Jeff Dunham

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Jeff Dunham
Birth name Jeff Dunham
Born 1960
Dallas, Texas
Genres Stand up, ventriloquism
Spouse Paige Dunham (1990-present)
Website Jeff Dunham.com

Jeff Dunham is an American ventriloquist and a stand-up comedian. He was born in 1960 in Dallas, Texas. A graduate from Baylor University, he has performed on numerous comedy shows, including Comedy Central Presents in 2003. His usual puppets include a woozle named Peanut, a bitter old man named Walter, and José Jalapeño, a talking jalapeño pepper on a stick, Achmed the dead terrorist, and an unusual superhero named Melvin. His first DVD, Jeff Dunham: Arguing With Myself, was released in April 2006. In this stand-up offering, Jeff opens his show playing straight-man to his usual crew and includes two other characters: Sweet Daddy D and Bubba J, in place of Achmed and Melvin. His new comedy special "Jeff Dunham: Spark of Insanity" was available at Redbox stands on 4 September, 2007,[1] and was released to buy on DVD 18 September, 2007. The DVD features Peanut, José, Walter, Melvin the Super Hero, and Achmed the Dead Terrorist. The DVD was taped at the Warner Theater in Washington, DC. Comedy Central aired "Spark of Insanity" on 23 September, 2007.

Puppets

Peanut

Peanut is a Woozle with a small tuft of green hair on his head, and only one shoe. (When this fact was mentioned by Jeff, that he noticed that it looked as though Peanut had lost a shoe, Peanut responded,"No man, I found one!") Peanut was made in Salem, Virginia. Unlike most of Jeff Dunham's puppets, Peanut's eyes and eyebrows are immobile. This allows for a greater range of motion for his head. Peanut also has a rod attached to his left elbow which Jeff operates to further the range of the puppet's movement.

According to his fictional biography, Peanut was born on an island in Micronesia in the Pacific Ocean near Guam and has 5 siblings. Peanut also has a grandfather who has a hearing aid. Peanut usually mocks him by speaking as if the hearing aid was faulty. He never finished school. He moved to the United States in 1986. According to the official website, he met Jeff Dunham in central Texas, but according to Arguing With Myself, they met in Florida.

There is a special feature on the Arguing With Myself DVD showing Jeff Dunham's pet chihuahua humping a doll of the puppet. There is also an outtake where Peanut's green tuft of hair accidentally came out. Noticing a member of the audience who is also bald, Jeff hops offstage with Peanut and has Peanut hug the man and rub his head. On the DVD, Walter had said that Peanut should have said jokingly "I feel your pain." Then Jeff walks back up to the stage, having Peanut ask a member of the audience to borrow their chair. When Jeff picks up Peanut's hair, Peanut asks the man if he would like to buy it. Then Jeff attempts to put it back on, but Peanut starts to complain that it hurts and says,"This sucks". On Jeff's second attempt he gets it on, showing that Peanut has a hole in his head where the stick that's attached to his hair goes. Peanut's nose is attached to his face by Velcro and can also be removed.

One of Peanut's trademarks is when he swings his hand over his head and says "Neeow!", referring to a joke going over someone's head. Other catchphrases include "That's good, that's good, that's gewwwwwwd," "That'd be funny as HELL!", "Oh-KAAAY", and comically mispronouncing various words and names (including pronouncing Jeff's last name "Dun-ham", then followed up by saying, "You're [Jeff] the other white meat"; he has also pronounced Jeff's first name as "Je-fah-fah," saying that he was "using an unneeded F". Peanut usually rivals with Jose Jalapeño (calls him Josie) and makes jokes and mocks his accent.

Walter

Walter is a retired and grumpy old man with arms always crossed in discontent. Married 48 years (as of 2008), he has a brash, negative, and often sarcastic view on today's world. He is a Vietnam War veteran and a former welder, and "doesn't give a damn" about anyone; especially his own wife and certain audience members. And once he dated an Indian girl who had a red dot on her forehead.

