Famed comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham and his colorful troupe of dummies are taking their offbeat brand of comedy to the Vina Robles Amphitheatre in Paso Robles this Sept. 21. After touring the globe for more than three decades, Dunham will be settling down in Las Vegas, where his current tour will be ending in November.
“The thing I respond to the most is the audience interaction with the characters,” Dunham said. “I spent years of doing comedy clubs, talking to the audience. In giant arenas, it’s a little more difficult to make that intimacy work. Now going back to Vegas, I’m looking forward to getting that back. There are 1,200 seats, so it’s not a comedy club, but it’s a decent size.”
Named by New York magazine as the “most successful comedian working in America,” Dunham recently completed his international tour, All Over the Map, which will premiere on Comedy Central on Nov. 16. During the tour, he visited five continents and more than 12 countries.
“I grew up in Texas, and the audience members there came from every walk of life,” Dunham said. “Blue collar workers, old people, young people. I learned to entertain a general audience. You can’t come up with jokes that are too specific. So in my regular act, I had to pick jokes that were universal. For every single country, I had specific material. It was really a challenge.”
Dunham reached international acclaim with his first solo appearance on Comedy Central in 2003. Since then, the comedian has completed three worldwide comedy tours, and is currently in the middle of his Disorderly Conduct Tour. He’s most famous for his eclectic cast of puppet sidekicks such as the curmudgeonly Walter, the bizarre purple creature called Peanut, and his most recent, boundary-pushing character, christened Achmed the Dead Terrorist. His puppets are used as a vehicle to deliver jokes concerning topics spanning racial stereotypes, sexual innuendos, and puns concerning the aforementioned, ineffectual suicide bomber.
“You don’t want to hear comedy from someone who has a perfect life,” Dunham said. “You live through the garbage, and sometimes it’s the comedy that gets to you.”
Dunham will be performing in Paso Robles on Sept. 21. The show begins at 8 p.m., with the doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Tickets range from $50 to $70. For more information about the event, go to vinaroblesamphitheatre.com.