Jeffrey Dunham (born April 18, 1962) is a popular comedian and ventriloquist. He often proves himself capable with the 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 seven specials on Comedy Central so far:
- Arguing With Myself
- Spark of Insanity
- Very Special Christmas Special
- Controlled Chaos
- Minding the Monsters (Halloween Special)
- All Over the Map
- Unhinged in Hollywood
- Relative Disaster (Netflix Special)
- Beside Himself (Netflix Special)
...and briefly had his own show on the channel, called The Jeff Dunham Show.
He 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:
- Walter — a Grumpy Old Man who says exactly what's on his mind whenever he damn well feels like it. He's been married for 47 years, fought in The Vietnam War, worked as a welder for over thirty years, and really loves complaining about his wife. One of Jeff's most popular puppets, mostly for the fact that everybody knows a Walter.
- Peanut — a Woozle, which is a hyperactive furry 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.
- José Jalapeño on a Stick — Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and pronounces "on a stick" as "onna Steek." A Deadpan Snarker who is one of the only characters who can handle Peanut; as a result, he's often paired up with Peanut for his bits.
- Achmed the Dead Terrorist — Lived his life as a suicide bomber and is now a skeleton with a turban, big bushy eyebrows, red eyes and a goatee. Grew up with Barack Obama (in Hawaii, people). He plots to kill everyone but can never seem to do anything to make it happen. Best known for his Catchphrase: "SILENCE! I KEEL YOU!"
- Bubba J. — A beer-bellied, lazy-eyed, bucktoothed redneck who loves NASCAR and swilling beer; he wholeheartedly embraces every Deep South trope you can think of.
- 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 due to limited potential.
- 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 mainly due to accusations of racism, though Dunham still brings him out in various cameo roles.
- Larry - a chain-smoking Nervous Wreck who has the thankless task of being advisor to President Donald Trump, a job that is both impossible and comes with George Jetson Job Security.
He has some character which he uses on tours but haven't been filmed. Dianne from Dinner for Schmucks has since been retired (she never appeared in a TV special, but did appear in the 2010 Identity Crisis tour). He unveiled AJ, or Achmed Junior, in his 2011 special Controlled Chaos, as well as Little Ugly Ass-Jeff (Peanut's ventriloquism puppet)... It Makes Sense in Context (barely).note
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....
- Walter does a bit featuring two Africans named Latumba and Chuck.
- Affably Evil: Achmed.
- All Men Are Perverts: All of Jeff's puppets are male, and they all fit this trope to varying degrees.
- Ambiguously Bi: As much lust as Achmed has for women, during his segment in Minding the Monsters, he comes off as Ambiguously Gay. 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 talks to Jeff.
- Ambiguously Gay:
- As far as Peanut is concerned, Jeff and Guitar Guy.Peanut: Seriously, which one of you's the girl? Let me guess: the one with the guitar, or the one who has the dolls?
- AJ, Achmed's son, much to Achmed's horror.
- As far as Peanut is concerned, Jeff and Guitar Guy.
- Arab Beoble Talk: Jeff had Achmed the Dead Terrorist try to teach him to pronounce his name. Amusingly, not even Achmed himself pronounces the voiceless pharyngeal fricative properly. This makes sense, given that he was made in China.note
- 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.Jeff: You know, we have folks of Asian descent here this evening.
Peanut: [Asian voice] Oh, so sorry.
Jeff: [yelling] WILL YOU STOP IT!!
- Audience Participation:
- 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 is 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!
- After this specific show, Jeff and these friends go out to have drinks. Jeff apparently drinks just enough to loosen himself up for the following show, which leads to the following:
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!?
- In one 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.
...and then Jeff honestly forgets where he is in the act, and they have to ask the guy to help again.
- In yet another blooper, Peanut's hair falls off during the show. Ignoring the reaction of Peanut ("Now I look like that guy", gesturing 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 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 another show, someone in the front row walks up to go to the bathroom and Walter lets her have it, asking what her job is. (Administrator for a locating firm) Then throughout the show, he works 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.
- When his shows aren't being recorded, he'll sometimes end his shows with a Q&A, usually featuring himself and Achmed.
- 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 is 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.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Implied in the background. Peanut often is telling stories of adventures he and José 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.
