Last week, the Chumash Casino was abuzz with anticipation as folks took their seats for comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham’s show. To get the audience giggling while they waited, questions for Walter—a cranky old man dummy who says whatever he thinks, no matter how rude, because he just doesn’t give a damn—were posed on two large screens.
An example: Dear Walter: In The Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow asked for a brain, the Tin Man a heart, and the Cowardly Lion courage. What would you ask for?
Walter’s answer: Naked pictures of Dorothy.
The warm up screens had people primed and ready for the real thing. Dunham began his act by explaining a bit about himself and his history with ventriloquism. He had the audience in stitches as he told stories and showed snapshots of himself and his “dolls” throughout his life. Dunham poked fun at himself, too, wondering how he ever got a date considering that every year from 7th to 12th grade, he posed for his yearbook picture with his dummy. We saw the photos; they were hilarious and made this audience member wonder the same thing.
After his stand-up introduction, Dunham brought out the first of his guests, Walter. Walter proceeded to make fun of Oxnard (“I was in the hospital for two days. I had an Oxnard removed from my calf. God, it itched.”); deride the sanctity of marriage; and explain why Vegas is becoming a family vacation spot (“Kids love whores.”).
Next up was Achmed the Dead Terrorist, who covered topics such as Osama bin Laden, Ellen DeGeneres, high school, and Santa Claus. A new character, Achmed Junior (A.J.) was introduced, too, a fop with a British accent and skin on only half of his body — the other side is bones — thanks to his father’s incompetence with explosives.
Dunham ended the show verbally sparring with the hyperactive purple “woozle” Peanut, whose antics and inappropriate observations elicited belly-laughs from the audience. José Jalapeño on a Stick made a brief appearance before Dunham wrapped up the night.
Talking through and with dolls may sound more crazy than funny, but Dunham is so adept at his craft and has such perfect comic timing that he’s managed to successfully bring ventriloquism out of the creepy closet and onto the stand-up stage.
Jeff Dunham’s Controlled Chaos appears Sunday, September 25, at 9 p.m. on Comedy Central. For more information, visit jeffdunham.com.