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Dunham: This Animation Thing is 'Brutal'

21 Mar, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey

Jeff Dunham

LOS ANGELES — Think being a ventriloquist and stand-up comedian is hard work? Try animation.

“A lot of people don’t realize what all goes into making a movie, especially an animation,” said Jeff Dunham, discussing the Blu-ray Disc and DVD release of Achmed Saves America, the first-ever animation from the comedian. “There’s so many decisions you have to make, deciding on every color, what every expression is going to look like, finding all the right voices, picking the scenery. I used to be the one auditioning, and now I’m making the decisions. I don’t take it to heart anymore when I’m turned down for a part.

“It’s a challenge I never imagined, such a brutal process. The most important thing was keeping it funny, and make sure people want to watch it again.”

Achmed Saves America follows Dunham’s favorite puppet invention, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, as he attempts to destroy a small American town and all its “infidels.” Paramount Home Media Distribution released the Comedy Central title March 18.

Dunham chose to make a film about Achmed not only because he’s perhaps Dunham’s most-beloved creation, but also because Achmed was what really allowed Dunham’s career to take off overseas.

“He broke me out beyond the United States,” Dunham said. “When he came along, it was the perfect storm: the DVD market was huge, YouTube was becoming more than something for kids. The time and place for the humor from Achmed was perfect, and other countries started responding, ordering my DVDs.

“His humor skirts that edge: ‘Is this OK, or is it not OK?’ And I think that’s what made him popular. Here’s this guy on stage with a dead terrorist. ‘Is he nuts?!’” Dunham laughed. “We push the edge a little bit, but we’ve made this something the whole family can enjoy.”

For the disc release, Dunham insisted that as many bonus features as possible be included, something his live show home entertainment releases have done well with in the past.

“That’s something I’ve always emphasized with my live DVDs is that you get a little something extra, more than the show, because you may have already seen it on TV,” Dunham said. He said the voiceover session featurette is his favorite among the bonuses included with Achmed Saves America. “It’s like seeing a DJ for the first time, someone you’ve listened to for five years in the morning, and it’s different when you see them. ‘That voice is not that face!’”

The bonus features also include a tour of the animation studio, offering a 101 lesson in the process of animation, Dunham said, as well as an original script reading.

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