- Big "SHUT UP!": Two of the puppets frequently say this.Walter: Shut the hell up!Achmed: SILENCE! I KEEL YOU!
- Bilingual Bonus: While Jeff was banned from using Achmed in Malaysia, he was transformed into Jacques Merde, the dead French terrorist. Jacques Merde in English? Jack Shit.
- Blatant Lies: During the Spark of Insanity special, Jeff does a bit of traditional stand-up, and talks about his life and his daughters.Jeff: And, uh, Kenna, uh, seems to be, uh, I don't know, she's got some sort of real twisted sense of humor. We don't know where that came from.
- Body Horror: Achmed Junior. He's missing half his face and part of his ribcage is exposed.
- Brick Joke:
- Suicide Bomber Chicken, sort of. It Makes Sense in Context. Also, the hand lotion, the Hurricane, the Prius, and "Santa Ana is hell" bits.
- Peanut brings the lotion up in an entirely different special.
- Jeff's photos and his fashion sense.
- His family's chihuahuas.
- How Jeff would be somebody's bitch if he ever went to prison. "C'mere, puppet boy—make your daddy talk."
- Jeff's Prius makes him open to mockery from everyone else.
- 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.
- In Spark of Insanity:
- Early on in a routine with Peanut, Peanut initially refers to Santa Ana as hell due to various circumstances ("The drive from the valley?" "Was bad as hell!" "Traffic?" "Sucked like hell!" "Drivers?" "Angry as hell!" "And you?" "Were scared as hell!" "Parking here?" "Sucked more like hell!" "So...?" "We're in hell!") Later on in the same show, they have this exchange:Peanut: We're going to hell, aren't we? (beat) Welp, here we are!
- 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 Monty, his original puppet) in the 'Minding the Miniatures' Extra in the DVD.
- Jeff to the rest of his puppets, for any number of reasons, including his powder-blue Prius, his first wife's "yippy chihuahua", and his sexual prowess... not to mention the lotion thing.Jeff: Well, uh, sometimes, [my wife] calls me "The, The Hurricane".
Walter: The what?
Jeff: "The Hurricane".
Walter: Oh yeah, I get it! Exciting at first then it ends in disaster!
- The Guitar Guy, especially in the Christmas Special.
- Jeff to the rest of his puppets, for any number of reasons, including his powder-blue Prius, his first wife's "yippy chihuahua", and his sexual prowess... not to mention the lotion thing.
- The Cameo:
- AJ appears as the narrator in the intro for Minding the Monsters, but doesn't appear in the show itself proper.
- Bubba J. gets one too in the start of Controlled Chaos and doesn't get a major appearance.
- Camp Gay: Not really, but he does the voice well enough when talking about his blue Prius.It's pretty. Sparkly! *beat* I did that a little too well, didn't I?
- Casual Danger Dialog: After Jeff almost blows Achmed's cover in Malaysia (see Loophole Abuse):
- 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.
- Jeff: "Will you (stop)!"
- One used by most of the puppets: "Think about iiiiiit..."
- Censorship by Spelling: Melvin the Superhero tries to do this (claiming that he can't curse), but fails when he thinks that "whore" is spelled "h-o-r-e".Jeff: You mean a "w-h-o-r-e".
Melvin: What's a "w-hore"? Is that like a Klingon?
- Character Development: Most of Jeff's puppets have gone through this.
- Charlie Brown from Outta Town: When the Malaysian government forbade him from using or even mentioning Achmed,note Dunham brought out the puppet anyways as Jacques Merde the Dead French Terrorist, Achmed's "brother".
- Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Mentioned by Peanut in Minding the Monsters:Peanut: Sometimes he teams up with the fearsome fighter from France!
Jeff: What does he do?
Peanut: Just bitch, wait for help, then surrenders.
- Christmas Special: A Very Special one at that.
- Christmas Songs: "Jingle Bombs"! And "Roadkill Christmas".
- 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!
- Companion Cube: Parodied and lampshaded whenever the puppets (especially Peanut) point out they're... well... puppets.Peanut: I'm a real boy!
- Cool Car:
- The Achmed-mobile. Until Bubba J blows it up.
- Subverted with the Prius. Jeff gets a lot of comedy mileage out of how not cool it is.
