Jeff Dunham was born on April 18, 1962 in Dallas, Texas, and at three months old, was adopted by Howard and Joyce Dunham. Upon receiving a Mortimer Snerd dummy as a gift from his parents at age eight, the young Dunham immediately began studying the techniques of Edgar Bergen and honing the craft that would ultimately make him a worldwide comedy sensation: ventriloquism. After his debut puppet performance for an in-school project in the third grade, Dunham practiced incessantly, and the doll ultimately became an extension of himself'he even posed in yearbook photos with the puppet. At the tender age of 10, the burgeoning comedian began performing at local establishments, and by his teenage years, he was featured on local newscasts, and even starred in commercials for a local car dealership in Dallas.
College and Move to Los Angeles
While attending Baylor University, Dunham continued to improve his comedy while working towards earning his degree in communications. Performing frequently on the weekends and whenever he found free time in his busy schedule, Dunham developed some of his most popular characters while accumulating a hefty financial sum and still managing to graduate in 1986. Shortly after finishing at Baylor, he moved out to Los Angeles to concentrate on his stand-up career, with influences from established comedians like Jerry Seinfeld providing indirect assistance along the way. One of his earliest dreams was achieved in 1990, when Dunham landed a spot on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, though it would still be some time before his act resonated with the masses.
A resilient work ethic and full commitment to touring eventually led to a key Comedy Central appearance in 2003, and later, a personal financing of his first DVD, Arguing with Myself, in 2005. The move paid off for Dunham, as Comedy Central aired the DVD in 2006 to the tune of two million viewers and copies sold. The special skyrocketed the comedian's popularity, and he quickly released his second Comedy Central special, Spark of Insanity, the next year, which was equally as successful both in ratings and DVD sales. Managing to top himself in 2008, the Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special premiered to record-setting ratings at Comedy Central. With the comedian's proven track record and strong following, Comedy Central offered him his own series in 2009, which was called The Jeff Dunham Show. Since then, Dunham has become a best-selling author, appeared in several movies and television shows, and has released two more comedy specials, and continues to shine as the world's premier ventriloquist.
Dunham's mass appeal has landed him roles on several television shows (Ellen, 30 Rock) and movies (Dinner for Schmucks), in addition to starring in his own show in 2009 on Comedy Central that ran for one season despite garnering high ratings.
Dunham has kept audiences laughing with a variety of characters, and is able to get away with hilarious, often inflammatory remarks that he would not normally say himself. Fan-favorite characters include Peanut, Bubba J, Walter, Jose Jalapeno, and Achmed the Dead Terrorist, among others.
Having created a spot in mainstream comedy for ventriloquism, Dunham is widely regarded as the most popular comic of his kind in the world. View a sampling of his accolades below.
In addition to his numerous DVDs and audio recordings of his heralded stand-up specials, Dunham, perhaps the world's foremost authority on ventriloquism, also has released instructional DVDs and books to help share his passion by teaching it to others and hopefully inspiring the next generation of great puppet masters. The wide range of available items at his online shop speaks to his incredible popularity, and includes everything from shirts and bobbleheads, to animatronic dolls and wine.