Jeff Dunham throws his voice at the Mullins Center

By Jessica Troland

Renee Feng/Collegian
Renee Feng/Collegian

Comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham brought his show “Controlled Chaos” to the Mullins Center this past Thursday.

As audiences flooded into the massive arena, Dunham entertained the crowd with some preliminary fan-service. A jumbo screen in the middle of the stage displayed fan mail questions for his beloved puppet character Walter. Walter had audiences cracking up as he replied to each question in Walter’s crudely humorous style. When asked: “Walter, what would you do about the cellulite on my thighs?” Walter responded: “Put a Twinkie on the back of my car and drive just a little faster than you can run.” Walter had the audience laughing in earnest before the show even began.

This routine, along with some Dunham trivia, continued until the show began. Lights flashed wildly, the music blared and the audience roared with applause as Dunham appeared onstage. His show opened with a half-hour solo act, where he performed without his gang of dummies. Dunham themed his solo portion around a slideshow of old family pictures. He shared how he began his career as a ventriloquist and how he went to every measure to ensure a professional career for himself, taking his dummies literally everywhere with him. Dunham had the crowd in hysterics as he displayed his high school pictures, in which his dummies of course accompanied him.

Dunham also announced his entrance into the world of Twitter during this portion of the show, telling audiences of his new Twitter page (@jeffdunham) and his plans for the site. Dunham also announced that he would post a tweet from one of the characters every day. Achmed the Dead Terrorist, a character who’s supposed to be a deceased suicide bomber, posted on the day of the show, in reference to the death of deposed Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi: “Moamar meet Osama, Osama meet Moamar. Yes it is a little warm here.” Dunham later tweeted in response to Achmed’s typos when spelling Gadhafi’s first name.

After Dunham concluded his solo opening act, he introduced his first dummy back to the stage – the one and only Walter. Walter began his act with his favorite topic, marriage, continually teasing and poking fun at Dunham’s recent divorce. Walter also mocked the audience for living in Amherst, remarking on this past summer’s tornado in the region: “Oh yeah, it took down that one story building!”

The gracelessly aging puppet bickered with his human counterpart about growing older. At one point, Dunham asserted: “Walter, you know age is a state of mind,” to which Walter responded, “Not when your ass starts leaking.”

Next up was a character who had been retired from the show for a period of time, but was back by popular demand. Bubba J joined Dunham on the stage for some of his signature drunken humor. Now working as a security guard, Bubba J went on about the duties of his honorable line of work and just how he went about fulfilling them. While Bubba J’s segment of the show was one of the shortest, the all-American trailer park favorite did not fail to keep the audience laughing with his jokes about his love of beer and other alcohol-related issues.

After a short intermission came one of the most anticipated portions of the show. Achmed the Dead Terrorist made the most of recent events in the news, telling several jokes concerning the death of Gadhafi. He also reminisced about his days alongside Osama bin Laden and about his various other terrorist endeavors. However, what had audiences laughing perhaps even more was a wardrobe malfunction that seemed quite unplanned: Achmed’s ribs somehow caught onto his spine, crippling the dummy. Dunham, ever the sharp improviser, played it off hilariously.

Another surprise came when Dunham brought out Achmed’s long lost, half-dead son, Achmed Jr. With the family reunited, Achmed discovered his son’s homosexuality and his love for Marcel, one of the crew members. Achmed played up his popularity with the audience, ending his set with his catchphrase: “Silence! … Wait for it … I KEEL YOU!”

Last but not least to the stage was the hilarious ensemble of Peanut and José the Jalapeño on a stick. Peanut entered first, alone, and soaked up every minute of his spotlight, mostly playing off of race for his jokes. Favoring Native Americans and Asians mostly, Peanut interpreted Chinese accents and his views on the Chinese food industry in America. This, Dunham mentioned, would be the portion of the show that would not be included if the tour happened to make its way to China.

After a few funny plays on race, Peanut was joined with his accomplice on a stick, José Jalapeño. The two formed an adversarial comedy duo. José had everyone laughing with his thick Latin accent and jokes about life on a “steek,” while Peanut jabbed jokes at him.

The most impressive moment of the night was, without a doubt, the finale. Peanut announced that he had a new talent and that he too was now a ventriloquist; thus, a new member was introduced to the show. Little Ugly Jeff, the new member, joined Peanut onstage as José was placed back in his box (though he did not leave the conversation). With Dunham, Peanut and Little Ugly Jeff onstage, and with José’s voice murmuring from inside his box, Dunham stunned audience members with his ventriloquist abilities.

Jessica Troland can be reached at [email protected]