Winning The Jeff Dunham Battle, But Not The Jeff Dunham War

By now you probably already know this, but last week (and last decade, wow!), on December 29th, 2009, the world enjoyed a last minute Christmas Miracle. From the New York Times

In an e-mail message, Comedy Central said, “We currently have no plans to produce a second season” of “The Jeff Dunham Show,” a half-hour comedy series featuring the titular ventriloquist that had its debut in October. The decision comes as a bit of a surprise given that “Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special,” a performance shown on Comedy Central in 2008, is that channel’s most-viewed broadcast ever, drawing 6.6 million viewers, and that the premiere of “The Jeff Dunham Show” was watched by 5.3 million viewers. (Ratings for subsequent episodes declined to under two million viewers.) Comedy Central said it would continue to work with Mr. Dunham on a larger deal it signed with him this year, which includes a live tour, a standup special, DVDs and other products.

Canceled! Goodnight! It is one of those very rare instances when the world, which is usually so busy careening itself off a cliff, momentarily rights itself on its broken axis. It is one of those very rare instances where we are NOT reminded that our worldview is in direct (and frustrated, and impotent) opposition to the way things actually are, but that in fact our worldview can occasionally, albeit incredibly briefly, align with something larger than itself.

Because that show was fucking awful! If you ask me, it should never have been made in the first place!

Now, over the course of the week, as this story was reported in the entertainment press, Videogum was cited more than once as one of the actual REASONS and/or CAUSES for the Jeff Dunham Show’s cancellation. (Here we are in the New York Times, and here we are in an AOL story called What Killed the Jeff Dunham Show? in which the answer seems to be: Videogum, mostly). Personally, I think that is overstating the case, but whatever, WE’LL TAKE IT!

Of course, what those articles barely gloss over is the fact that in late 2009, on a major cable network that is well respected in the world of television, a show was broadcast that traded in cheap puns and overt, unapologetic, and unfunny racism, homophobia, misogyny, and anti-Semitism. Like, that happened. And if the ratings hadn’t tanked (because it turns out that people [in 2009!] don’t want to watch disembodied puppets sitting on a couch spewing bile for some reason) the show would still be on. There was no moral reckoning on the part of Comedy Central, or on the part of Jeff Dunham. There was just a mild rebuke on the part of South Park fans who made their displeasure known by turning off the TV and playing XBOX, or whatever.

My point is that sure, the Jeff Dunham Show is canceled, and that is great news because that show was awful and mean spirited and backwards. And we should start 2010 being grateful for what we have (or in this case being grateful for what we don’t have). But we can’t let our guard down either. Every time a Jeff Dunham Show is killed, a Lopez Tonight rises to take its place. Basically. And this is not the last we will hear from the nightmaretriloquist, either. What, you expect Jeff Dunham to content himself with the hundreds of millions of dollars he has earned through public hate speech? No. He will be back. And we will be ready for him.