The most recent Jeff Dunham special, Minding the Monsters, debuted on Comedy Central on Sunday night and went on sale as a DVD on Tuesday. Perhaps you already knew that. Most likely, Dunham’s followers did.
Don’t start debating with me about whether a ventriloquist can be seen on a similar basis as stand-up comedians because you don’t know that Dunham is possibly the most successful comic working today in the world.
Furthermore, the purpose of this essay is not that. It’s true that Dunham makes millions of dollars each year through the sale of tickets, his puppet products, and other things, and has been doing so for a while. Sale of 7 million DVDs. Five hundred million! viewings on YouTube.
The entire Jeff Dunham story, though, is probably unknown to you. An in-depth look at Dunham’s life and career was provided in a two-hour Biography documentary that aired last year. Even ardent Dunham supporters might not be aware of some of these facts about the man whose special garnered Comedy Central’s highest-ever viewership.
- According to Slate.com, Dunham is “America’s favourite comic.” He is the highest-grossing stand-up comedian in North America and one of the most popular performers in Europe, according to Pollstar.
- He was given up for adoption at the age of three months by Joyce and Howard Dunham, a real estate appraiser, and was born Jeffrey Dunham on April 18, 1962, in Dallas, Texas.
- His interest in ventriloquism was piqued in 1970 when his parents gave him the dummy for Edgar Bergen’s well-known character Mortimer Snerd and a know-how album for Christmas.
- In the fourth grade, he decided to pursue his dream of being a professional ventriloquist and began honing his craft in front of the mirror by copying Edgar Bergen’s performances.
- From the sixth grade on, he regularly attended the Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, location of the Vent Haven ConVENTion, an annual gathering of ventriloquists. The organisers had to designate Dunham a “retired champion” after a few summers since other players were intimidated by his presence.
- He made everyone at school nervous because he kept uttering things they could never get away from. He came to the realisation that a fool could make a joke or hurl an insult that he was too afraid to do. He made fun of his professors and mocked a wealthy businessman in the crowd.
- He began trotting about with his dummy for any employer that would hire him while he was still in school. He performed at churches, worked as a performer at Six Flags during the summer, appeared in ads for a Datsun dealership, and posed each year for his school’s yearbook.
- He set himself a 10-year goal after graduating from college in 1980 to appear on “The Tonight Show Starring Johny Carson.” Even though he was heralded as a future star, his ambitions were considered lofty at the time for a comic.
- While obtaining his communication degree at Baylor University, he was performing up to 100 private concerts a year while travelling the nation on the weekends. He had a yearly salary of about $70,000.
- He struggled despite honing his performance at comedy clubs after graduating in 1986. When the club’s emcee repeatedly cancelling his performance, he once left “Catch a Rising Star,” a comedy club in New York.
- In late 1988, he relocated from Texas to Los Angeles in search of success and discovered that the humour in his act needed improvement. Additionally, he understood that ventriloquists were not acceptable in the comic industry.
- Mike Lacey, who owns the Hermosa Beach bar “The Comedy & Magic Club,” gave Dunham a regular spot as a result of their friendship. He improved his act by veering away from G-Rated content and toward more adult-oriented themes, with some help from Bill Engvall.
- Dunham was set to appear on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” at the end of 1988, but the taping was postponed on that day. He was informed that he wasn’t ready for the performance.
- He was given the opportunity to sit on Carson’s couch as a sign of acceptance on April 6, 1990, fulfilling his ambition of performing on the Jonny Carson show. This, in his opinion, represents a significant turning point in his career.
- His struggle persisted through the end of the 1990s as the audience for his television appearances decreased. He had trouble keeping up with the bills for his large family.
- To make up for the loss of television shows, he started performing in more than 200 club performances annually. Additionally, he kept a database of fans and used question cards for the audience.
- The ‘American Comedy Awards’ honoured Dunham as the funniest male stand-up comedian in 1998.
- His appearances on “The Best Damn Sports Show Period” in 2002 and “Comedy Central Presents” in 2003, while successful, fell short. Because they believed he wasn’t good enough for them, they gave him less screen time.
- He made the risky decision to produce his own comedy DVD in 2005, and on April 11, 2006, a stage performance titled “Arguing with Myself” that was recorded in Santa Ana, California, was made public. More than two million DVDs were sold after it was successfully broadcast on “Comedy Central.”
- His second special, “Jeff Dunham: Spark of Insanity,” which was recorded at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C., and featured the introduction of his most contentious character, “Achmed the Dead Terrorist,” became a phenomenon on the internet. Dunham became famous because of this.
- The Christmas Special for the fictional character “Achmed the Dead Terrorist,” which debuted on Comedy Central on November 16, 2008, attracted 6.6 million viewers. Comedy Central’s highest-rated programme ever was the special’s premiere.
- Don’t Come Home for Christmas, Dunham’s debut album was released on November 4th, 2008, and featured the song “Jingle Bombs,” an Achmed parody of “Jingle Bells.”
- He agreed to a multi-platform contract with Comedy Central in March 2009, which called for a fourth stand-up special, a product partnership, a tour of 60 cities, and a television show titled “The Jeff Dunham Show,” which debuted on October 22, 2009. After one season, the programme was cancelled.
- Jeff Dunham: Controlled Chaos, his fourth special, made its Comedy Central debut on September 25, 2011, and he went on to debut three more. All Over the Map, “Unhinged in Hollywood,” and “Minding the Monsters.”
- Only Dunham has twice been recognised as “Ventriloquist of the Year.” In Comedy Central’s Stand-Up Showdown in 2008, he was selected as the Top Comic by the audience.
- Due to complaints that it represented all Muslims as terrorists, an advertisement using his character Achmed the Dead Terrorist was prohibited by the South African Advertising Standard Company. Dunham said that he would think about renaming the character Achmed “Bill.”
- He released his autobiography, “All By My Selves: Walter, Peanut, Achmed, and Me,” in November 2010. Earlier in 2003, a book titled “Dear Walter” was released. It had questions from the audience and the performers’ responses.
- He married Florida’s Paige Brown in May 1994 and adopted her daughter Bree after meeting her at the Comedy Corner. Ashlyn and Kenna, two daughters born to the couples, were also a blessing. They parted ways in 2008.
- He wed Audrey Murdick, a nutritionist, bodybuilder, and personal trainer, on October 12, 2012. James Jeffrey and Jack Steven are their twin boys’ names.
- Dunham enjoys restoring antiques as a hobby in addition to creating his own dummies. He also enjoys building and flying his own model aircraft using Rotorway helicopter kits.