Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham is one of the most watched performers in history. His DVDs go platinum, his TV specials have broken records, and a YouTube clip of Dunham and his puppet Achmed the Dead Terrorist has had more than 115 million views. That means Dunham's routine is just a little more popular than Lady Gaga's "Just Dance" video and just a little less popular than a laughing baby clip titled "Hahaha."
"There is just something funny about this little inanimate object coming to life and abusing the people around them," Dunham has said in an attempt to explain how he and his puppets became a certifiable phenomenon.
Of course not everybody thinks Dunham is funny. Critics savaged his short-lived 2009 series on Comedy Central and Blue Collar Comedy producer J.P. Williams once complained that Dunham's material wouldn't be very funny at all if it weren't for the puppets. Even the puppets have been criticized for representing a variety of negative ethnic stereotypes like Achmed the Dead Terrorist and Jose Jalapeño on a Stick, a sleepy-eyed Mexican chili pepper with a very small sombrero.
Dunham, often compared to insult king Don Rickles, has laughed off the criticism, noting that Peanut, his best-known puppet, is a purple "Woozle" from Micronesia, Walter is a gas-passing old white dude, and Bubba's a good-ol'-boy who loves NASCAR because it's a "sport that's easy to watch if you're hammered."
Jeff Dunham at the DeSoto Civic Center, Thursday, July 15, 8 p.m. Tickets are $40.