Peanut and Jose steer the conversation to allude to the details of Jeff's divorce and alimony. Jeff says that legally he cannot discuss them, but Peanut and Jose are good to go.
Medium Awareness/Meta Guy: Peanut seems to be the only puppet who is consistently aware of his "true" relationship with Jeff, and even comments on the various portions of Jeff's mind that his puppets must represent. Peanut is disturbed by the implication that Jeff could create something as odd as Peanut.
Peanut: The sad part is that I actually am pissing him off. And he would like to kill me! But he will not because that would be a form of suicide!
Peanut: When you're laughing and having a good time, that's ME. When you're tired and fed up and thinking "Why did I marry this broad?!", that's Walter. When you really feel like you wanna kill her, that's Achmed. Jeff: Well, what's José Jalapeño On A Stick? Peanut: You're a sick man.
He even tears into Guitar Guy over it, too:
Peanut: Do you know how else I know you're on drugs? You're looking me in the eye. And you honestly think I'm looking back.
Peanut eventually took up ventriloquism himself, resulting in meta-puppetry.
Multiple Choice Past: José Jalapeño On A Stick. The only consistent part of it is that he's not Mexican.
In "Arguing With Myself", for example:
José: I am Cuban. I'm from Florida.
Earlier, in an episode of Comedy Central Presents, which featured Jeff as a guest star:
Jeff: Peanut, what is wrong with you? Peanut: Nyquil and Red Bull!!
No Fourth Wall: The dolls frequently mention the fact that they're just dolls. Peanut in particular — somewhat ironically given his over-the-top, hyperactive personality — is completely aware of the nature of the act and often compliments or harangues Jeff on the quality of his ventriloquism.
Peanut: I will never blink! Peanut again: What's your name, sir? What. is. your. name??...I'm fuckin' looking right at ya! (to Jeff) ...Aren't I?
This happened so much in 'Controlled Chaos' that Marnell duct taped his legs to the table, partly to fix the problem and partly because Achmed was verbally abusive to him.
During a live performance in South Dakota that took place outside, Jeff's skit with Achmed kept getting interrupted by planes flying overhead causing Jeff to forget the skit and Achmed to grow increasingly annoyed by the planes, whom Achmed mistakes for bombers arriving too early.
Achmed: Not yet, dumbasses!
Only a Flesh Wound: This comes up when Achmed explains that he has finished his job but insists that he feels fine and is not dead:
Jeff: But you're all bone! Achmed: It's a flesh wound.
Only Sane Man: Jeff usually plays this to his puppets' antics. It's especially hilarious when Peanut or Walter start abusing audience members and Jeff tells them off for it.
Our Vampires Are Different: In "Minding the Monsters", Bubba J is dressed as a white-trash vampire, Count Beercula, for Halloween.
Bubba J: I've come to suck your beer!
Out of Focus: Melvin, Bubba J, and Sweet Daddy D aren't as popular as Achmed, Peanut, José, and Walter. As a result, they haven't really shown up as much in the more recent years when more people have been demanding the more popular acts. (One time, Bubba J actually told Jeff that the audience knew the jokes better than he did.)
He seems to do the bit with Bubba J regularly, but perhaps not every performance. Twice he's given live performances in South Carolina where, at the end, he brings out Bubba J, has the audience help him through the act, and lampshades it.
Don't know who that blonde puppet in the picture is? Well you're not alone.
And now, as of Minding the Monsters, all of the above examples for Out of Focus save for Bubba J have been retired.
Parking Payback: Walter talks about running down a non-disabled man who parked in a handicapped space.
I made an honest man out of him. Then his mom got out of the car, swinging her crutches at me. Took her out with the door.
Political Correctness Gone Mad / Even Evil Has Standards: Achmed fills both in the Christmas Special, when he is wearing a "holiday hat". He calls it that so as not to offend "the other infidels". When Jeff points out that he is a terrorist, Achmed replies: "That's different. Killing people is easy. Being politically correct is a pain in the ass!"
Politically Incorrect Hero: Most of the characters have this as part of their "shticks", but Walter (irascible sarcasm about everything), Achmed (terrorism and religion), and Peanut (the bulk of the racial/ethnic jokes) really take the cake.
Prop Recycling: Jeff tells the story of how he had Achmed's head cast in All By Myselves by a Hollywood special effects artist. When Jeff went to pick it up the artist mentioned that he would need big eyes to fill the sockets and handed a pair he had lying around to Jeff. Jeff couldn't put his finger on where they were from. The Artist said he had them lying around since he finished work on Mars Attacks! It's true - go on and take a look at Achmed in the page photo, we'll wait. You'll never see him quite the same way again.
