The record-setting comedian who makes a living talking to himself is coming back to Baltimore.
Jeff Dunham, the most famous ventriloquist on the planet, is bringing his “Still Not Canceled” tour to CFG Bank Arena on April 15 at 5 p.m., when he and his motley of puppets are expected to dazzle the crowd as they’ve been doing for decades.
While CFG Bank Arena, which had been closed while undergoing a $200 million renovation, will welcome some big-name acts upon opening its doors, Dunham’s show will be among the biggest.
Dunham is synonymous with comedy. His success has been commemorated with a start on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as well as being in the Guinness Book of World Records for “Most tickets sold for a stand-up comedy tour.”
Dunham has become a comedy icon, playing to capacity crowds whenever he takes the stage and becoming one of the most most-watched comedians on television.
In his nearly two decades of performing, more than 7.25 million people collectively attended his nearly 1,400 shows between June 2007 through May 2022, earning him the title of “Billboard’s Top Comedy Tour” for each of the past three years.
“I’ve constantly been on the road now since ‘07 doing these arenas. Except for the pandemic and my honeymoon – and those two don’t go together, by the way – I’ve never taken more than two weeks off in all those years,” Dunham, who turns 61 three days after his show in Baltimore, recently told the Indianapolis Star.
Dunham has done nine international tours, with shows in more than 20 countries, including arenas in Canada, U.K., Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, France, Australia, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa, where he is the highest-selling international comedian.
But Dunham has been just as big a hit — perhaps even bigger — on television.
Dunham’s one-hour Comedy Central Special, “Me the People,” premiered on Nov. 25 of last year and became the network’s highest rated stand-up special since Dunham’s last broadcast, “Jeff Dunham’s Completely Unrehearsed Last-Minute Pandemic Holiday Special” in 2020.
He holds four of the top-five, highest-rated programs on Comedy Central and currently has three stand-up routines airing on Netflix.
While Dunham’s show starts as a typical stand-up routine, where he’s often the punchline of his own jokes, there isn’t a topic – or a gender or a nationality — that’s off-limits. Dunham’s humor spits in the face of political correctness, which is a major reason why fans have flocked to his shows, as they offer a two-hour escape from a world that is becoming more and more politically correct every day.
But Dunham’s true talent are his puppets, which are just as raunchy as him. From Walter the Grumpy Retiree, who makes jokes about killing his wife and to redneck Bubba J, who is proud of his redneck heritage, Dunham gives each of his puppets a distinct personality and humor that has everybody laughing.
“I do my own standup at the beginning of the show, but people have asked me would you ever want to quit and just do straight stand up? No, you dance with who brought you. Good comedy has two main ingredients: conflict and tension,” he said. “That’s what makes a great comedy movie or a sitcom or whatever.”
The Audience never knows which puppets Dunham will bring to life. Maybe its Achmed the Dead Terrorist, who makes fun of killing people, or maybe its Jose Jalapeno, who is about as politically incorrect as they come, yet Dunham never disappoints.
“It’s the tension and conflict between characters. And rather than just tell jokes, I can do that on stage because it’s more than one person,” he said. “It enables me also to discuss, rather than talk about, certain topics that are in the news or the zeitgeist or whatever you want to call it. Some stuff other comedians have trouble talking about, because even just talking about the subject will get you canceled. But I can point and counterpoint and discuss and argue on stage with tension and conflict. It can be built right in so it’s like a mini sitcom on stage.”
Dunham, who first performed in Baltimore in 1985, is making his fifth appearance in Charm City and first since packing the arena of his “Perfectly Unbalanced” tour in 2016.
Now, Dunham is in the middle of his “Still Not Canceled” tour through 44 cities throughout North America that kicked off on Dec. 28.
“What’s happened today, and it confuses me, is so many comedians – and all the late night guys – will pick a side and then just bash the other side and do mean jokes. And then they’re alienating a potential 47% of their audience when they don’t need to do that,” he said.
“I love the idea of making fun of what is there in front of everybody and what is easily made fun of and fun to make fun of. But you don’t do it in a mean-spirited way. I pride myself on the fact that many people now from the Left see my show and go, you know, Walter is Biden, but we’re not trashing the left. We’re just making fun of what we’re all seeing on a daily basis.”
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Jon Gallo is an award-winning journalist and editor with 19 years of experience, including stints as a staff writer at The Washington Post and sports editor at The Baltimore Examiner. He also believes the government should declare federal holidays in honor of the following: the Round of 64 of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament; the Friday of the Sweet 16; the Monday after the Super Bowl; and of course, the day after the release of the latest Madden NFL video game.