Why is Jeff Dunham so popular? You be the critic!

Okay, so The Jeff Dunham Show premiered this week to become the highest-rated first-episode of any show in the history of Comedy Central in the coveted 18-49 demo. That’s right, the same Comedy Central that brings you The Colbert Report and South Park. Both, upstaged by a ventriloquist with spikey hair.

And Comedy Central says the ventriloquist’s show, featuring fan-fave characters like grumpy-old-man Walter and Achmed the Dead Terrorist, was the “most-watched show on cable for Thursday” among total viewers.

Yet whenever we here at EW.com post anything about Dunham, the majority of the response is pretty negative. Um, make that really, sarcastically negative.

Me, I have an irrational fondness for ventriloquists. Every year I try to con a different EW editor into letting me go to the annual “vent” convention in Kentucky (so far without success). Clearly, I am not an objective observer. Thus, I am turning the job over to you on this one.

Watch this clip:

Now: Tell me why you think Jeff Dunham is so popular.

Or tell me why you don’t find him funny.

And those of you who are actually Dunham fans, defend your man.

All comments welcome below. Thanks.

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Comments (151 total) Add your comment
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  • BMARSH

    I hate to cite another website on EW, but I think Slate’s article on Dunham summed up perfectly why he is a hack.

    • Chris
    • CZ111

      a lot of people think Will Ferrell is funny too…very, very strange.

      • dave

        Yeah well Will Ferrell doesn’t need a puppet to be funny. And also, i thought ventriloquism died like 60 years ago?

  • Kyle

    Jeff Dunham is a very funny man and he brings life to these puppets, he gives these puppets personalities, and gives us details about the puppets. He is a funny guy!!!

  • JT

    This does surprise me. I did like his 1 and half special. But, didn’t think he could sustain a show, let alone break a record. Maybe its the Jay Leno effect. Appeal to the masses.

    • Nan

      Transforms 2 is the highest grossing movie because people want to watch Megan Fox jiggle. To which I say, to each his own.

      But I gotta tell ya, I think Dunham’s specials are hilarious. I’m kinda iffy on whether or not the show will last. I can’t watch it because my Thursdays are booked.

  • Herr

    Because people are idiots? I don’t know. They like easy jokes and don’t like to think too hard.

    I mean, we live in a world where Transformers 2 is the highest grossing movie in the year despite being godawful.

    • dave

      Herr, you took the words right out of my mouth. There are a lot of simple-minded folk who like to be spoon-fed. Look no further than the highest-rated comedy on TV, Two and a Half Men. That show is a huge success, despite being probably the worst sitcom on television right now (and yes, I have watched several episodes to verify my claim). All while intelligent comedies like Arrested Development get canceled. Yup, people are idiots. Most of them anyways.

      • To Dave

        So if I like “Arrested Development”, I’m intelligent but if I like “Two and a Half Men”, I am an idiot. What if I like them both?

      • Tarc

        I’m with you Dave. Transformers 2 was quantifiable terrible on every level (even if you check your brain, it was BAD). And I was shocked that Two & A Half Men won an award recently; from the acting to the acripts, to the gross and inept attempt at humor, it’s a vile.

      • dave

        Well, I guess it kind of depends on what you really think of Two and a Half Men. Do you watch it because it’s sort of like comfort food for you? There are certain things I might watch while knowing the quality is bad. For example, the current season of SNL has been pretty lousy. But watching SNL has become a habit for me. I watch it, but I recognize and admit that it’s not very good. If that’s how you feel about Two and a Half Men, then I wouldn’t consider you an idiot. But, if you are going to try to argue that it is one of the best comedies on TV and that it’s smart and very funny, then I would consider you an idiot because Two and a Half Men is none of those things. Clear?

      • george

        so watching something you know is bad and continuing to watch it anyway to you seems particularly brilliant? Maybe you are so brilliant that this computes for you, but if it is lousy….why do you watch? Hope you don’t get paid to be a critic!

      • Mike

        You call people idiots and then say “ANYWAYS”. The pot calls the kettle black. “ANYWAYS” The guys stuff is not that bad you want bad try Carlos Mencia or God forbid you shoul be so unfortunate as to be exposed to Tim and Eric on Adult Swim, anyone who can watch these two truly is an idiot. People are just like sheep these days, it’s frightening.

    • Miranda Adria

      So, despite the fact that I am an educated individual, enjoying one show makes me an idiot. The only idiot (an quite frankly, the only jackass) here is you, my friend. Do not assume the level of one’s intellect simply because they happen to enjoy something you do not.

  • John

    Or maybe because Ventriloquism is REALLY F*CKING HARD and people get that. My roommates and I HOWLED at his specials in college. It’s a rare skill, he IS funny, and unlike Leno, his squareness actually makes him hip.

