Jeff Dunham on Whether He Will Release a Report Without Dolls


Jeff Dunham is a very famous comedian/ventriloquist. Wait, or is it a ventriloquist/comedian? Dunham himself doesn’t even seem to know. In each of his comedy releases, before he starts releasing his line of famous stooges, he does a solid piece of straight comedy that builds up the rest of his show. This is when he can tell jokes about his family and personal life, which later tease his chest full of characters. He usually laughs a lot during this opening segment, which made me wonder if he would consider a special offer consisting only of a straight stand-up. Now we have the answer.

I recently met with Dunham to discuss his new release of Me The People. Considering the fact that in his 30-plus years of working in the entertainment industry, he has never produced a real stand-up show, I asked if he had ever thought about it, and he replied the following:

I sincerely believe that you are dancing with the one who brought you, and I don’t think people will come to see me just perform in a stand. But I like doing it because you’re right, most of the stand-up now determines what happens in the rest of the show… but no, I don’t think I’ll ever do stand-up alone, because ventriloquism is what got me to where I am. And I think the audience, that’s what they pay for.

In truth, this answer shows the level of self-awareness on Dunham’s part. After all, his characters have become as famous as he is. Some would be more inclined to remember the names of Walter, Peanuts and Jose Jalapeno before they remember the person who brought them to life. Not that all of his characters are successful, as he recently told us about some that left Dunham wondering, “What the hell was I thinking?” However, he has a way of creating adorable little mannequins that make the audience come, and he will never deprive them of it.

He went on to tell an anecdote by none other than Pee-Wee Herman himself, Paul Rubens, to further illustrate the importance of attracting puppets when people attend one of his performances.:

I remember when the Pee-Wee Theater was huge in Dallas, and I grew up in Dallas, but I was in Baylor down south, and I heard he was at a comedy club, and people were so upset because he just came in as Paul Rubens, and he didn’t play the character of Pee-Wee.Vi. And people said: “Why do we come to you at all?”

Thus, Dunham never forgot the negative reaction of Paul Rubens and continues to apply what he learned in this situation to this day. Rubens seems to have learned from this himself, as he is still squeezing all his value out of the character and is even currently eyeing a “dark” look at the character with directors like Uncut Jewels. When you have a character that is iconic enough that people break down the nuances between incarnations in movies and on television, as people do with Pee-Wee, you will experience some resistance when you leave him out of a live show.

Dunham also has a cost-effective reason to stand up at the beginning of his performances, and it is that he does not want to pay for warming up. He also said this:

But I also did it from an economic point of view. Firstly, I think I like being alone on the road in my own tour bus… I didn’t want to share my tour bus with the warm-up, you know, I like my own space. So it was. But there is also the economic part, when I paid these guys a lot of money to open for me. And I’m like, “Wait, I’m going there and I’m standing there for 15, 20, 30 minutes.” Why do I need a warm-up?”

I mean… of course. Who wants to pay for warming up? Jeff Dunham’s stand-up has become such an effective part of his overall show that it’s ridiculous to think that he started just to save on expenses and have a tour bus for himself. Gabriel Iglesias recently told us that he had to pay a huge fine after his last special offer, so it’s not cheap at all.

Luckily, you can see Jeff Dunham’s new special “I, the People” with his favorite puppets in his hands on Comedy Central on Friday, November 25. if he comes to a city near you. If you don’t like comedy puppeteering, don’t worry, as many more will appear on television in 2022, and premieres are scheduled for 2023.


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