The aspect of “The Jeff Dunham Show” has a tattered perception of its time. After premiering to big fanfare and good ratings, it seemed to lose traction. Now watching the DVD of the episodes, the consequence looking at it is that it really needed to have time to get going. The same was true of “The Chappelle Show”. One needs to find a rhythm to truly make this all work.
The first episodes are a balance of trying to find out what the essential DNA is of the program. On an ongoing basis, it is the competition and veritable odds of the characters Jeff brings to bear in the form of Peanut, Bobby J and Sweet Daddy D that truly makes the difference with his most popular creation Walter providing cynical commentary throughout the whole affair. Some specific sketches hit the mark while others hit the wayside but brilliance is a fleeting and finicky customer.
The first of the sketches that truly hits the mark goes against the grain of what Chappelle was good at which was the interaction with white folks. Here, in comparison, Sweet Daddy D brings Dunham to an old school barber shop and tells him to get out. The reality that Dunham himself has related [to this journalist] about the show is the fact that people forget they are talking to a puppet. You completely get that feeling within this sketch as the locals give their brother a true taste of what Dunham needs to do to attract the African American audience. It walks the line but knows it through and through.
The second sketch of note is Peanut who seems like he is on uppers anyway doing an infomercial for his new energy drink “Neow”. It has that fly-by mentality and works because you tend to think about Peter Jackson’s “Meet The Feebles” where all the puppets were going completely amuck. There is a taste here of that anarchy.
Bobby J, the redneck who never stops drinking, has a great sketch called “Drunk Proofing”. The little guy who gets squeamish when he goes to the doctor is out of his mind anyway and tries to make life a little easier for those around him despite the fact that he falls down stairs. Just as that idea is perfectly suited for J, Walter’s segment giving relationship advice in an almost speed dating lightning round works wonders.
The last intention of mention is Achmed, the Dead Terrorist, who is the newest addition in Dunham’s arsenal. When the character is doing the simple terrorist act, it doesn’t work as well but when he runs into situations he doesn’t know (like karate and adult book stores), that is when the comedy shines. Granted it is simply an unconscious reaction but it is within this corner where he earns the most laughs.
Though short lived, “The Jeff Dunham Show” showed the abilities of the man and the possibilities within this structure. Ultimately ratings determine the victor though it is interesting to see the plug pulled on this one so quickly. The show was not groundbreaking television but it was something different and the diversity of the DVD shows that. While the deleted Sweet Daddy D sketch missed the mark and some of the bloopers reveal too much “behind the curtain, the DVD itself shows the man’s talents on a different angle medium. Out of 5, I give it a 2 1/2.