Jeff Dunham Show Overview
Borrowing the model of Chappelle's Show, the Comedy Central series The Jeff Dunham Show features the hugely popular ventriloquist comedian in a combination of live audience stand-up (he acts as host of the show) with a series of pre-taped sketches and bits featuring his puppets. Some of the segments are scripted sketches, while others are man-on-the-street interview pieces in which Dunham's puppets (Achmed the Dead Terrorits, Bubba J., Walter, Peanut and others) interact with real people in L.A.
Jeff Dunham Show Review:
The first episode of The Jeff Dunham Show delivers exactly what I've come to expect from the comedian: broad racial stereotypes, homophobic humor and an overall pandering to the beer-swilling, gun-worshipping "real America" that exists only as a construct of or response to guys like Dunham. After a few minutes of stiff monologue, Dunham awkwardly transitions into the first taped bit in which he and curmudgeonly puppet Walter visit a therapist so that they can communicate better. When the therapist turns out to be gay, the sketch devolves into endless homophobic jokes, with the ultimate lesson being that Walter and Dunham are finally able to agree one one thing: that they don't want to be gay. Disgusting.
From there, it's a racist and offensive sketch featuring Achmed the Dead Terrorist as a stand-up comic. I know Dunham gets away with the character (it's one of his most popular) because he labels it a "terrorist," though all he does is embrace and perpetuate negative Muslim stereotypes. Next comes a segment with hyperactive purple monkey-thing Peanut on a date with guest star Brooke Hogan. I'll give the show credit for making it an entire segment without really relying on racism or stereotypes, but that doesn't make the sketch all that funny. And should we really be giving a show credit for making it six minutes without being racist or homophobic? Most shows -- and comedians, for that matter -- make it years without miring in that muck.
The final segment sees goofy redneck Bubba J. having a field day by visiting a gun range, drinking beer and spending time with a fellow gun enthusiast, a retired music teacher who happens to be a Vietnam vet (leading to the one decent joke of the 22-minute show: "You were in Vietnam? Did you make it back?"). The celebration of shooting guns is a bit off-putting to someone like me, but I guess Dunham knows his fan base.
The Jeff Dunham Show is exactly what you'd expect: a weekly extension of Dunham's stand-up act. For fans (and there are many), that's probably great news. For the rest of us, it's what we've feared.