I don’t really understand the programming over on Comedy Central. The cable network has arguably the two smartest television programs on the air, in “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” yet Comedy Central doesn’t really bother to tailor its programming to the audience of its two mainstays. “South Park” and “Important Things with Demetri Martin,” perhaps, and “The Chappelle Show,” at one time, but we’re also talking about the network responsible for “Mind of Mencia,” “Crank Yankers,” and “The Chocolate Show.” Comedy Central should be airing shows like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” or “Flight of the Conchords,” and not the execrable “Secret Girlfriend,” and certainly not “The Jeff Dunham Show.”
But what the fuck do I know? The series premiere of “The Jeff Dunham Show” scored Comedy Central’s best numbers for a premiere in the network’s history. 7.9 million folks tuned in to “The Jeff Dunham Show,” which is more people than watch “Community” or “Parks and Recreation,” or even “30 Rock.” And it’s a show about a man who sticks his hand up a puppet’s ass. But not just any show: It’s seriously the dumbest show on TV. Dumber than “Hank;” twice as dumb as “Two and a Half Men;” and more moronic, even, than one of Jay Leno’s remote segments. It’s the comedy equivalent of a mewling kitten that’s just been curbed by a Brooklyn rat.
I’ll concede that I’d never heard of Dunham before witnessing the first episode of his new Comedy Central show. I wish, now, that I could turn back time, and erase my knowledge of him from my memory banks, which are now rejecting new memories out of spite. I’m not sure how to describe the show, except to compare it to staring into an open wound and watching tendons shrivel and snap around a cracking bone. I never laughed. Didn’t crack a smile. Mostly, my expression was that of a man trying to keep down a stomach full of bile.
For the unfamiliar, Dunham is a ventriloquist, and apparently the top-grossing stand-up act of 2009, though I’m at a complete loss as to how explain why. He’s something resembling the Larry of the Cable Guy of ventriloquism. He’s got a series of characters which he uses to try to offend gays, blacks, Muslims, women, and those of us with an ability to hear. To call him offensive, however, would be to suggest that his comedy is effective; it’s not. Even the most offensive humor requires a nugget of truth behind it — there’s nothing but here but the broadest of crass stereotypes: All Muslims are terrorists; gays like to have anal sex; and rednecks like beer and guns. Groundbreaking material.
I’m not familiar with Dunham’s stand-up act, but the premise behind his skit show is to put his dummy characters in “real-world situations.” His elderly, cranky and homophobic Walter character goes with Dunham to a therapist for same-sex couples, where Dunham and Walter bond in a bathroom stall over the fact that they don’t like gays. His Achmed the Dead Terrorist character, who is a skeleton that’s apparently the world’s worst suicide bomber, puts on his own stand-up act. Achmed has his own catchphrase, too: “I will kill you.” You’ll wish he would. More mind-boggling, still, is that according to Wikipedia, the introduction of Achmed in his stand-up act is the fourth most-watched YouTube video of all time, viewed over 200 million times, presumably by a collection of lab rats who have to push the replay button to collect their food. (The experiment: To see how long they’ll go before starving themselves to death).
See what I mean?
There’s also a skit where a purple woozle character named Peanuts goes on a date with Brooke Hogan and attempts not to stare at her breasts, and another skit where Bubba J., a beer-swilling redneck, goes to a gun range and falls in love with a fellow gun enthusiast. It’s about as funny as a deflated whoopee cushion.
I don’t get it. I really don’t. With even the worst shows, I can often envision an audience, somewhere, for it. But not this. “The Jeff Dunham Show” is a program that even “America’s Funniest Videos” fans would sneer at. I’m at a complete loss.