Demonstrating improvisational comedy, Jeff sometimes does a segment at the end of Walter's routine in which Walter answers questions that the audience were asked to provide prior to the show.

To express Walter's utter intolerant-of-everyone nature, the DVD features a scene just before the Q&A segment where an audience member (named Mike) leaves to the restroom. In a huff, Walter unleashes insults at him until he returns, often simply referring to him as a dumbass. In the commentary track, Jeff describes that the stage lighting limits his ability to really see the audience and he could only see that someone was walking. As he talked to Mike's wife, he realized that Mike was a friend of his. Also on the DVD is an outtake with Walter which shows the puppet's arms falling uncrossed and limp at the sides. If that weren't enough, Jeff then forgets his place when he reconfigures Walter's arms. He admits to being slightly intoxicated on tequila at the time, but somehow still maintains the laughter until he finds his place again.

Walter has also met many celebrities along with Jeff, such as Willie Nelson, Jay Leno, and Reba McEntire, and has appeared with Jeff on the Best Damn Sports Show Period, where he described his performance as "I got the brothers laughin' and the crackers pissed". He has also 'called into' the John Boy and Billy Big Show. He has stated if he had a real job he would be a greeter at Wal-Mart, and when asked what his greeting would be, he responded, "Welcome to Wal-Mart, get your shit, and get out! Have a nice day."And when first brought on stage he says " I hate this damn job, make me follow the purple Idiot! It's like a muppet on crack!"

A special feature on the Spark of Insanity DVD showed Walter announcing his candidacy for President. On Jeff Dunham's official site, visitors can vote for who they'd like to see as the next President. All of the candidates are listed, including Walter. As of April 09, 2008, Clinton leads at 49.2%, and Walter is in second at 44.2%. Although the poll may have been spammed as Walter was, on February 1, leading with about 84% of the votes.[2] Walter also has a grandson which is afraid of him, according to Walter in spark of insanity.

José Jalapeño on a Stick

José is a jalapeño pepper with a Mexican personality, a sombrero, and a mustache, whose running joke is adding "... on a stick" (or as José says, "... on a steeek!") to the end of most of his sentences. José's movement is restricted to one single motion of the mouth which Jeff operates by using his thumb on the back of José's stick. Although hindered from doing much else, José makes up for his mobility loss with his characteristics, his singing ability, and most of all, his stick. He lives in a plain pine box, one of Jeff's original character storage trunks. José is usually brought out during Peanut's act and the two often get into an argument, with Jeff in the middle of it all.

This unusual character in Dunham's act has its origin in a series of radio commercials for an Italian restaurant when Dunham was still in college. Dunham supplied voices for talking pizza toppings. The commercial was a success, so he decided to make a puppet for one of the voices. After painting the head and putting the head on a stick to let it dry, one of his roommates walked in and called out, "Hey, a Jalapeño on a Stick!", referring to "toast on a stick", a fake advertisement from Calvert DeForest's character Larry "Bud" Melman on the David Letterman Show. Both Dunham and his roommate laughed and Dunham never finished the puppet's body, instead opting to use it as is. Over the years José has had a makeover, or may have even been replaced by a better looking version.

José has clarified that he is not Mexican but Cuban (although in some of Jeff's earlier acts he has been referred to as being Mexican and José does not deny it), and that he hails from Florida, although he at times said that he's Puerto Rican and from New York City. Peanut has also given many humorous theories as to the stick, such as José mooning a javelin thrower or a freak pogo accident. ("You know, doing doing shluck!", as Peanut has said.) The latter was proven true by José shouting "Olé!" and also on Dunham's official site, where it is revealed that José was part of a family of Jumping Jalapeños, and his act involved a pogo stick. He was practicing one day, slipped, and the pogo stick pierced his underside. Close to his heart, the pogo stick could not be removed safely, so they cut off the spring part, giving him his famous "stick", though on Spark of Insanity, José implies that it is removable. Peanut was puzzled by this and said "I thought it was just stuck up his ass."

