Bustertheclown wrote:Jeff Dunham's comedy has never struck me as ironic in the least. Irony, in the comedic sense, is a subversion. In his case, for him to be ironic, he'd have to be subverting the stereotypes he's portraying somehow. He's not. He's playing them straight, and even reinforcing them. For example, Achmed the Dead Terrorist doesn't exist for us to try to understand some other point of view. He doesn't exist to make terrorists lovable. He's a dead terrorist who died because he blew himself up out of incompetence. He's the enemy, and the enemy is a bungling moron. He exists to make the audience feel superior to "them over there." That's not ironic. That's pretty much dead-on the opposite of irony. Irony would be Johnny the Dead U.S. Soldier telling the same jokes.
I seriously am having trouble understanding how anyone could assign some Andy Kaufman-esque metacomedy attributes to Jeff Dunham, of all people. His shit is exactly what you see-- xenophobic, racist, and fairly unsophisticated. You can tell by the smirk on his face. He may not always believe what he's saying, but the people who shell out $20 to go see his act sure as hell do, and he's happy to let them. He's happy to keep letting people laugh at José's funny nondescript Latin accent, Achmed's idiocy, the idea that people from exotic locations are weirdos, the idea that old people are angry and sour, and the myriad other little jabs he's got going on. He's not making fun of people who agree with what he says; he's catering to them. It's all "it's funny 'cause it's not me," humor. Pretty simple stuff. You don't have to think too hard to get it, and it never needs an explanation. That isn't to say he's not funny. Let's just call it what it is, instead of trying to rationalize it.
Achmed's not very representative. Dunham spends half of his time doing Walter or Peanut. I think that, being that those two are defined as prime assholes, a kind of people that might be amusing on stage but whom we'd hate in real life, we are supposed to take the oposite side from what they're saying, and that's irony by definition. You may think that he uses hateful characters in order to sneak his more controversial opinions, I don't think that's the case. Most of what Walter and Peanut say is too extreme and backward to be real. If he really was that backward, he wouldn't hide behind the dolls.
Achmed has a feeling of fratboy prank more than anything to me. If I was to make a conclusion about Dunham from it, I would say that he's not strongly against "war on terror", but he's not strongly for it either. Lack of political stance is obvious there, he doesn't even brush on political topics, he mostly makes lame and obvious jokes like "I took my kid to work day". The topic is something he doesn't strongly care about, just something that he picked up "because it's there", and you may blame him for taking the serious subject lightly or for looking at one side of the things, but he isn't war-mongering or hate-spreading. But anyways, if it didn't get that popular, Achmed would probably be just a footnote in his career.
I'm rather unmoved about most of other stereotyping he has, because those are so old and worn out stereotypes, he's hardly pushing the envelope with them. I mean, Bubba J, big deal, whenever you hear a word "redneck", you know you're bound to hear the crossbreeding joke in next few minutes, and people from south may get pissed about it, or maybe they're used to it by now, it's not like I'm gonna form an opinion about them based on his act.
Dunham's certainly not subversive or insightful or anything. I wouldn't say he's completely immune to that "smug white guy" attitude you mentioned earlier either. But I definitely wouldn't put him in the same folder with Pauly Shore or Larry the cable guy. Considering that comedians today are competing at who's going to be more offensive (ironically or not), I think that his offensiveness is rather tame, practically a 'family friendly' brand of insult humor, that if we wanted to talk about offensiveness, we'd have numerous prime subjects before we get to him.
I do think that he's usually funny, and when you think someone's funny, you let him get away with things that unfunny guy would be scolded for.
It's all "it's funny 'cause it's not me," humor.
That's not exactly true, is it? He kind of prouds making his act 'regional', which means that his puppets will mock the town in which they're performing, the state, Americans in general, members of the audience, and of course Dunham himself.
No no no. You've got me all wrong. I'm not saying that a writer can't write from experiences outside of his own, and still make them believable. Of course people can do that. What I'm saying is that stories and characters are constructs, not live entities. They are what is put into them, and nothing more. They do not have lives of their own. They do not live and breath outside of the will of the storyteller or the audience. A character or a story might develop organically to a point that it might seem to be living, breathing, and acting of its own free will, but it isn't. These things are mental exercise. Take away the writer, take away the audience, and the character doesn't exist.
With that stated, the man's choice in the types of characters he creates and how he uses them is telling evidence about one or both of two things: who he is, and the type of audience to which he seeks to relate.
If you check out any of those "character writing" threads, about halfa people here say that at some point, their characters started having "life on their own" and weren't in their coltrol anymore. Now you may read that as you like: you may say that their imagination is running wild, that their subconscious is taking over the writing process, that they're dragging hidden parts of their own character, I'm sure someone who studied psychology would know. But however you choose to explain it, apparently there is such fenomenon, the point at which writer gets so familiar with characters, that writing them becomes intuitive, and writer doesn't feel 'responsible' for character's actions anymore. I think that Dunham is actually a good example of that kind of writing.