- One bit where Achmed tells the audience how his life (that is, the "life" he has after dying) pretty much sucks. He went to the doctor one day because he thought he had scoliosis, so the doctor recommended 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!"Achmed: That's What She Said!
- The "poliosis" gaffe becomes even more hilarious when you learn that a condition by that name actually exists. (It's not a skeletal condition; it's white patches in your hair. Nor does it have anything to do with scoliosis or polio.)
- It's even lampshaded by Achmed.Achmed: This is where Jeff makes up crap just to make Guitar Guy laugh.
- One bit where Achmed tells the audience how his life (that is, the "life" he has after dying) pretty much sucks. He went to the doctor one day because he thought he had scoliosis, so the doctor recommended 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!"
- Correlation/Causation Gag: In Spark of Insanity, Walter states he told his grandson to pull his finger just a couple of seconds before an earthquake. Thinking that Walter's fart caused it, said grandson hasn't come near him since.
- Creepy Crossdresser: Achmed dressed up as "an American woman" as the costume he finds to be the scariest in Minding the Monsters.
- Dating Catwoman: Discussed by Melvin.
- The Dead Have Eyes: Achmed has big, bugged-out bloodshot eyes.
- Deadpan Snarker: Walter, José Jalapeño and, to a lesser degree, Peanut when he's not being a hyperactive spazz.
- Death Glare: Usually given by Jeff to Peanut when he's really being obnoxious.
- Deep South: Bubba J is just about every stereotype about Southern rednecks in one package.
- Dem Bones: Achmed during the intro to Controlled Chaos...otherwise his moving is all Jeff.
- Demoted to Extra:
- Sweet Daddy D and Melvin were this for a while, until both were officially retired as of Minding the Monsters.
- Bubba J. only appears in the intro for Controlled Chaos.
- In The Jeff Dunham Show, José only appears in skits dedicated to the other puppets. He doesn't get one of his own and doesn't even appear in the studio segments, with Peanut or otherwise.
- Department of Redundancy Department:
- 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?
- 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?
- At one point, Achmed threatens to kill Jeff until he's dead. Apparently, that's worse.
- 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.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Achmed's death:Achmed: I had a premature detonation. I set the timer for thirty minutes, but it went off in four seconds. [to Jeff] You know what that's like, right? Mr. Hurricane?
- Don't Explain the Joke: Walter pulls this in Spark of Insanity with an audience member.
- Duct Tape for Everything: During Controlled Chaos, Achmed's limbs flail out of position several times; after the third instance, Marnell duct-tapes Achmed's legs to the table. It's even better if you recall in the earlier Christmas Special Achmed specifically requested duct tape after his legs started flailing around.
- Escalating Punchline:Walter: When I was that age, we had to walk five miles to get a condom. Uphill. In the snow. With a boner.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Admit it. You forgot that Guitar Guy's real name is Brian Haner, Sr.note
- Everyone Has Standards: About 60% of Jeff's shows once the dummies come out is Jeff being shocked and appalled at what the puppets are saying and trying to rein the puppets in.
- Eyebrow Waggle: Achmed does this sometimes when he's making a wisecrack, especially during the Spark of Insanity special. Walter could do this, since his eyebrows are also articulated, but it would clash with his style of humor.
- Freestate Amsterdam: Walter loves it, especially the coffee houses that sell pot."I'd like a latte and a doobie...and 19 dozen doughnuts."
- Get Out!:Walter: I think my house is haunted.
Jeff: Why do you think that?
Walter: My wife is there! I walk in the front door and all I hear is GET OUT...
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: 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.
- Half-Witted Hillbilly: Bubba J is a redneck who doesn't think about much other than obtaining or drinking beer, and he encompasses almost every known "dumb redneck" stereotype.
- Ham and Deadpan Duo: Peanut and José. Peanut seems to have No Indoor Voice, while José never raises his voice.
- 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. When his first (biological) daughter was born (Dunham himself having adopted his first wife's daughter from a prior relationship), he realizes that she is the first blood relative he ever knew.
- Hates Being Touched: Achmed, as demonstrated when Jeff tries to fix his feet in "Spark of Insanity".Achmed: STOP TOUCHING MEEEEEEE!!!!! [beat, during which Achmed looks at the audience and then back at Jeff] I KEEL YOOOOOOOU!!!!!!
