Jeff Dunham Takes His Act to New Levels in Latest Special29 Jul, 2011 By: Ashley Ratcliff
When ventriloquist Jeff Dunham hits the stage, there’s no telling what — or who, rather — he’s got up his sleeve.
It could be crotchety old Walter, beer-loving hillbilly Bubba J, furry screwball Peanut, the lovable Latino José Jalapeño on a Stick or failed suicide bomber Achmed the Dead Terrorist.
These beloved dummies, even some new ones, come out to play in Jeff Dunham: Controlled Chaos, the comedian’s first special since 2008’s Spark of Insanity. Paramount Home Entertainment will release the stand-up act on DVD ($16.99) and Blu-ray Disc ($21.99) Sept. 27 (order date Aug. 16). The disc will contain edited and unedited versions.
“I’m more proud of this special than I have been of any other because I literally started from scratch on this one. … With [Controlled Chaos] I’ve stayed in stride with Spark of Insanity and maybe even upped it a little bit, I hope,” Dunham said.
Dunham’s newest dummy, Achmed’s conversely effeminate son, AJ, makes his debut in the special, proving to be a likeable character with potential, the comedian said.
“These other characters I’ve been working with for decades, and when I come up with something new, it’s not easy,” Dunham explained. “I develop a relationship with these characters, and that only comes from time and hours on stage. I think AJ turned out pretty well.”
However, Achmed is the character that helped Dunham reach international audiences, and almost is synonymous with the comedian. One of Dunham’s Achmed clips on YouTube ranks as one of the most all-time viewed online videos.
While it’s likely that Achmed is Dunham’s most-liked character for these reasons, he said choosing one over the other is like naming a favorite child.
“When you come to the show, though, Peanut is the one that steals everybody’s hearts,” he said. “Then again, Walter has been on television with me for years, so I’m kind of a chameleon. Whatever the audience is digging, I’m digging, too.”
With 6 million units sold, Dunham, who Time Magazine called “the most powerful comedian in the United States,” credits DVD for introducing his fan base to the dummies and increasing his audience.
“People pass around the DVDs or give them to each other as gifts,” he said. “If people like it then they usually want to come to see the live thing, too, because there’s nothing like the live experience.”
Controlled Chaos is chock full of bonus material, which gives viewers an inside look at how the entire show comes together, from making the dummies to performing across the globe. Among the extras are a “Bubba J Winery Tour” featurette, outtakes, photo shoot footage and more.
Dunham expects the “Making of the Achmedmobile” featurette to be most popular.
“The story is, Achmed got famous and it all went to his head, and what did he do? He got a hotrod made with his image — a big giant skull — on top of the engine,” he said, adding that Achmedmobile toys should be out in time for Christmas.
Also coming to retail is a 38-inch-tall ventriloquist dummy resembling Dunham. In Controlled Chaos, Peanut describes it as the ugliest dummy he could possibly find.
“I’m pretty excited about that because there hasn’t been a toy ventriloquist dummy on the market — a new one of any significance — in decades,” Dunham said. “Now there’s a demand for it.”