Ventriloquist, comic Dunham had no 'plan B'
Not so long ago, I was opening for Jeff Dunham at the Pittsburgh Improv, and Dunham was introducing Pittsburgh to his newest character, Achmed the Dead Terrorist. He was a little worried Achmed might be too edgy — “too popular,” is more like it.
I was more worried about Dunham paying someone to stand in line to get him the new $400 iPhone that was just released. Good thing Dunham stayed with his Achmed character. A half billion hits later on YouTube, I think Dunham is doing OK.
Three of his comedy specials are the highest-rated in Comedy Central history. Dunham isn't just nationally famous; he's world-famous, selling out theaters everywhere.
Dunham will be bringing his cast of characters to Pittsburgh on Dec. 6 at the Consol Energy Center as a part of his Disorderly Conduct Tour.
Despite being restricted to voice rest, Dunham was kind enough to answer some questions via email.
Question: How did you know you wanted to be a ventriloquist for a living?
Answer: There was never a plan B. I've been a ventriloquist since the age of 8. All through elementary school, junior high, high school and college, I was performing as a comedian/ventriloquist. I started performing in comedy clubs my freshman year in college. I graduated from Baylor University in 1986 with a bachelor of arts degree in radio/TV/film. I continued the club and college performing until moving to Los Angeles in 1988, when I then pursued the “big time” in comedy. I started headlining all the major clubs throughout the country. In 2006, my first hour-long Comedy Central special aired, followed by three more specials and a bunch of other cool stuff. Here it is, 2013, and we continue to sell out theaters and arenas across the country and around the world. It's all been great fun!
Question: Are there any new characters that you're working on now?
Answers: Achmed Jr. and Little Jeff are the newest part of the team. I try to come up with something every year or two. There's a whole bunch of characters that have come and gone over the years, but the main guys are with me for the long haul. I am definitely scratching my head trying to figure out what the next new thing will be.
Q: How did Achmed the Dead Terrorist help your career?
A: It goes without saying, Achmed certainly has allowed me to break through in places that otherwise might have remained closed for a while. His clips on You Tube took us into high orbit.
Q: Do any of your characters have personal ties to your life?
A: Each character is me, just exaggerated beyond the socially acceptable point for anyone living outside a suitcase.
Comedian Matt Wohlfarth is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Trooper fatally shoots burglary suspect inside Somerset grocery store
- Baldwin-Whitehall teacher charged with assault for hitting male student in chest
- Armed bandit holds up Leechburg gas station
- Allegheny Medical Examiner’s Office responds to Coraopolis train-pedestrian incident
- Steelers offensive line targeting injury-free performance as key
- Two jail inmates died at UPMC Mercy, medical examiner’s office says
- DOJ program goal: Increased trust between law enforcement, community
- Officials envision reinvigorated Allegheny County Airport
- Westmoreland used car dealers indicted in fraud
- New Kensington Megan’s Law offender jailed on new child porn charges
- Struggling Pirates SS Mercer finding himself out on infield’s left side