- Hey, That's My Line!: Achmed doesn't care too much for his French cousin Pierre because he stole his catchphrase and turned it into his own.Pierre: SILENCE! I SCREW YOU!
- Hoist By Their Own Petard:
- Jeff's first 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.
- Hummer Dinger: Jeff has an H1 Hummer, in contrast to his powder-blue Prius. Unfortunately, it has a huge gas tank that costs over $100 to fill, as well as very low gas mileage.Jeff: I pushed the vehicle home! As it rolled into the driveway, I called my kids out, and I said, "Girls, look at our new front yard ornament! Get in the Prius."
- 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, "I hate Irish music!"
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Achmed drops a couple based on his Catchphrase:
- He suggests visiting IKEA so he can give them a new slogan: "IKEA-ll you!"
- And then there's the time his mother dresses him in Scottish clothing: "I kilt you!"
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Achmed, who wants people to think he is dangerous but is also deathly afraid of Walter and once asked Jeff for a hug.
- Inhibition-Destroying Puppet: Jeff's dummies are easily a lot more crass and uninhibited than Jeff. They cover a range of touchy subjects that Jeff, on his own, won't talk about, often with Jeff arguing or admonishing them on the appropriateness of the situation.
- Insistent Terminology: In the Christmas Special, Achmed is wearing a Santa hat, but so as not to offend anyone, he insists that it's "a holiday hat".Jeff: Y-you're afraid of offending people?
Jeff: You're—you're a terrorist. You kill people.
Achmed: That's different. Killing folks is easy. Being politically correct is a pain in the ass!
- Ironic Echo: The punchline for Achmed's scene in Controlled Chaos:AJ, Achmed's son: I don't want to be a terrorist.
Achmed: *gasp* But I want you to be just like me!
AJ: Well, I'm not and I won't be.
Jeff: Achmed, can you accept that?
Achmed: I guess I can try.
Jeff: And AJ, what if he doesn't accept it?
AJ: I keel you.
Achmed: *gasp* THAT'S MY BOY!
- Is That What They're Calling It Now?:
- Walter's reaction to Jeff's argument diffusion method by thinking of something different:Walter: Like what?
Jeff: Um, I don't know, uh... "If you choke a Smurf, what color does it turn?"
[Walter's eyebrows raise slowly]
Walter: ..."choke a Smurf".
Walter: Is that what they're calling it now? What the hell happened to the chicken?
- During the Christmas Special:Walter: "Bag of jollies"? Is that what they're calling it now?
- Walter's reaction to Jeff's argument diffusion method by thinking of something different:
- 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 pronounces 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 (or at least his stage persona) 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.
- Keet: When Peanut isn't being rude, he's a hyper spazz.
- Lampshade Hanging:
- Peanut frequently does this as part of his Medium Awareness.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: What are you doing?
Peanut: I'm speaking to José in his native tongue.
Jeff: Well, don't do that.
Peanut: Why not?
Jeff: Uh, well, it makes me feel... left out...
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 realizes where it is] I hope you're wearing a glove!
- This is later followed up by discovering the stick that moves his arm and violently moving it with his mouth.Peanut: (screams) WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? (struggles with the stick before giving up and swaying the arm without a stick) That explains why this one sucks.
- This is later followed up by discovering the stick that moves his arm and violently moving it with his mouth.
- Peanut frequently does this as part of his Medium Awareness.
- Littlest Cancer Patient: Parodied with Achmed, who has poliosis, much to his confusion.note Achmed: What the fuck is poliosis!?
- Loophole Abuse:
- Jeff mentions 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 José 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 José are good to go.
- When performing in Malaysia in All Over The Map, Jeff was politely, but sternly, asked not to use or mention Achmed. As a guest in their country, he agreed to their wishes and did not even mention Achmed.note They did not, however, say anything regarding Achmed's French twin brother, Jacques Merde.
- Medium Awareness:
- Peanut seems to be the only puppet who is consistently aware of his "true" relationship with Jeff and he'll hang a hardware store's worth of lampshades on it.Peanut: [at some point after the "Am I pissing you off-fa-fa?" bit] You know, the weird part is, I am actually pissing him off. And he would like to kill me! But he will not because that would be a form of suicide!