    • Chris

      Ventriloquism doesn’t necessarily equate to funniness. Sure, he is skilled at it, but I don’t find him funny because of it. If anything, it’s a distraction to keep the focus off his tired jokes. Many of which can be construed as offensive, if one is inclined to listen to em. If yer gonna be offensive at least be funny, and current. Don’t use the same broad and bland material from 10, 15 years ago.

      • Tarc

        Comedy being subjective, I find that the way Dunham plays with *why* these jokes are funny is what I like about him (rather than the jokes themslves). Let’s face it, 90% of the so-called comedy out there is either a d_ick joke, a sex joke, or about bowel movements. If you’ve heard one, you’ve heard them all.

    • Bill

      Guess what else is really hard… Real stand-up comedy! No gimmicks, no props, no crutches.
      You get that it’s not really the dummies talking right?
      There’s something very disturbing about a grown man playing with big dolls every night.

      • lorna

        but he makes it so that the puppets acctually get a personality of their own. I sometimes do forget that they are puppets. It is hard to be able to create a different personality for each of those puppets and make them work. He switches back and forth between him and the puppet, and it is amazing that he hasn’t been called out for moving his lips.

        Maybe watch the show and you will see.

    • davy

      his jokes are so predictable and his characters are either cliche stereotypes or things i think 6-year-olds would find funny. just having a talent that’s hard doesn’t make up for that. plus he’s obviously racist

      • Miranda Adria

        I think you need to worry about your terrible grammar before anything else, buddy.

      • Mike

        It is so fashionable to call people racist these days people are just monkey see monkey do. can anyone out there have a point of view that was not learned from TV commercials and daytime talk show jerks.

      • Thomas

        I have seen all of his movies. Ihavent seen his show. Bothe my parents have seen both. They love his movies and hate his show.
        My mother is a genuis according to the IQ test and my father is nnot to far behind.
        They both are very logical people.
        Now to the point.
        1) to call him racist is just calling him politically incorrect, and lets face it anybody who has an opinion about another race is racist. Almost all of the funny jokes out there are either politically incorrect or racist.
        2)Saying “you heard them once youve heard them all” is most of the time true, but having a puppet say itis a lot funnier tan having a human say it. Also, most of his skits are original especially when he talks about real life. Thats what most commedians these days talk about anyway, real life situations especially when it comes to politics. And to say he is “predictable” and “cliche”, why dont you give it a try and see if you can be half as funny as he is?

  • Amy

    I’m so glad Herr told us that Dunham and Transformers aren’t any good and that the large audiences that like them are idiots… or else I would have had to come up with my OWN opinion. Phew. Missed a bullet on that one!

    Personally, I think Dunham is great. I watched his show, and while it wasn’t as funny as his live performances, it was worth the twenty minutes I invested in it.

    And just to put it out there – I also thought Transformers 2 was good, but then apparently I, and the millions of people who apparently agree with me, am just an idiot. Somehow I think I’ll survive.

    • richardfoc

      You people aren’t idiots…you are simple and easily amused. I’m glad to see you owning that.

      • court

        here here richardfoc! totally with you

      • Miranda Adria

        I beg to differ. Don’t generalize an entire group of people.

    • Chris

      I’m sorry, I know art is subjective, but some movies are just objectively bad. Transformers 2 is one of those movies.

  • Zach

    I agree with Herr. I’d say 90% of Americans are complete idiots who like easy crap spoon feed to them. I wake up every morning ashamed of my country’s taste in entertainment.

    • Matt1

      Declaring another person an “idiot” because you disagree with them or don’t understand their perspective on things is completely ignorant.
      People have their own likes and dislikes, it’s what makes us individuals in the first place.
      Personally, I think the Godfather is an overrated film. I realize I’m in the minority, but it is my opinion and I’m entitled to it. Godfather is my dads favorite movie, but I would never consider him an “idiot” just because I disagree with him.
      I like Dunhams brand of comedy and I appreciate the skill involved in being a ventriloquist, I thought Transformers 2 had its moments. I don’t believe that those opinions of mine make me an “idiot” nor do I feel that way about people who disagree with those opinions.
      (Except for people who don’t like the Lakers… You ARE all idiots!)

      Just Kidding

      • richardfoc

        You think “The Godfather” is overrated and that Dunham is funny and really good at not making his mouth move when he talks? I’m afraid you are proving the idiot comments.

      • Tarc

        Well, I loathe the Godfather (total crap; beautifully shot, but total crap), and find Dunham amusing, and I’ve got a 160 IQ. What’s your point? The fact is, most American are idiots, and the fact that they are quite proud of it is what makes it a problem (and, thankfully fairly unique in the world).

      • Zach

        Well, I think declaring the Godfather is over rated and liking Transformers 2 kinda just proved my point.

