Entertainment | Humor | After Dinner Speaker
There are many sides to the comedic genius of Jeff Dunham, who has risen in recent years to become a genuine entertainment phenomenon with an international 360-degree reach that includes record-breaking television specials, staggering DVD sales over 4 million, 360 million views on You Tube, a current international tour expected to gross $45 million, his own merchandise company that enjoys brisk sales of nearly 50 Dunham items, and a publishing deal that will see the publication of his first book in 2009.
Ever-increasing legions of devoted and highly active fans savor Mr. Dunham's concert appearances, TV shows, DVDs, CDs and You Tube clips over and over. His widespread fame has led him to sign a multi-platform deal with Comedy Central to encompass all areas of entertainment, including television, DVDs, a stand-up special, consumer products partnership, and a 60-city Comedy Central Live stand-up tour. There is no wonder why Time Magazine calls him "the most popular stand-up comedian in the U.S."
It's all because Jeff Dunham is not just one of the funniest humans on the planet but the ringleader of a cast of comedic characters of his own creation like Walter the grumpy retiree; the beer-swilling, NASCAR loving and resolutely redneck Bubba J; the furry and manic Peanut; Jose Jalapeno, the spicy pepper from south of the border; and the bumbling skeletal Achmed the Dead Terrorist. Taking his cues from the stuff of everyday life, people he and we all know, and the world around us, he invests his suitcase posse of sidekicks with such believable and lovable personality as they banter, quip, and interact that audiences frequently forget that the characters are crafted by his own hand and comedic brilliance.
Mr. Dunham's most recent self-produced Comedy Central program, A Very Special Christmas Special, drew 6.6 million viewers on its premiere airing to become the channel's most-watched program ever, following in the wake of top ratings for his previous Comedy Central specials Arguing with Myself (April 2006) and A Spark of Insanity (September 2007). When they hit the home market on DVD, all three almost immediately earned multiple platinum sales awards, with his holiday special achieving quadruple-platinum sales of 400,000 in a mere 10 days and in less than six weeks becoming his third DVD to sell more than a million copies. Spark of Insanity was also the most popular DVD in customer reviews on Amazon of 2008.
In 2008 Jeff Dunham sold out headlining major venue shows at the prestigious and star-studded Comedy Festival in Las Vegas and the Just For Laughs festival in Toronto, and in 2009 he made his first performing visit to Europe, selling out arenas in London, Stockholm, Oslo, Norway, and Copenhagen. 2009 will also mark his first full tour of Canada.
After leaving his hometown in Dallas, Texas, Mr. Dunham relentlessly toured comedy clubs for years, renewing a lost art that he has taken to new levels of finesse and technique with hilarious results. Frequent guest appearances on The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman as well as a host of other TV programs also primed the pump. But what has been instrumental in launching him to record new levels of comedy success over the last two years has been the strong bond he has forged with his fans, who not just eagerly await and consume his latest multimedia offerings but avidly tout them to family, and friends, as well as the world at large on the Internet.
Fan postings of his routines on "You Tube" abetted the grassroots surge of Jeff Dunham's popularity and awareness that resulted in ever-increasing millions of online views that helped launch him and his comedic cohorts into the stratosphere of contemporary entertainment. According to Visible Measures, an online video view measurement firm, his "Achmed the Dead Terrorist" clip is the 4th most watched video across the internet with 196.5 million worldwide views as well as #2 in clips on You Tube that viewers have added as a favorite.
In 2008 Mr. Dunham also released his first CD, Don't Come Home For Christmas, which jumped to #1 in comedy sales and #6 in overall CD sales in preorders alone. His merchandise operation enjoys gross sales in the millions of dollars of his 42 items of merchandise--including t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, character dolls, Christmas ornaments, posters, DVDs, CDs, character etched iPods and now even Dunham Cellars wine--at his shows, on his website, and via 150 Hastings stores in 21 states. And he is now poised to also make his mark in the literary world this year when Dutton Books publishes his as yet untitled memoir, which will also include commentary from his hilarious characters.
Jeff Dunham's three specials have been released on television, DVD, and mobile platforms in Canada, UK, Benelux, Scandinavia, Italy, France, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The DVD of A Very Special Christmas Special topped the Danish entertainment chart and Spark of Insanity hit the Top 5 of the overall DVD charts in Holland (#2) and South Africa (#5). Spark of Insanity is the most viewed show ever on Comedy Central Holland, and the only two titles by an American in the Top 20 of the U.K. comedy DVD charts are both Jeff Dunham releases.
Mr. Dunham has achieved all that and more by keeping many millions around the globe laughing heartily with his sharp yet always humane and lovable humor, which has resulted on such character catchphrases as Achmed's "Silence! I will keel you!" and Jose Jalapeno's "On a steek!" becoming embedded in the contemporary lexicon. And he has done it as an independent business entity that creates, produces, and finances his TV specials/DVDs, merchandise, tours, and more, and through a highly interactive relationship via his website and an email list to rival any in the entertainment industry.
Jeff Dunham's hometown Dallas Morning News declares him "easily one of the funniest stand-up comics alive" and Slate.com hails him as "the country's most popular stand-up comedian." Forbes Magazine named him in their most power celebrity list this year, noting "Dunham has suddenly become a cash machine...making him the third-highest-earning comedian in America behind Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock. He had the top-grossing comedy tour in North America in 2008, and has performed 145 shows since last June. His DVDs have sold more than 4 million copies." And when his fellow comics and friends like Jay Leno says, "Jeff Dunham really is the best there is," and David Letterman praises, "tremendous talent, great star!," it's no understatement indeed.
"They're not coming out to see a ventriloquist, they're coming out because they love the characters. As a standup comic, it is my job to make the majority of people laugh, and I truly believe that comedy is the last true form of free speech and that laughter can heal many wounds."--Jeff Dunham