- In one bit, he 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. He even extends this to how Jeff sees his first wife.Peanut: When you're wacky and having a great time, that's ME. When you're pissed off and lying there thinking "Why did I marry this broad?!", that's Walter. When you're so angry you wanna kill her, that's Achmed.
Jeff: What is 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.
- Much, much earlier than these examples, Peanut occasionally took up ventriloquism himself, resulting in meta-puppetry.
- Peanut would spazz out and try to kiss Jeff. After the first time, Jeff would dodge or block every subsequent attempt, no matter how quickly he tries.Peanut: Holy crap, you're quick! ...it's like you know...
- Peanut seems to be the only puppet who is consistently aware of his "true" relationship with Jeff and he'll hang a hardware store's worth of lampshades on it.
- Mistaken for Gay: Largely because of his blue Prius. His first wife even spells it out for him at one point:Jeff: [as his first wife] You're driving a powder-blue Prius, you're holding a three-pound chihuahua, there's pretty Christmas decorations all over your car, and you make a living with dolls. You're gay!
- Multiple-Choice Past: José Jalapeño on a Stick, in regards to his country of origin.
- 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:José: I'm Puerto Rican. I'm from New York City.
- In Spark of Insanity, he says that he is Mexican.Peanut: Okay. Ummm, you're a jalapeño.
José: Si, Señor. On a stick.
Peanut: Right. You're a Mexican jalapeño.
José: On a stick.
Peanut: Right. Are you a legal Mexican jalapeño?
- In Arguing With Myself, for example:
- Must Have Caffeine:
- An addiction to caffeine goes part of the way in explaining Peanut's spastic personality.Jeff: Peanut, what is wrong with you?
Peanut: Nyquil and Red Bull!!
- In Unhinged in Hollywood, Peanut says he did NOT go to Starbucks for a latte.
- An addiction to caffeine goes part of the way in explaining Peanut's spastic personality.
- My Eyes Are Up Here: Achmed says this word for word in Minding the Monsters when Jeff looks over his "American woman" costume, as a way of getting him to stop.Achmed: My hoochers do not talk. But of course, you could make them talk if you wanted to, couldn't you?
- No Fourth Wall: The puppets 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: What's your name? What. Is. Your. Name?? ...I'm fuckin' looking right at ya! [to Jeff] ...Aren't I?
Jeff: I think so.
Peanut: Fix my eyes, asshole!
- No Sense of Personal Space: Peanut does this to Jeff all the time, even going as far as trying to bite his face.
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer:
- The lotion story: "This is all true, it's too stupid to make up."
- The photos Jeff shows of himself and his dummies at the start of Controlled Chaos. He admits that they're so stupid that one might assume that they were photoshopped.
- Comes at the end of the "Signers at a Ventriloquist Show" bit.note Jeff: The sad part is this is all completely true.
- Not Me This Time:Jeff: Scotland is the murder capital of Europe.
Achmed: I DIDN'T DO IT! I had nothing to do with this shit!
- Oh, Crap!:
- Achmed when he realises they're performing in Israel. As in IDF.Holy crap.
- Bubba J also has this reaction in Israel when he learns what "circumcision" is.Please put me back in the suitcase.
- When Jeff accidentally says "Achmed" in Malaysia, after being asked not to use or mention him at all.Jeff: [reading an audience member's question] "Dear Achmed"...
Jacques Merde: It has been nice knowing you. [beat] Kumbaya...
- Considering he usually doesn't care about where he is except to make jokes, Walter has a big one when he finds out they're in Abu Dhabi.
- Achmed when he realises they're performing in Israel. As in IDF.
- Oh, No... Not Again!:Achmed: SILENCE! I ke—(notices his legs falling out of place) Oh, not this crap again!
- This happens so much in 'Controlled Chaos' that Marnell duct tapes his legs to the table, partly to fix the problem and partly because Achmed is 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 he mistakes for bombers arriving too early.Achmed: Not yet, dumbasses!
- Achmed's arms and ribs fall off in the middle of the Unhinged skit. And his legs keep falling out of place. It doesn't help that the CEO of NBC had him thrown into a dumpster.
