Jeff Dunham has become a global entertainment brand and imminently bankable star whose two decades of unparalleled success have left him one of the world’s most recognizable and inventive entertainers.
Most recently, his NBC primetime comedy special “Jeff Dunham: Unhinged in Hollywood,” chronicling two sold-out nights at Los Angeles’ historic Dolby Theatre (home to the Academy Awards) with Dunham’s cast of characters, drew more than 6 million viewers when it aired in September this past year, winning the night for the network in non-NFL programming and went on to unrivaled success on Comedy Central and in DVD/Blu-Ray release.
Dunham recently launched his Perfectly Unbalanced arena tour, which has been selling out venues across the country and runs through 2016. His past tours have proved his undeniable global appeal. He has been awarded Billboard’s Top Comedy Tour for three years running (an award based solely on box office sales), and Guinness World Records recently named Jeff Dunham as the world record holder for “Most Tickets Sold for a Stand-up Comedy Tour.” He has sold out stadium-sized shows across three continents, from the United Kingdom to Sydney, Toronto to Copenhagen.
Dunham’s fascination with ventriloquism began at age eight when his parents gave him a toy Mortimer Snerd dummy and an accompanying instructional album.
By the time he was 10, Dunham was performing anywhere he could find an audience. After graduating from Baylor University, he moved to Los Angeles and soon became a sensation on the national comedy club circuit. Multiple performances on just about every stand-up comedy show known to man followed, as well as frequent guest appearances on “The Tonight Show” and “Late Night with David Letterman.”
In 2006, Jeff’s self-produced “Arguing With Myself,” his first one-hour primetime special, premiered on Comedy Central. The audience reaction was explosive. Almost immediately, fans were posting clips across the Web, views rocketed into the tens of millions, and Jeff Dunham became a comedy phenomenon, reviving a lost art with new levels of comedy and a contemporary voice.
In 2007, Dunham’s self-produced “Spark of Insanity,” his second Comedy Central special, again premiered to record ratings and million-plus DVD sales. Amazon’s consumers rated “Spark” the best DVD of the year. In 2008, his third television event, “A Very Special Christmas Special,” premiered with 6.6 million viewers to become the cable channel’s most-watched program ever.
Dunham’s 2011 stand-up special, “Controlled Chaos,” made an unprecedented multi-territory broadcast and DVD release in a dozen countries upon its U.S. bow on Comedy Central on September 25, 2011. 5.5 million people tuned in to watch the special on Comedy Central, making it the third most watched program in the channel’s history, and more than 100,000 DVDs sold within the first week.
At the end of 2011, The Bio Channel’s premiere of “Jeff Dunham: Birth of a Dummy” became the network’s No. 1 broadcast of all time.
Dunham, of course, had plenty of help: his entourage of signature characters who are loud, irreverent and unforgettable. There’s Walter, the grumpy retiree. The beer-swilling, NASCAR-loving and resolutely redneck Bubba J. The furry and manic Peanut, who carries his own ventriloquist dummy, Little Jeff. José Jalapeño, the spicy pepper from South of the border. The bumbling, skeletal Achmed the Dead Terrorist and his almost as dead long-lost son.
These characters, conceived and handcrafted by Dunham, are anything but dummies and have now taken on a life of their own, each with a legion of fans.
Just as Dunham has maintained full control over the world of characters that he has created, he has built an independent company that produces and finances all Dunham projects across all distribution platforms, including live, television, film, merchandise and home video. He maintains a highly interactive relationship with his fans via JeffDunham.com and many social networking platforms, including more than 9 million fans on Facebook. His content partnerships include YouTube (where his Achmed clip is in the top five videos of all time designated as a favorite), Amazon.com and iTunes.