Does everybody remember way back to last year, when ventriloquist Jeff Dunham went from being a multi-millionaire that the mainstream media didn't seem to know much about, to a multi-millionaire that the media and the people with Internet access couldn't stop reminding us about? Oh, you remember. Turns out someone decided this would be an appropriate time to make a documentary about the world of ventriloquism, and on April 6, 2010, you can watch that documentary from the comfort of wherever you stick your DVDs. Just don't move your lips.
I'm No Dummy features Jeff Johnson, famous for starring as a ventriloquist in the 1970s TV show Soap, as well as Lynn Trefzger. And, oh, yeah, Jeff Dunham. Roll the clip! (Not the lip)
Something about this review of Jeff Dunham in Monday's Dallas Morning News made me stop and think before continuing to read onward. Actually, several somethings. Starting from the first words, actually. "Jeff Dunham's rare and exquisite comedy..." (italics mine). OK. Exquisite is certainly a word a reviewer can use at his or her discretion and I cannot quibble with that, per se. Rare, though? Not sure how Dunham's ventriloquism is exactly rare, but, eh, let's move on to the next sentence. "He's one of three ventriloquists, all from Dallas, who have only recently invaded the national consciousness." Italics again are mine. Now we've got some quibbling to do. Terry Fator, who won NBC's America's Got Talent and its $1 million prize, wasn't exactly a household name before appearing on the show, but millions of people already were more than familiar with both Dunham and Jay Johson.
By the way, the reviewer in the next paragraph describes Dunham this way: "Mr. Dunham's mark of distinction is that he's easily one of the funniest stand-up comics alive." How he'd do that with only recently invading our consciousness is something, indeed. But Dunham has been packing comedy clubs and theaters for several years. I recall seeing him sell out a full weekend at a club six years ago, and even then, he had rabid fans lining up -- with their own puppets of his -- to meet him afterward. He did Comedy Central Presents back in 2003. Here's his most recent touring schedule. His fans, which undoubtedly include the Dallas reporter, remain so loyal they've made him #1 on this year's Comedy Central voting promo dealy deal (Stand-Up Showdown).
But let's not forget Jay Johnson. He's currently on tour following his Tony Award win for The Two and Only! (including this coming weekend in New Jersey). Johnson, however, has been a known performer for 30 years. Or has everyone forgotten the 1970s sitcom that really revolutionized the concept of sitcoms with drama and parodied soap operas, otherwise known as Soap? We haven't forgotten you, Jay. We haven't forgotten.