It’s hard to imagine a ventriloquist act being anything more than annoyingly hokey, but Jeff Dunham proved the opposite with his performance of his “2010 International Identity Crisis Tour” on Thursday, Oct. 7th, at the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC. Along with his dummies — which include Walter, a crotchety old man; super-hyper Peanut hopped up on Nyquil and Red Bull; Achmed the Dead Terrorist, whose name says it all; and Diane, the heavy-drinking Botox-addicted divorcee — Dunham kept the crowd roaring.
The high energy level of the crowd was at least partially due to a great deal of prepping before the show. A large screen showed hilarious “Dear Walter” letters that had everyone laughing before Dunham ever set foot on stage. Highlights included jokes such as “What is the difference between sex and making love?” to which Walter’s reply was, “50 bucks.” Fun facts, such as the fact that Peanut is the only dummy Dunham didn’t build by hand, were also showcased.
Brian “The Guitar Guy” Haner served as the opening act. He further pumped the crowd with songs including “Carnie Man,” “Fist Fight at the Waffle House,” and unfortunately, the unnecessarily political “Arizona,” which poked fun at immigrants. Despite the off-color crooning, Haner was deemed a hit by the majority of the audience.
When Dunham finally came on stage, he spent some time talking about his personal life and his recent divorce before launching into his ventriloquist act. He incorporated much of this personal information into his comedy, and was not afraid to poke fun at himself. Dunham proved incredibly personable and fun to watch, and almost every moment of his act was enjoyable. The skits performed with Walter and Achmed were by far the most enjoyable, with the Peanut skit bordering on a tad too chaotic and high-pitched. The Diane skit, performed as an encore, had its funny moments, but was very much, as Dunham admitted, still a work-in-progress.
What was most impressive here, even more so than Dunham’s obvious knack for comedy, was the skill with which he operated and voiced these dummies. Audience members never felt as though they were watching a one-man show. He so skillfully personalized each dummy that they became living, breathing characters right before the audience’s eyes. That was nothing short of magic.
Though Dunham was only in Raleigh for one night, he will continue his tour through January 2011. He will be back in North Carolina with an Asheville show on Nov. 4th. For more information about Dunham and the tour, or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.jeffdunham.com.
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.jeffdunham.com/#/videos. PRESENTER/VENUE: http://www.rbccenter.com/.
Jeff Dunham: http://www.jeffdunham.com/.
Brian “The Guitar Guy” Haner: http://brianhaner.com/.
EDITOR’S NOTE: To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts & Entertainment reviews online, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/.