José's parents are Juan and Rosa Jalapeño. José is afraid of "cock-a-roaches," particularly "one big one...on a stick" that apparently resides in his carrying case. According to Peanut, he is also afraid of Taco Bell. Jose has a green card which makes him a legal immigrant. He keeps it in his other stick.

Jeff Dunham and José Jalapeño also made a short appearance on the 2007 film Delta Farce with Larry The Cable Guy.

Bubba J.

Bubba J. loves beer and NASCAR. The "J." is short for his last name, Junior. Bubba is married, and is assumed to have at least one child. Outlandish as his characteristically redneck attitude is, another oddity is that the dummy can move just his left eye from center to left. He also bears a noteworthy likeness to one of Edgar Bergen's puppets, Mortimer Snerd.

He met his wife at a family reunion. After a while, her father proposed for him (he apparently got her pregnant). They had the reception at Wal-Mart, because it was "easier to return the gifts."; there, it is suggested that they were greeted by Walter. Specifically, an old guy who said, "Welcome to Wal-Mart ... Get your shit and get out!" His brother's name is Junior Junior. Bubba J. has no athletic ability. When asked if he played any sports, Bubba asked if Quarters counted as a sport. Bubba J. likes to drink lots of beer, beer, beer, beer and beer. His favorite kind of beer is an open one, and he knows when he's had enough when "[he] runs out [of beer]". He also believes that AA meetings are for quitters(he calls it 'A&A'). Bubba has been abducted by aliens. They have probed him and removed his liver.

After a hiatus, Bubba was returned to Dunham's Spark of Insanity tour as the encore segment. In this encore version, Dunham pretends to use his notes to remember the jokes. However, as a large segment of entire audience know the lines, the audience recites them with Bubba J. causing Jeff to say, "You are the weirdest crowd I have had". Bubba J. continuously commented to Jeff that the audience was like "having 2000 voices in [his] head" and "it's a weird-ass version of church".

Achmed the Dead Terrorist

Achmed the Dead Terrorist is a wisecracking skeleton with a beard and a white turban (an early version of Achmed stated that it was not a turban, but underwear, because 'when someone says it's time to kill yourself, it scares the shit out of you!'). He is used by Dunham to perform comedy based on the contemporary issue of terrorism. He is known for yelling "Silence! I kill you!" at any in the audience who dare laugh at him.

He insists on pronouncing the "ch" in his name with a hocker (voiceless velar fricative). When asked how his name is spelled, he replies "A ... c ... phlegm ..." and is interrupted by the audience's laughter. He responds with his usual cry of "Silence! I kill you!"

Achmed's normal routine involves him realizing that he is dead. He looks out into the crowd for his 72 virgins, then asks, "Are you my virgins? I hope not!". When Jeff asks why, Achmed responds, "There's a bunch of ugly-ass guys out there!" and, "If this is Paradise, I've been screwed!". Jeff replies, "Did they say they would only be female virgins?" which causes Achmed to realize that the gender of the virgins was not specified and says, "Holy crap!" Achmed adds, "Wait, I can have Clay Aiken!" which refers to the popular belief that Aiken is gay (though Aiken has denied this). Achmed may seem like he is Muslim, but he has refuted this claim. When asked, he replies "Look at my ass; it says 'Made in China'". He is afraid of Walter, with whom he shares a suitcase, he claims that "Saddam's mustard gas is nothing compared to a Walter fart!"

Achmed is a suicide bomber and has received training from the "Suicide Bomber Training Camp." It used to be a nice facility until a new recruit "tried to practice." The training camp, he explains, recruits people with a slogan not unlike "We're looking for a few good men" — "We are looking for some idiots with no future." It is noted that a typical place to recruit potential suicide bombers is from the "Suicide Hotline".