Jeff: Well can you see through anything useful, like clothing? Melvin: That's sick! (beat) [whispering] YES. Melvin: I like to look at boobies.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: Subverted with Achmed. While he does have bloodshot eyes with red irises, he's far from dangerous (though he'd have you believe otherwise).
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Practically anyone could be the blue to Peanut's red, but Jeff and José Jalapeño stand out the most.
Refuge in Audacity: All the characters have this as part of their schtick, but Achmed takes this trope up to eleven - playing one of the most horrible things around for laughs.
Repetitive Name: Jeff asks Bubba J. what the "J" stands for, and is told it is "Junior", prompting this exchange:
Jeff: It's a good thing they didn't name you Junior. Bubba J.: Yeah, that'd be dumb. Junior Junior. That's my brother's name.
Running Gag: "Guitar Guy"'s supposed drug use, Jeff's blue Prius, The Lotion, the tendency to pronounce Jeff's last name as "Dun-HAM", calling Jeff's puppets "dolls" (meaning that Jeff plays with dolls), and the puppets telling Jeff to "Think about it...!"
Achmed's leg falling off the side of the stand, requiring Jeff or a stagehand to put it back in place.
Jeff being struck dumb after one of the puppets says something incredibly offensive.
Sarcasm Failure: Peanut's reaction when Jeff reveals he can't speak Spanish when Peanut and Jose were just doing so.
Walter: Welcome to Wal-Mart. Get your shit and get out! (pause) Have a nice day!
Show Within a Show: A variant. In Jeff's old performances and his newest special, Peanut would perform his own little bits of ventriloquism. This resulted in a few early instances of Ugly-Ass Jeff. The character returned in Controlled Chaos. In early skits, Little Ugly-Ass Jeff, Jeff, Peanut, and José would banter back and forth, and at one point during some of his shows, Jeff would get out a bottle of tequila—complete with a talking worm...and a basement, somehow—and would drink while Peanut commentated on it.
In Controlled Chaos, Peanut decides to bring back his old ventriloquist dummy Little Ugly-Ass Jeff, who just so happens to look a lot like Jeff, hence the name. He then does a little skit basically portraying Little Jeff as an extreme example of This Loser Is You. Jeff retaliates by putting a hand puppet on his other hand which happens to look a lot like Peanut, portraying him as a hyperactive idiot. And they all argue with one another. Rapid-Fire Comedy, indeed!
Sophisticated as Hell: In Controlled Chaos, Walter thinks that Obama might be half-Irish and half-African-American, and considers what he might say if he ever met him (resulting in this trope):
Walter: Hey! Top of the morning to you there, dawg! How's your healthcare hanging, yo, yo? Hey, that last election was a BIOTCH!!!!
Straight Man: Jeff is more or less this to his various puppets.
Stop Helping Me!: invoked In Spark of Insanity, Achmed had this reaction when Jeff was trying to straighten Achmed's hips and legs (his legs had fallen off the table and his hips were backwards).
Achmed: (glaring up at Jeff) Stop touching me!!!
Take That Me: In Controlled Chaos, he shows pictures of himself as a kid, including school pictures. Numerous times, he wonders why the hell he did that and why his parents let him do it. He also points out that he wore some really ridiculous clothes in the 70s.
I must've walked into the clothing store and said, "Excuse me, but do you have any pants that don't even go with themselves?"
Throw It In: Happens about once a special. Usually it's Achmed's bony legs getting tangled, but once, Melvin's hair fell off. To Jeff's credit, he rolls with it pretty well.
Most of the specials were worked versions of things that went awry during tours. In the making-of video for Spark of Insanity, we see that Melvin's hair was designed to come off.
During Controlled Chaos, Jeff bent Achmed over far enough to get his ribcage caught in his pelvis. Cue a few minutes of awkward what-the-hell-do-I-do-nows from both of them, Jeff trying to get Achmed unstuck, and eventually just taking his ribs completely off.
Title Drop: The aforementioned "arguing with yourself" line.
Toilet Humor: In Controlled Chaos, Walter explains that in the poorest parts of Africa, the houses are all built out of poo and spends a long time making fun of it.
Walter: What is this, a caca casa? Some kind of crap cottage? No, it's a poo palace! It's a doodoo dwelling! It's a fart fort, I tell ya! And she lives in a shit shack!