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Ventriloquist Dunham Moves Shtick to Comedy Central

24 Mar, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Jeff Dunham

Ventriloquism is in hot demand.

Comedy Central said it signed veteran Jeff Dunham and his characters, Walter, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, Peanut, Bubba J and Jose Jalapeno on a Stick, to a multiyear deal that includes DVDs, consumer products, a 60-city comedy tour, and stand-up TV special.

Dunham's 2008 stand-up special, “Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special,” drew 6.6 million viewers and stands as the most-watched telecast in Comedy Central's history.

By comparison, the infamous showdown between “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart and Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s “Mad Money,” attracted just 2.3 million viewers on Comedy Central.

Dunham’s A Very Special Christmas Special DVD from Image Entertainment hit quadruple platinum (sales of over 400,000 units) in its first two weeks. His previous DVD, Spark of Insanity, was the top-rated disc by consumers on Amazon in 2008.

His CD album, Don't Come Home for Christmas, went to No. 1 on the iTunes CD sales chart as well as Top 10 on Billboard's independent chart.

“Who else but Comedy Central would give a microphone to a dead terrorist in prime time?” quipped Dunham regarding the deal.

Image recently filmed ventriloquist and 2007 “America’s Got Talent” winner Terry Fator for the Las Vegas headliner’s first DVD and Blu-ray Disc release slated for September.

Recently, in a move that foretold Dunham’s move, Fator told Home Media Magazine he considered Dunham a mentor but nonetheless looked forward to surpassing Dunham’s DVD sales.

“It’s like anything, if I was playing racquetball I would want to beat him,” Fator said. “I would love to outsell Jeff as a friendly competitor.”

Comedy Central is planning an original series based on Dunham’s characters to premiere during the first quarter 2010, with a one-hour original stand-up special to air in early fall 2010.

Both the series and special, together with outtakes from the comedy tour, will be released on DVD and Blu-ray.

Comedy Central DVDs are distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment.

Dunham is slated to be a guest on the “Late Show With David Letterman” April 24.

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