Achmed's fatal accident, while making him unafraid to crack potentially offensive jokes ("I'm dead, what do I care?", he points out), has apparently left him somewhat remorseful ("I am a horrible suicide bomber," he laments. "I had a premature detonation" "I set the timer for 30 minutes but it went off in 4 seconds!" "You know how that is, right? Mr. Hurricane..." He asks Jeff reffering to when Jeff told Walter that his wife called him like that some times.). The Jingle Bombs special, implies that Achmed was shot rather than blowing up "That's when I got shot in the ass by the U.S. military." He has apparently also become a fan of rock music and video games such as Guitar Hero and Halo since joining Jeff's suitcase posse.

Jeff and Achmed did a Christmas special in which Achmed sang "Jingle Bombs" (among his other carols include "bin Laden Is Coming to Town", "O Holy Crap", and his personal favorite, "Silence! Night"), accompanied by "Guitar Guy" A.K.A. Brian Haner, comedian and father of Synyster Gates, lead guitarist of the band, Avenged Sevenfold (Achmed jokes that Brian was doing drugs backstage and called him a "racist bastard").

Achmed was originally introduced in late 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks. At the time, he was introduced as Osama bin Laden; it was not known at the time if bin Laden had survived the assault at Tora Bora. When asked what sort of training occurred at a terrorist training camp, Achmed/Osama replied "explosives training, weapons training, arts and crafts ...". Indicating his turban, he added, "See my turban? I made this!"

After the TV debut of Spark of Insanity, a YouTube user posted Jeff's performance with Achmed on the website. Immediately, the video became an instant hit. The video, to this day, has been watched over 42 million times. It is one of YouTube's most popular videos. He is also known to have many alternative voices which Jeff Dunham uses in the Tom Mabe series of prank phone calls.

Melvin the Superhero Guy

Melvin the Superhero Guy has only two real powers, flight and X-ray vision, although he can't see through silicone, and can only fly as far as Jeff can throw him. He claims he'd be more of a superhero if it weren't for his large nose and small stature. He alternately claims his arch nemesis is Pinocchio, and his wife, but only at certain times of the month when she "turns evil." He has also said he does not have an arch nemesis because he wears corrective shoes. Jeff asks him if he has any weaknesses. "Cupcakes ... and porn." Melvin continues, "but not at the same time. I need a free hand!" He also claims to fight cattle rustlers. When Jeff points out that, "There are no cattle rustlers around here," Melvin quickly replies, "See? I'm doing a damn fine job, aren't I?" He also claims to fight terrorists, specifically Achmed. When Jeff asks how, Melvin replies, "In checkers. Anytime I would get a king, Achmed would blow it up." When Jeff asks him what he does about that, Melvin replies, "I would issue a verbal threat and have Walter 'gas' him [Achmed]".

Melvin's costume is blue and yellow, with a "D" on the front of the shirt, and a yellow cape. He bought it in an online auction at eBay, and the highest bidder appears to be the only person he's ever defeated. He doesn't know what the D is for, but claims it stands for his theme song (a musical "Da da-da daa!", originally "De-de-de!"), though Walter says the "D" stands for "dumbass" (and says that his theme song should be "du-du-DUMBASS!").

Melvin often tells those who laugh at him to "Shut up!" in a high-pitched voice. He also swears, to which Jeff states that he didn't think superheroes cursed. Melvin's response: "No shit? Oops!" However, he can't swear in Spark of Insanity or properly spell curse words. Once he spells "whore" as "H-O-R-E," and when Jeff corrects him, he asks "What's a Wa-hore? Is that like a Klingon?" He also believes that the President should swear. "He's dropped the A-bomb and the H-bomb, now its time to drop the F-bomb."

His superpowers consist of flying (as far as Jeff can throw him) and X-ray vision (used for looking through clothing). He has said that he can stop a speeding bullet - once. When the audience laughs at him he says "Shut up! That hurts like hell!"

Because he is a superhero, Jeff asked him his opinions of other superheroes. To Melvin, Aquaman has the same powers of SpongeBob, The Hulk has the same powers as "every white-trash guy on Cops", and that The Flash "has no powers - he's on meth." He claims to have dated Catwoman, and contracted a disease he takes medicine for, that itches when he moves and burns when he flies. He believes Superman is a "show-off" for leaping tall buildings in a single bound and "has issues" for changing into costume in a phone-booth.

