Before I talk about last night’s premiere of The Jeff Dunham Show on Comedy Central, I would first like to issue a couple of apologies. I’m sorry, Jay Leno, I was wrong. Your comedy is hackneyed, aggressively middlebrow, toothless, and focuses way too much on your expensive car collection, and your exit from the Tonight Show only to reclaim the 10PM slot was obnoxious. But you are the Louis C.K. of late night with the manners of Princess Grace compared to Jeff Dunham. And I’m sorry, Seth MacFarlane, I was wrong. Your TV shows are stupid, repetitive, poorly written, and insufferably scatalogical, and you yourself seem to be excessively arrogant and self-congratulatory, with terrible taste in leather jackets and hand tanning. But you are the thinking man’s (pre-Soon-Yi) Woody Allen, blazing Mark Twainian paths of comedic invention compared to Jeff Dunham and his horror show of backwoods racist, homophobic, misogynistic, anti-semitic, shithead puppets.
If I had to sum up my feelings and reactions to The Jeff Dunham Show in a single sentence it would be FUCK THIS SHOW IN THE FACE UNTIL IT DIES. But I don’t have to sum up my feelings and reactions to The Jeff Dunham Show in a single sentence. I can take as many sentences as I like. Here are some of them:
The Jeff Dunham Show is both hateful and hatefully unfunny. It features Jeff Dunham’s classic ventriloquism act taken out into the real world. Here is the very first segment of the show’s very first episode:
OK, so just to be clear, we’ve got a racist snipe at Barack Obama being in the White House followed by an extended homophobic riff, carried out in front of an actual homosexual human being’s face. Which is, admittedly, the amazing thing about this show. When it opens, Dunham explains that his fans have seen him on TV or in live concert talking about the experiences that he and his puppets have, but never actually seeing them in the midst of those experiences. And there is a huge difference between Jeff Dunham standing in front of a sympathetic audience spewing his vile, projected hate speech (look at how he can say the worst fucking things without moving his lips!) but it’s a somehow even WORSE experience to watch him stand behind a black man at a gun range with a stupid fucking redneck puppet on his hand and ask “are you practicing to buy drugs?” Why did that man not turn around and shoot him in the face? Mysteries are all around us.
FUCK YOU, JEFF DUNHAM!
Here is the the thing about Jeff Dunham’s act: it is disgusting and it is cowardice. It is disgusting because the racism and homophobia and misogyny and anti-semitism that he expounds is never funny, nor does it ever have any kind of point to it other than to express a genuine worldview, which is that niggers and faggots and women and kikes are to be feared and insulted. It is cowardice because Jeff Dunham has always hidden behind the intellectually bankrupt argument that the terrible things being said are the thoughts of his characters, not him. Right. Well, first of all, Jeff Dunham, you are not even that good of a ventriloquist. We can see your stupid mouth saying the things you’re supposedly not saying. And as if puppets themselves weren’t an old-enough-fashioned throwback themselves (people still like this? In 2009?), this kind of moral disingenuousness towards your own despicable behavior is some straight up George W. Bush caliber bullshit. But what’s so fascinating about The Jeff Dunham Show is how bold Jeff Dunham is in bolstering and supporting the vileness of his puppets. He never once corrects them or suggests that what they’re saying is inappropriate or even contrary to what he, the human being, thinks. He laughs at what they say. He encourages them to go on with their hate speech. And if you go back to that scene in the gay therapist’s office, the homophobic puppet has his mouth open, yes, but Jeff Dunham looks just as shocked and upset. “Did you know?” the puppet asks. “No,” Jeff Dunham says, his voice low and his face drawn, as if he too has somehow been tricked into being in the same room with a homo.
THE ABSOLUTE FUCKING WORST DUDE IN THE WORLD, THIS GUY!
Of course, the most depressing reality of Jeff Dunham is how insanely popular he is. It’s barely even his fault at this point. If it’s broke, but it makes you millions of dollars a year, why fix it? Jeff Dunham can make his puppets say racist things alone in his bedroom all he wants, America is the one who actually made him famous. This show will probably be a huge success for Comedy Central. Whatever. Just another thing that we will have to explain to our grandchildren. “Sorry about how we live underwater now, and sorry that anyone ever found Jeff Dunham even remotely amusing.” The truth is that Comedy Central should be ashamed of itself for airing this show. Jeff Dunham is an afterthought compared to the dangerous legitimacy that the cable network is providing for his ideas, or the suggestion that what he’s doing is even comedy in the first place. Because it’s not. Just like spraying people with firehoses before setting attack dogs on them is not treating them as equals.
The only hope I can find in this whole mess is the fact that Jeff Dunham is hugely successful and finally got his own show, and the best celebrity guest he could find was Brook Hogan.
Yikes! Well played, Brooke. Taking your career to the next level, I’m sure.
But seriously, I’m actually hurt as a human being that this show exists. Oh well. I’ve been hurt before. But fuck Jeff Dunham. And fuck Comedy Central. There isn’t a jail big enough.