“If you walk on stage with a doll, it’s like Kryptonite,” says ventriloquist and standup comic Jeff Dunham, who has managed to turn his use of dummies into comedy gold, raking in $24 million touring in 2011 alone. This year, Dunham put together a Halloween-themed DVD, “Minding the Monsters,” in just four months — an extremely short period of time to produce a comedy spesh, especially when conceived while touring in Australia, South Africa and Europe.
Of all touring acts, Dunham ranked 27th this year. “I’m not going to call myself the McDonald’s of comedians; I’m more like burgers and fries,” Dunham says of his widespread appeal, which has been built on playing to auds from churches to clubs. Coming up for the comedian is a possible toon series looking for financing along with future domestic and international tours.
As for whether Dunham would ever abandon the dummies, he says, “One of the biggest compliments was when one of the haters on ‘Minding the Monsters’ said, ‘He’s funny enough without the dolls!’ I love doing the standup by myself, but I don’t think I’d be selling these kinds of tickets if it weren’t for the characters.”