Jeff Dunham: A Heart of Wood

Concert photography

Jeff Dunham

Jeff Dunham’s suitcase posse was in the house at Thunder Valley Casino Resort Saturday night, performing to a sold-out crowd. As was expected, the audience was a mix of young and old, including my 13 and 15 year old sons, and their great-Grandmother of 87 years old.

Jeff Fa Fa DunHAM, which is how the hyperactive Peanut refers to him, was born in 1962, making him an old guy who likes to play with dolls. We’re not talking about the kind of dolls Mom used to play with, or Dad for that matter (remember GI Joe, or maybe it was the Ken doll). No, we’re talking about larger-than-life, mouthy, belligerent, racist, downright disobedient, and let’s not forget just plain crazy, funny dolls.

These creations of lumber are nothing short of adorable, mean-spirited and, above all, hilarious. While Dunham is the creator, mastermind and the voice behind these creatures, he just didn’t seem to have the same comedic power while performing onstage without them.

Starting with a brief monologue about his dog which received some general laughter, Dunham went from being a so-so comedian to a true standup comic as soon as he introduced his old buddy Walter. Before bringing Walter out, Dunham explained they had just finished taping a Halloween special entitled “Minding the Monsters” for DVD and Comic Central,  he thought he would give the audience a preview by using some of the material in the evenings show. To complete the Halloween special Dunham had all his characters dressed in costumes.

Jeff Dunham doing his monolog – bring on the dummies!!

Walter is a retired, grumpy old man. His arms are always crossed and he appears quite discontented. He’s a sarcastic, negative old cuss who has seen better days. A Vietnam War veteran and former welder, Walter doesn’t give a damn about anyone, even his own wife. Walter was Dunham’s own creation from conception to his silicon mold.

Right out of the box Walter had the audience on their feet cheering, to which he replied, “Shut the hell up!” Walter wanted to know where the walls were, and started complaining about performing outside, letting Dunham know that his career was just zooming.

Trying to divert Walter’s attention back to the audience Dunham reminding him of all the applause and without skipping a beat Walter responded, “They applauded because they were happy you finished your cute little doggy story.”

In response to a heckler in the crowd Walter yelled, “Excuse me! Did the ticket say Jeff, his friends, and a drunken asshole in the crowd?” This was met with a huge round of applause.

Concert photos

Jeff Dunham performs with his buddy Walter

Dunham brought out a hat to put on Walter that made him look like Frankenstein, which will be used in the upcoming special.

Bubba J was the next one out of the box and dressed as a vampire. Bubba J is a beer-drinking redneck that Dunham describes as “white trash trailer park”, and whom Dunham uses for humor centered on such stereotypes. To this end, he frequently does jokes involving Bubba J’s love of drinking beer, NASCAR, and his low intelligence.

Dunham asked Bubba if he ever trick or treated as a kid. Bubba said it was difficult to do when all the houses could just pull away when you rang the bell. Bubba made sure everyone knew he was mobile home schooled.

Peanut came out dressed in a Batman costume, calling himself Bat Nut, that’s about the time the spot lights were shut down due to threatening weather.

Peanut is purple-skinned, and the bad kid of the bunch. He’s hyperactive and enjoys giving Dunham a hard time, even more so than his other characters. Peanut was born on a small Micronesian island. Dunham met Peanut in Florida and has been with him ever since. At least that’s how the story goes.

Talking about his secret weapon, Peanut explained that he has the nutterang and keeps it stored next to the bat pole ““ probably shouldn’t have brought the kids and Grandma.

There were several times the kids wanted to know what Dunham meant when he said one thing, or another. Look it up on the internet, was our standard response. Sadly, after searching the internet the next day, they had even more questions, as did Grandma.

Peanut battled it out with Jalapeno-on-a-stick and also brought out a miniature dummy of Dunham who was dressed as the loser, with a large L pasted on his forehead.

Achmed the dead terrorist finally made it out of the box. Achmed is the most controversial of all Dunham’s wooden wonders, and is a skeleton of a bumbling suicide bomber.

Achmed spend a very brief amount of time on stage and a number of people were upset that he didn’t say “Silence! I keel you” once during his performance.

Dunham puts on a hilarious show. I felt this performance was a little flat and not quite up to past shows that he’s put on. Maybe it’s the new material, or maybe it’s his posse’s just getting older. Regardless it was still a great evening out with the kids . . . and Grandma.

Dunham’s shows aren’t for everyone and contain a lot of racist remarks, stereotyping, and more, so beware.

There’s still some great summer concerts left for Thunder Valley Casino’s Summer Concert Series.

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