Three months before Jeff shot Spark of Insanity at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C., he started making Melvin the superhero from scratch. He finished Melvin two days before the filming took place, as shown on the Spark of Insanity DVD bonus feature.

Bubba J. was used in Arguing With Myself as a replacement dummy for Melvin, who was originally supposed to be in the show, but was severely damaged by a house fire. Jeff decided to try a different puppet instead of recreating him for the show.

Melvin's hair is fake, and fell off in an attempt to fly. A few moments after his hair piece fell off, he blamed the terrorists and said he looked like Lex Luthor.

Sweet Daddy Dee

Sweet Daddy Dee is introduced in Arguing with Myself when Jeff claims to have a new manager, Sweet Daddy Dee. Sweet Daddy Dee refers to himself as a "Player In a Managing Profession or Pimp." He then claims that this makes Jeff "the ho." To this Jeff responds: "I'm not a whore." Sweet Daddy Dee: "What do you do for a living?" Jeff: "I make people happy." Sweet Daddy Dee: "Make them feel good?" Jeff: "Yes" Sweet Daddy Dee: "You the ho" Jeff: "I like what I do." Sweet Daddy Dee: "You the ho." When Jeff asks "What if I did it only because I like it." Sweet Daddy Dee responds "You the dumb ho."

Sweet Daddy Dee loves sports but hates NASCAR because all it is is white men in cars driving in big circle. "Look, they're making a left turn." He also mentions his dislike of hockey when Jeff asks Sweet Daddy Dee about how he reacted to hockey being down. Sweet Daddy Dee says sarcasticly, "Oh no! There ain't no hockey!"

Sweet Daddy Dee makes several appearances outside his act throughout Arguing with Myself. At the end, he divides money with one of the producers, himself, and his two lady friends.

Throughout the time Sweet Daddy Dee is on stage, he makes several comments about Jeff being nerdy, and "white." He even says, "You ain't white, you're neon white," for Jeff not understanding words and phrases like "word," and "I heard that."

Sweet Daddy Dee says he made Jeff his client because he seemed safer than his other clients. When Jeff asks Sweet Daddy Dee to name them, but Sweet Daddy Dee refuses. Jeff asks him for just some initials, in which Sweet Daddy Dee tells him, "O.J." Meaning OJ Simpson. He then realizes how specific that is and yells, "Oh shit!"

Jeff can control many parts of Sweet Daddy Dee, including his mouth, eyes, and eyebrows. However Sweet Daddy Dee's most unique feature is that Jeff can raise Sweet Daddy Dee's upper lip. He only does this after Sweet Daddy Dee laughs, making a kiss-like noise when he lifts it. Sweet Daddy Dee wears a metallic dark pink suit and tie with a gold colored shirt underneath, and gold colored pants. He also has earrings and a gold colored hat.

Others

Jeff has also performed with lesser-known dummies, including Larry the Ultimate Sports Fan (also known as Larry, the Palm Beach County Ballot Re-Count Counter and Larry the Y2K IT Guy), Roadkill (an opossum that has been run over by a variety of vehicles), The Monkey, Archie Everett, Judge Lance Ito (according to Jeff's Myspace page, the Ito dummy was used to perform for a sequestered jury during the O.J. Simpson trial), Ollie (an Elvis impersonator), a cockroach, and a worm at the bottom of a bottle of tequila. There is also a dummy of Jeff himself, which is Peanut's own puppet.

Personal life

Jeff has been married to Paige since 1990. He has three daughters, Bree, Ashlyn and Kenna.[citation needed]

The Dunham family also owns four dogs: Bill the golden retriever, Jake and Darby the Chihuahuas, and their offspring, Rusty. The Dunhams and their dogs live in the Los Angeles-area.

Mystery Science Theater 3000

Jeff has been referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000 a few times, most notably in episode 810, "The Giant Spider Invasion". He has also been referenced on Mike Nelson's new project, RiffTrax.

References

External links