- 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.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Inverted in that Jeff occasionally uses the wrong accent with a character. In one of the first two specials, arguing between Peanut and José causes him to put José's accent with Peanut's voice. In Controlled Chaos, discussion between Achmed (who speaks with a middle-eastern accent) and A.J. (who "sounds like Elton John") causes Jeff to put on an accent while speaking as himself!
- 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:
- Jeff performs 30-to-45 minutes of stand-up comedy at the beginning of each performance. However, his taped specials omit most, if not all, of this in favor of getting to his better-known ventriloquism faster.
- 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.
- Overly Narrow Superlative: Achmed is the most beloved terrorist throughout the world.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Jacques Merde, Achmed's French brother.
- Parking Payback: Walter talks about running down a non-disabled man who parked in a handicapped space.Walter: I made an honest man out of him. Then his mother got out of the other side and started swinging her crutches at me. Took her out with the door.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad:
- Achmed 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!"
- In Malaysia, Jeff was sternly, yet politely, asked to not perform with a certain puppet. He agrees, as he is a guest in their country. He goes on with Achmed's French brother.
- 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.
- Porn Stache: Jeff used to have one.
- Power Perversion Potential: When Melvin claims he has X-ray vision:Jeff: Well, can you see through something practical, like clothes?
Melvin: Oh, you're sick! [beat; whispering] YES. I love lookin' at boobies!
- It doesn't work on silicone, however.
- A Rare Sentence: Jeff admits how strange it sounds for him to introduce Achmed as "the world's most beloved terrorist."
- 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. Dunham can also combine this with Only Sane Man to get away with some truly offensive jokes. Because it's the puppet making the joke, he can act shocked and offended and still come away relatively clean.
- Repetitive Name: Jeff asks Bubba J. what the "J" stands for, and is told it is "Junior", prompting this exchange:Jeff: Well, it's a good thing they didn't name you Junior.
Bubba J.: Yeah, that'd be dumb. Junior Junior. [chuckles] That's my brother's name.
- Ruder and Cruder: Dunham has spoken in interviews about having to do this early in his career to boost his popularity, much to the disappointment of his parents.
- Running Gag:
- "Guitar Guy's" supposed drug use, Jeff's blue Prius, The Lotion, the tendency to pronounce Jeff's first name as "Jeff-fa-fa" and his last name as "Dun-HAM"note , calling Jeff's puppets "dolls" (meaning that Jeff plays with dolls), and the puppets telling Jeff or the audience 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.
- In Minding the Monsters, cats being sexually assaulted.
- Sarcasm Failure: Peanut's reaction when Jeff reveals he can't speak Spanish when Peanut and José were just doing so.
- Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Walter, who wants to work at Walmart as a greeter now that he's retired.Walter: Welcome to Wal-Mart. Get your shit and get out! [pause] Have a nice day!
- Self-Deprecation: In a manner of speaking. Much of Jeff's act consists of his puppets making fun of him. Of course, he also makes fun of himself simply for being a middle-aged man who gets up on stage and argues with his dolls.
- 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 Little Ugly-Ass Jeff. 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.
- Silence, You Fool!: Mash this and I'll Kill You! together and you get one of Achmed's Catch Phrases.
- 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, letting their wackiness contrast with his relatively straightforward attitude.
- Strawman Political: Subverted with Larry, who despite being President Trump's advisor refuses to comment on his policies one way or the other and cuts Jeff off when he starts doing so, berating him for thinking that anyone cares what some entertainer's political opinions are. Instead, his jokes are all about Trump's personal idiosyncracies and Bad Boss tendencies.
- Take That!: Jeff talks about doing his show in "places where they can barely speak English, like France and Southern California."
- 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.Jeff: I must've gone to the store and said, "Do you have any pants that don't even go with themselves?"
- Talking to Himself: Jeff is a ventriloquist, after all. In Controlled Chaos (and some of his older performances), he has a five-way conversation with himself.
- That's What She Said: Achmed gets on a roll with this in Controlled Chaos, much to Jeff's chagrin. He finally tricks Achmed into cutting it out, thus:Jeff: I heard you were talking to Walter earlier.
Achmed: [upset] Dammit!
