I can still remember the complete wave of confusion that washed over me a year or two ago when a friend of mine asked me if I’d seen Jeff Dunham’s DVDs, “Arguing with Myself” and “Spark of Insanity.” Not because *I* didn’t know who the guy was, but because I couldn’t quite work out how the friend who was asking me knew about him. As far as I knew, he was just this comedian with a purple puppet named Peanut, a guy who’d been working the stand-up circuit for years. To this day, I have no idea exactly what changed and when he suddenly became so huge that my daughter’s sitter was enough of a fan to have his DVDs, but, hey, more power to him.
After the success of his most recent special, “A Very Special Christmas,” which earned more than 6.6 million viewers and was Comedy Central’s most watched telecast ever, it’s no surprise that the network decided to transition Dunham into a weekly series, and since he’s become a household name, why not go with the most obvious title?
Welcome, then, to “The Jeff Dunham Show.”
Give the guy credit: he knows the path he’s taken to get here, he’s thrilled that he’s made it, and he’s not afraid to mock how long it took.
“As I drove here today,” Dunham began, “I realized I was going past the comedy club here in Pasadena called The Ice House, and it was there at The Ice House in 1990 that I did my ninth audition for ‘The Tonight Show’ and was booked to do ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’ for the first of four times. And if I had known standing there in that parking lot in 1990 that I would be here at this time doing this for Comedy Central, I would have thought, ‘You know what? That just took too fucking long.'”
Of course, Dunham immediately broke out one of his little friends, and who better to present to a bunch of grumpy TV critics than Walter? I try desperately not to offer up actual transcripts of the panels, but given the necessary back-and-forth with a ventriloquist’s act, I’m guessing I’ll be allowed some leeway here…
Walter: Who the hell is the group?
Jeff Dunham: We talked about that earlier today, you know who it is.
Walter: No, I kind of forgot.
Jeff Dunham: Okay, I wrote it down for you.
Walter: Oh, good. Okay. Let’s see, the TV Critics Association Cable Press Tour. That’s it?
Jeff Dunham: That’s it.
Walter: I think our career has peaked. You know, I was thinking to myself just the other day, we’ve had specials on Comedy Central, we’ve opened for the President, but we’ve never done a show for the TV freakin critics. Are you being paid for this gig cash? It is none of that barter crap, is it? We’re not going to get like a year’s subscription to TV Guide for God sake, are we? This is just sad. Let me get this straight: so their job is to get up in the morning, turn on the TV, stuff their pie holes, and then trash the new shows.
Jeff Dunham: I guess.
Walter: This is genius. I want this job. “What’s your dad’s job?” “He tells the world that your dad’s show sucks.” Fantastic.