×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Jeff Dunham’s Growing Empire Looks Forward

Jeff Dunham has always maintained full control over the world of characters that he’s created, and over the years has built various companies (On a Stick Prods., Red Wire Blue Wire — “a nod to Achmed”) that produce and finance all his projects across all distribution platforms, including live, television, film, merchandise and home video.

“Ticket sales are the big revenue stream, but merchandise is also big business on the road, from T-shirts to animatronic talking dolls,” says Dunham who has a multimillion-dollar consumer products business that consists of sales of more than 100 SKUs at his live shows, on his website, and at various retailers across the country. A T-shirt featuring Achmed has been one of the top five most popular shirts in Wal-Mart. He doesn’t do endorsements and rarely does commercials (“I did one for Hertz back in ’96”) because “there’s just so much involved with all that and tour sponsorships, and I like to give fans a pure show. I haven’t sold out. If the right endorsement or product came along, maybe. But I’m not doing mattress commercials yet.”

According to Judi Marmel, a partner at Levity Entertainment Group, which manages Dunham, the company has always positioned him as “a global brand, and what makes him unique is his ability to connect with audiences of all ages worldwide.”

Dunham “has kept expanding his horizons” in other areas over the years, she says, appearing in a variety of movies and TV shows, including “30 Rock,” the Jay Roach-directed comedy “Dinner for Schmucks,” and doing voice-over for characters in the recent animated features “Nut Job 1 & 2,” “Smurfs: The Lost Village,” and “From Up on Poppy Hill.”

“We have some new film projects we’re working on, and a couple of TV projects,” Mermel says.

“There’s always new, exciting stuff,” Dunham says. “When I was 40, I remember thinking, ‘I won’t be touring and doing the same thing in my 50. But here I am at 55, still touring and doing the same thing — and still having fun with it.”

More Legit

  • CAROL CHANNING HERSCHFELD. Actress Carol Channing

    Remembering Carol Channing: A Master of Channeling the Power of Personality

    There was only one Carol Channing, and her outsize personality was a source of delight to many fans — and imitators. Gerard Alessandrini’s stage spoof “Forbidden Broadway” had many incarnations over the years, including the 1994 edition when an audience member was selected every evening to come onstage and impersonate Carol Channing with the cast. [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Viola Davis, Lin-Manuel Miranda Among Celebrities Remembering Carol Channing

    Viola Davis, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Bernadette Peters are among the slew of celebrities taking to Twitter to pay tribute to late singer, comedienne and actress Carol Channing. Known for her starring roles in Broadway’s “Hello Dolly!” and “Gentleman Prefer Blondes,” the legend of the stage and screen died Tuesday at her home in Rancho Mirage, [...]

  • What the Constitution Means to Me

    Listen: How Things Got Scary in 'What the Constitution Means to Me'

    For a decade, writer-performer Heidi Schreck had wanted to write a play inspired by her experiences as a teen debater. But over the years the show started to develop into something both urgently political and deeply personal — and things got scary. In the Broadway-bound “What the Constitution Means to Me,” Schreck reimagines her speech-and-debate [...]

  • Carol Channing Dead

    Carol Channing, Star of Broadway's 'Hello, Dolly!' and 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,' Dies at 97

    Larger-than-life musical stage personality Carol Channing, who immortalized the characters of Lorelei Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and Dolly Gallagher Levi in “Hello, Dolly!,” has died. She was 97. Channing died Tuesday of natural causes at her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Related UTA Hires Agent Bjorn Wentlandt to Comedy Touring Division Ventriloquist Comedian Jeff [...]

  • 'What the Constitution Means to Me'

    'What the Constitution Means to Me' Transfers to Broadway

    “What the Constitution Means to Me,” a buzzy Off-Broadway production that counts Hillary Clinton and Gloria Steinem among its fans, is making the move uptown. The play will come to Broadway this spring for a 12-week limited run at the Helen Hayes Theater. “What the Constitution Means to Me” is one part civics lesson, one [...]

  • Choir Boy review

    Broadway Review: 'Choir Boy'

    Honestly, I was afraid that “Choir Boy” — the sweetly exuberant account of a gifted prep school boy’s coming of age, written by “Moonlight” Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney — would be swallowed up in a Broadway house, after winning us over in an Off Broadway staging in 2013.  But aside from the odd set [...]

  • Jason Robert Brown

    Listen: How Ariana Grande Got Jason Robert Brown to Madison Square Garden

    Broadway composer Jason Robert Brown never expected to find himself performing onstage at Madison Square Garden. But he did — thanks to his pal Ariana Grande. Brown met Grande before she was a superstar, when she was in the 2008 Broadway cast of his teen musical “13.” The two have kept in touch ever since [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content