Weekender

REVIEW: For the tolerant many, Jeff Dunham brings the funny

It isn’t an easy feat to fill a venue as large as the Bryce Jordan Center; the arena seats 16,000 and it looked to be almost completely full Friday night. But it didn’t take long to realize how comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham managed to accumulate such a large audience.

The man is funny. He’s likable. And he isn’t afraid to throw a slew of Jerry Sandusky jokes into his act. But why should he be afraid? Dunham is well-established and wildly popular; Pollstar shows he is consistently one of the best-selling comedians in North America. And as the audience was informed during the introduction at Friday's show, 2009's "The Jeff Dunham Show" was rated the most watched premier in Comedy Central's history (although the show was canceled after one season).

Dunham opened his act with a video montage of his past stand-up. I was surprised to learn he has been in the business since the 1980s. The montage featured hysterical school photos dating back to grade school. In every picture all the way up through high school, he is posing with a puppet.

The comedian first introduced cranky, bitter old man Walter, with his copious amount of wife-bashing, and initiated the first of many unbelievably well-received and heavily applauded Sandusky scandal jokes.

The dimwitted Bubba J. continued to draw constant laughter from the audience with jokes about his new job as a security guard and his love of beer.

It was the appearance of Dunham’s most notorious character -- Achmed the Dead Terrorist -- that was perhaps the funniest part of the show. There isn’t a Dunham fan who doesn’t know Achmed’s infamous line, “I kill you,” though there wasn’t a lot of quiet time. It takes a very talented person to get an audience in hysterics over suicide-bomber jokes.

There were a few moments in the show where Dunham seemed to have difficulty getting the limbs of his puppets to cooperate. Whether that was a part of his act or not remains unclear, but it was incredibly funny.

The show came to a close with an abundance of hysterical and unbelievably racist jokes by the character Peanut (Mocking Asian accents took up a decent portion of time), with Jose the Talking Jalapeno on a Stick joining him on stage.

Dunham’s slightly twisted sense of humor and high energy made for a more than entertaining night. He concluded the show with the final words, “Thanks, Penn State!”

No, thank you, Jeff Dunham.

Chloe Rabinowitz can be reached at cdtweekender@centredaily.com.

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