      • Zach

        Plus Tarc. Book smart and good taste have nothing to do with each other. There are tons of people out there who are book smart. Doesn’t mean they know a good movie from Adam.

      • fiveagainstone

        What about if you hate both The Godfather and Jeff Dunham?

      • Jeff

        Online IQ tests don’t count as real. Sorry.

      • lorna

        Hey evryone know says that Avatar is the best movie ever. I went to see it and all I say was an anti-american movie, with a script written by a tree-hugger, with a “Dances With Wolves” storyline in an Avatar world. AND NO ONE COULD UNDERSTAND WHAT I WAS SAYING!!!!!

    • Mike

      Thankyou Zach I too am ashamed of my country. I mean is Jay Z really the best we have to open for a world series game really? really? The future of our people is in the toilet.

    • CristinaBarredo

      mirandaadria–you are full out it! Stop being such a hypercritic. And whats up with attacking those that are not prefect spellers? You have a problem taste in humor and you don’t see people contantly f****** with you. You’re not our mommy and or teacher.

  • mkk

    Remember that movie Idiocracy where Luke Wilson is accidentally frozen for 500 years while society has progressively gotten dumber? He wakes up in a world where the #1 Movie is called A$$ and it features 2 hrs of a giant butt on screen farting…it won the oscar for best screenplay….Um I think thats the phenomenon we are seeing here

    • Laura

      mkk, you are absolutely correct. I actually own a copy of “Idiocracy” and whenever I wonder at the state of popculture, I toss that in to remind me of what’s happening to the world. I don’t think that Jeff Dunham is funny-the only funny puppets or puppet characters are Muppets. (But that could be my sense of child-like wonder still…)

  • Jen

    I took my dad to a Dunham performance because he really liked some tv special. I found that most of his jokes were pretty offensive, bordering on racist. My dad agreed and now neither of us like him.

    • Thomas

      let me ask you some thing do you have anykind of opinoin about another race? are you stereotypical?
      if you answer no then you are lying, everyone has an opinion about some one else no matter what. If you answered yes ten you are being hypocritical, and should rethink about those kinds ideas.

      • Chris

        Hey, Thomas? You are on to something here, but you made a wrong turn just when you were about to say something insightful.

        In one way, you are right. We are all racist! That’s because we keep hearing the same stereotypes repeated over and over until they are ingrained into every fiber of our being.

        By acknowledging this, you’re actually one step ahead of most Americans. However, the proper way to respond to this knowledge is not to say, “Oh, well! Since everybody’s doing it, then it’s not that bad!” No, the decent thing to do would be to try and educate people about these stereotypes and how people like Dunham spread them. That’s not “hypocritical,” that’s doing your best with what you have.

  • Daniel Montgomery

    I’m a huge Jeff Dunham fan — in stand-up! I find his comedy specials hilarious and didn’t know anyone flat-out hated him until I saw the reviews for his show this week. However, I also disliked “The Jeff Dunham Show” premiere. I found it to be an extremely miscalculated use of him and his characters. What works on stage (one-on-one convos between him and his puppets) becomes creepy and irrelevant when the puppets are alone in a shot, or worse, completely separate from Dunham, where his talent as a ventriloquist becomes meaningless. Worse, the sketches themselves were lousy. They should cancel the show and let Dunham save his best material for another stand-up special, because this format doesn’t suit him at all.

  • jeff

    His material is based on la

  • commie

    I agree with the dumbness factor of Americans. Furthermore, whether the show is critically funny or not, Comedy Central made a good decision by developing this show. Idiots dominate the ratings.

  • AC

    I checked out this article because my dad recently recommended him to me. Now I know why. He’s not funny (like my dad), he uses cliched jokes (like my dad), and he’s kind of offensive (like my dad). My dad’s kind of old so I expect that kind of behavior from a man his age who was raised in his small minded generation. This guy? Not so much. The fact that a lot of people tuned in to watch something like this is incredible depressing. No wonder we’re losing quality shows on television. No one wants to think anymore.

    • Thomas

      Im really sorry you feel that way. Unfortuneately you must be the type who likes Siouth Park, and that is the most simple minded and racist cartoon series i have ever run accross. If you watch any other regular commedian on commedy central then you really belong with the mass of idiot americans.

      • Agnieszak

        Learn to spell, simpleton. South Park is brilliant. Don’t confuse their exposure of the rampant racism in our society with them actually being racist. Jeff Denham is a talentless a$$hat with a sh*t eating grin.

  • V doug

    I feel so sorry for those who don’t appreciate his humor. He is just damn funny. If people don’t wanna laugh, that’s their loss.

    • Thomas

      I totally agree with you.

  • Mikey

    Idiots??? His “Dummies” have more personality then the entire realm of reality TV. The real Idiots here are the ones watching The Hills or Dancing With the “has-been” Stars. It takes real talent to have great comic timing.

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