I love ventriloquists. They are a dying breed though. Jeff Dunham is one of the best standard-bearers for this though. He can combine a stand-up comedy act at the beginning of the show and then use his voice to bring a whole different bunch of puppets with vocal ranges to life. He’s got the curmudgeonly Walter, the dead terrorist Achmed, and the hick Bubba. His best one though, is the Micronesian stowaway, Peanut. This video, from his 2006 show, “Arguing With Myself,” shows exactly why.
Peanut starts by complaining about cell phone reception. That delves into his picking on an audience member about his job as a business analyst. Then the segment concludes with his telling about their previous show in Washington, D.C. where he pranked a sign language interpreter by first talking gibberish at one point and then just mouthing things. You don’t see it in this segment, but Dunham caps it off by saying, “The sad thing is… it’s completely true.”
Dunham is so gifted at controlling these puppets. Peanut is such an imp and the way that he is controlled, he looks so lifelike, the way his head moves, his mannerisms. If Dunham hadn’t gone into ventriloquism, I could see him having been a Muppeteer on Sesame Street. He’s that good. Peanut is his most ribald character. He says things that almost nobody else would say. Dunham plays the perfect straight man.
I’m a severely hearing-impaired person and I have to say I thought it was hilarious. Then again, I was watching this on closed-caption and I don’t know sign language. Still, I was laughing so hard. Then again, I love that old Saturday Night Live Weekend Update when Garrett Morris acts as the hard-of-hearing interpreter for Chevy Chase. “Tonight in the news..” “TONIGHT! IN THE NEWS!” I thought I wasn’t going to be able to breathe for 10 minutes after that. So, Peanut’s a little crude. I got over it.
What was your favorite part of the clip? Which Dunham character do you like the most? Be sure to leave a comment below!
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