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Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special - Review

About.com Rating 1.5 Star Rating
User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)

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DVD cover art for Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special
Photo courtesy of PriceGrabber

Puppet comedian Jeff Dunham exists somewhere in that gray area between an impressionist and a prop comic. He's essentially just doing a bunch of funny voices (though his lips don't move), but his act requires more than just himself and a microphone -- he's using, for lack of a better term, "props."

I freely recognize that there's room for all kinds of comedy in the spectrum of stand-up, and when someone finds a creative way to do something different, I get excited. I don't necessarily feel that way about Dunham, who, in my opinion, is pretty much just a ventriloquist scoring cheap laughs with puppets that either are or spout ethnic stereotypes. He's a panderer -- though a wildly popular one.

That's most of what he offers on his latest stand-up special, Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special, which premiered on Comedy Central (it's also available on DVD).

The "Suitcase Posse"

Don't believe me? Take a look at what we get to see during the Very Special Christmas Special:

  • First up is "Walter," a curmudgeonly old puppet that apparently is racist. He makes fun of saying "holidays" instead of "Christmas" (which gets a disturbing cheer from the audience), then says racist things about African-Americans and Kwanzaa (speaking in slang, saying he should be drinking malt liquor, etc.). I guess we're supposed to thing that this material is ok, because it's a "character" saying it and not Dunham himself, but I'm not sure I buy that. When someone like Sarah Silverman tells a joke about race, the joke is about her own clueless attitudes and preconceptions -- it's about racism itself. "Walter's" jokes are just racist. But, then, he gets a huge response from the crowd in attendance, so I must be missing something.

  • Next is "Achmed the Dead Terrorist," a skeleton puppet with a beard and Santa hat on (it's a Christmas special). This puppet gets the longest segment of the show, during which he gets to rattle off a series of Islamic stereotypes (they're all terrorists, I guess) and threatens to kill and bomb all Americans. Then, Dunham brings out a guitar player and "Achmed" sings a song called "Jingle Bombs," in which he talks about getting shot by the U.S. military (which elicits another disturbing cheer) and blowing everything up. Finally, a comedian willing to make fun of terrorists -- and in the broadest, most obvious way possible.
  • The penultimate puppet guest is "Bubba J.," a buck-toothed redneck puppet preoccupied with drinking beer. That seems to be his only joke -- he likes to drink beer and is stupid (actually, his act sounded a whole lot like Larry the Cable Guy, so take that for what it's worth). I did find it odd that when he talks about watching NASCAR and drinking beer, it gets a huge response from the crowd at the Pabst Theater. But it would seem that "Bubba J." exists to be mocked, so are we supposed to find him stupid or identify with him? I can't get a reading on my Irony Detector.
  • The final guest of the evening is "Peanut," a purple monkey-looking thing that has apparently been identified in past Dunham specials as something called a "Woozle." Peanut's shtick is being hyper-active, which he does well. Then, Dunham brings out one of his oldest characters, "Mexican Jalapeno on a Stick," (the first character I ever saw him do) so the two puppets can engage in some more ethnic stereotyping. Then they're joined by Guitar Guy again and do another Christmas song.
  • Subjective Objections

    The Very Special Christmas Special was taped in front of a packed house at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and every audience member responds to every joke with great laughter and enthusiasm. In January of 2008, Dunham won "favorite comedian" on Comedy Central's Comedian Showdown. He clearly has a very large, very loyal, very vocal following. So maybe I don't get it.

    There's nothing on the Christmas Special to change my opinion of Dunham's comedy; my objections remain the same. But, then, comedy will always be subjective, and we will always disagree on what is funny and what is not. If you're someone that finds Dunham and his puppets funny, that's fine. You can have him.

    Original Air Date: November 16, 2008

    User Reviews

    Reviews for this section have been closed.

     5 out of 5
    this episode was kickass, Member elberto

    This is the best episode of jeff dunham's performances.The reason is because he uses different jokes in each episode, unlike most comedians. And the different puppets or characters have different personalities so it gets really funny.The bonus features of the DVD are also entertaining.This episode is not for people who get offended really easily {REALLY EASILY].The only problem with the DVD is it dosen't give you the choice to bleep or non-bleep the swears.It is funny as hell. First jeff dunham does his own stand-up comedy for 13 and a half minutes.He talks about his 16-year-old daughter.And how she fills gasoline in her car.Finally he talks about her way of swiping a credit card. Jeff soon after takes out one of his oldest puppets, walter.Walter explains his way he thinks about other peoples' religion .And jeff tries to get him into the christmas spirit.Walter learns new words after his cable box got stuck on the vet network. After walter jeff takes out achmed the dead terrorist.He has the biggest part in the whole episode. And he pretends to be santa.Then achmed sings a christmas song making fun of jingle bells.Achmed has much more jokes. Bubba J is after achmed.Bubba J talks about how he spends chritmas at his house.He sings a christmas song.And as usual he talks about beer.Bubba J is not a very old puppet,like achmed.Bubba J is a redneck Then another old puppet comesand his name is peanut.Peanut is a tall purple monkey.He is very hyper throughout his part.Peanut soon tells his piont of the night before christmas.He argues with jeff a lot.Peanut makes fun of Angelina Jolee. The last puppet is jose the jalepeno on a stick.He is shown with peanut.The talk about flashbacks about achmed the dead terrorist.And peanut makes fun of the way jose talks.And peanut makes fun of the way jose celebrates christmas.Then jose kind of tells the real way he celebrates christmas. BUY THE DVD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    4 out of 28 people found this helpful.

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