Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special

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Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special

Ventriliquist acts have been a novelty niche of comedy since vaudeville. It takes a special kind of talent -- not just to say things without moving the lips, but to convince an audience that the words are coming from the puppet, even though deep down they know they're not.

Jeff Dunham excels at this on a technical level. He has an array of voices that make each of his characters distinct from each other, and can "converse" with them, even "argue" with them, with a rapidity that staggers the audience as to how he can switch back and forth between voices, even interrupt himself. It's easier to believe the puppets are alive, especially when he begins to work with them in multiples.

JEFF DUNHAM'S VERY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS SPECIAL opens, curiously enough, without ventriliquism. It's a solo stand-up routine, the highlight of which is watching his teenaged daughter learn to pump gas for the first time. It's evocative of some of Bill Engvall's shtick, but not quite as polished. From there, we progress into the parade of puppets, starting with Walter, then moving on to Achmed the Dead Terrorist and his beloved carol, "Jingle Bombs," which he performs with Guitar Guy.

Peanut is the next fellow to take the stage, and the humor turns a little more mature as the character relates how he'd love to be adopted by Angelina Jolie, which springboards into a routine about breasts. It would all have been a lot funnier if it weren't for Jolie's very public mastectomy a while back. Peanut is joined by Jose Jalapeno (on a Stick) for a while, before he launches into a series of gay jokes aimed at Dunham and Guitar Guy ("Which one of you is the girl? The one who plays the guitar, or the one who plays with dolls?" he asks coyly), ending with a crude humor version of "The Night Before Christmas."

I almost forgot to mention that Bubba J has a bit, including a musical number, "Roadkill Christmas." I almost forgot it because, compared to the other bits, it was largely forgettable.

Funnier than the special is the bonus section. In "Ask Santa," Walter (dressed as Santa) takes questions from the audience and delivers his particular version of curmudgeonly wisdom. "Christmas Tips" has more of Santa Walter, but also some with Achmed and Peanut, offering tips about celebrating Christmas. The rest of the bonus bits focus on the making of the sleigh ride opening skit with Dunham and Walter, scenes from the photo shoot for the DVD cover, and some behind the scenes / between the scenes bits at the show, including Dunham firing the loaded t-shirt bazooka up into the balconies.

3.0 / 5.0