In the world of stand-up, some comedians take the idea of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” perhaps a little too close to heart, relying years later on gimmicky bits that earned laughs early in the career.
We’re not talking about time-tested comedy gold — Gallagher’s Sledge-O-Matic. Rodney Dangerfield’s “No respect.” Jeff Foxworthy’s “You might be a redneck.”
No, we’re talking about the realm of mid-level hackery. Craig “Love Master” Shoemaker. Kevin Meaney’s “Psycho”-worthy impersonations of his mother. Yakov Smirnoff’s “What a country!”
Into the mix may we humbly toss Jeff Dunham’s name. He’s a stand-up who still performs a ventriloquist act relying heavily on the same three puppets he’s been using for years and years: There’s Peanut, a fuzzy felt-fleshed alien; sourpuss old curmudgeon Walter; and José, a vaguely racist, anthropomorphized jalapeño on a stick. (Newer puppets in Dunham’s act walk the same ethnic line: There’s Bubba the redneck and an ebonic black puppet, Sweet Daddy Dee.) Not that the same old schtick doesn’t earn Dunham fresh laughs. Acerbic-tongued Walter’s the biggest celeb of the puppet bunch, usually called upon to say outlandish things on late-night talk shows and do guest spots on Fox Sports’ “The Best
Damn Sports Show Period.”
Count on Dunham to deliver much of the usual — Walter talking smack about local sports teams and people in the crowd, José talking about life on a steek — when he brings his act to the Tempe Improv for a weekend stint.
Jeff Dunham and Friends
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. Sunday
Where: Tempe Improv, 930 E. University Drive, Tempe How much: $20
Info: (480) 921-9877
Note: All shows 18 and over