- They Killed Kenny Again: Walter comments on this in Spark of Insanity:Walter: [looking right into a camera lens] This is Comedy Central! I can see Cartman. I can see Kenny. Oh, he just got killed.
- Those Two Guys: Peanut and José.
- 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 have 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 bends 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.
- During Unhinged in Hollywood, Jeff accidentally throws Peanut onto the stage. After Jeff picks him up, he looks like he's nursing a serious headache.Peanut: WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED?! (audience laughter) IT'S NOT FUNNY! (to Jeff) I hate you!
- 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 doo-doo dwelling! It's a fart fort, I tell ya! And she lives in a shit shack!
- Also happens in the Christmas special, when Bubba J recalls Santa Claus accidentally getting burned in the former's fireplace. Bubba J put out the fire on Santa by urinating on him!Bubba J: Yeah, I've added a new step to that list.
Jeff: What list?
Bubba J: Stop, drop and quit rollin' around so I can piss on you!
- 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.
- Unexplained Recovery: The first mention of Achmed Junior had Achmed saying he got blown up on a "Bring your kids to work day" excursion. AJ's eventual appearance showed that skin on half of his body had been blown off but he was otherwise intact. His explanation? "Surprise."
- Unwanted Assistance: 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 MEEEEE!!! I KEELL YOUUUUU!!!
- Verbal Tic: Jeff's speech is constantly peppered with phlegm (such as ACHK-med and sometimes HECK-ff for Jeff and HOCK-se for José.) It gets passed on to his puppets, especially when they say anything with a K sound. Even Achmed points out, "Why do I have phlegm? I don't have an esophagus."
- Visual Pun:
- Jeff asked Melvin what his most outstanding feature was. He turned to look at Jeff, displaying a righteously large nose.Melvin: ...My costume.
- Some could consider Achmeds entire existence as sorta this. Question: Whats the only good terrorist? For those of you that don't get it, it's a dead terrorist.
- Jeff asked Melvin what his most outstanding feature was. He turned to look at Jeff, displaying a righteously large nose.
- Vocal Evolution: From the 80's up through the early 2000's, each of the character's voices was very distinctive. As Jeff has gotten older, however (55 as of this writing), the wear and tear on his vocal cords from over forty years of performing has forced him to dial their voices back, to where all the characters are starting to sound more like Jeff himself.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Melvin has two of them: cupcakes and porn. Not both at the same time, however; he needs a free hand.
- What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Peanut accuses Jeff of being on drugs and when Jeff denies it, Peanut asks him:Peanut: Never smoked pot.
Peanut: Never done drugs.
Peanut: Then how the hell did you come up with meeeeeeee?!
- X on a Stick: José Jalapeño on a Stick, which gets lampshaded several times and also is one of José's Running Gags, namely adding "on a steek" to random things.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Peanut has green hair, not to mention purple skin and white fur.
- You Mean "Xmas":
- During the Christmas special, when Jeff brings out Walter, this exchange between them takes place:Jeff: Happy holidays.
Walter: You know, I've been wanting to say this for a couple of years now: screw you, it's "Merry Christmas".
- Then Jeff points out that there are people who don't celebrate Christmas:Jeff: You know, Walter, there are people of other faiths.
Walter: And they're wrong!
- During the Christmas special, when Jeff brings out Walter, this exchange between them takes place:
- You Need a Breath Mint: One of Peanut's burns directed at Jeff.Peanut: *slowly backing away from Jeff and twitching his head* Dude, you need a Tic-Tac. You know what your breath smells like? Dun-ham!! Dot com!
- Your Mom:
- José Jalapeño on a Steek has so insulted Peanut this way that it has become something of a Running Gag. For example, this happens when Peanut insults José by calling him a "Mexican condiment":José: I do not use them.
Peanut: You don't?
José: And neither did your mother!
- Shortly thereafter, this happens:Peanut: Oh yeah? Well, your mother's a corn dog!
José: On a steek!
- Another example: in the Christmas Special, Jeff asks José what he wants for Christmas and Peanut butts in, resulting this gem:Peanut: I think he needs a bigger stick.
José: That's not what your mother said!
- José Jalapeño on a Steek has so insulted Peanut this way that it has become something of a Running Gag. For example, this happens when Peanut insults José by calling him a "Mexican condiment":