Jeff Dunham Has A Valentine’s Day Special Only A Mother Could Love

If you’ve always wanted to see Walter’s puppet nipples, we’ve got a special for you
Jeff Dunham Has A Valentine’s Day Special Only A Mother Could Love

What says romance better than a comedian with his hand up the behind of felt-covered racial stereotypes? I can think of a few things, but if that’s the way you like your bread buttered, Jeff Dunham has a new special for you. Comedy Central isn’t producing much these days but the network has reunited with the ventriloquist for I’m With Cupid, an hour of jokes vaguely based on the theme of romance. If José Jalapeño on a Stick is what it takes to add spark to your love life, God help you.

I’ve never seen Dunham in concert but I’m guessing this is how his shows usually go, with the puppetmaster opening a series of boxes until he runs out of friends to play with. First up is Cupid, played by a shirtless Walter and greeted with a near-standing ovation. People must like the cranky old bastard or else slash fiction fans were buzzed to finally see Walter’s puppet nipples. His Cupid body is a lazy construction — the naked torso is a noticeably different shade of pink than the wrinkled head — but maybe Dunham’s doll designers were in a hurry that day.

You’d think the key to Dunham’s comedy would be playing stereotypes for laughs. Walter is bitter because he’s old. Bubba J. is a dimwitted Southerner. José Jalapeño talks like Speedy Gonzales with a two-pack-a-day habit. Achmed the Dead Terrorist (presented here was the Greek god Archimedes because Achmed is CANCELED!) plays on the most bigoted fears about the Middle East. Peanut is… I’m not sure what Peanut is except purple. But “playing stereotypes” isn’t exactly right because most of the interchangeable jokes in I’m With Cupid could be told by any of the puppets.

Take Cupid/Walter’s salacious sex riddle: “What does Disney World have in common with Viagra? An hour-long wait for a two-minute ride!” (Cut to gasping woman in the audience who can’t believe Dunham went there.) Decide for yourself if that’s funny but the gag could just as easily have been delivered by Peanut or Achmed … er, Archimedes. The comedy doesn’t have anything to do with the characters — just flaccid sex punchlines borrowed from old Playboy’s Party Jokes, then strung together until Dunham is out of puppets. 

Dunham is an odd comic presence, hiding his own personality to keep the spotlight on his toys. He throws red meat to his presumably older audience — Joe Biden wears diapers, Nancy Pelosi is old too, cancel culture is out to get me — but the “edgiest” thing about the act is multiple puppets’ habit of dropping F-bombs. That gets a shock laugh the first time and puzzled looks when multiple characters randomly throw around effs. 

How do you end a Valentine’s special if Achmed’s arms falling off doesn’t quite work as the big finale? Pretend you’re ad-libbing, then launch into the lyrics of an old ‘70s love song and invite the audience to sing along for an uncomfortably long time. The “spontaneous” lighting of the iPhones, swaying in the darkness like a plea for “Desperado” at an Eagles reunion concert, feels pretty staged but at least it lets us know the show has come to an end. It looked like Dunham was feeling the love and why not? He didn’t pay good money to sit through this. 


Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?