Jeff Dunham is an American comedian who most famous for incorporating his ventriloquist skills into his stand-up routines. Dunham has been named America’s favorite comedian, and has a net worth of $100 million. But, Dunham wasn’t always as popular and successful as he is now. So, continue to learn how Dunham became one of America’s most beloved and successful comedians.
Dunham was born in Dallas, Texas and was adopted by real estate appraiser, Howard Dunham, when he was three months old. At the age of eight, Dunham began ventriloquism after his parents gave him a dummy for Christmas. By the time Dunham was in fourth grade, he declared that he wanted to become a professional ventriloquist, and would practice for hours in front of a mirror. He became so passionate about ventriloquism that when he was in sixth grade, he began attending the Vent Haven ConVENTion in Kentucky. The Vent Haven ConVENTion was a ventriloquist meeting and competition. Eventually, the organizers declared that Dunham could not enter any more competitions, and was a retired champion, as other attendees would not want to compete against him because he was so talented. Once Dunham was a teenager, he began performing at various venues.
Dunham attending Baylor University, where he would perform for people on campus, as well as fly around the country on weekends. Dunham was so talented, that by his junior year of college, he was making approximately $70,000 a year. After spending years living in Texas, and touring when he could, Dunham moved to Los Angeles, California in 1988. During his early years in California, Dunham studied successful and renowned comedians’ performances, and began shifting his routine from G-Rated material to edgier themes.
From 1988 to the early 2000’s, Dunham continued to master his craft and fine tune what his stand-up routines would discuss. Then, on July 18, 2003 Dunham landed an appearance on Comedy Central’s show, Comedy Central Presents. His half hour slot showcased Dunham’s following characters; Jose Jalapeno on a stick, Walter, Melvin the Superhero Guy, and Peanut. Although his performance was successful, Comedy Central did not give Dunham another time slot, as they felt that his act was not suitable for Comedy Central.
Then, in 2005, Dunham decided to finance his own comedy DVD, Jeff Dunham: Arguing with Myself. His manager convinced Comedy Central to air it, and the special earned just as high ratings as the Blue Collar Comics concert movie, which aired that year, did. Two years later, Dunham filmed his second special, which featured his character Achmed the Dead Terrorist. Achmed and Dunham became a viral internet sensation, and proved Dunham’s ability to push standards and boundaries. One year later, Dunham began performing in arenas with thousands of people.
2009 to Today
In 2009, Dunham signed an enormous deal with Comedy Central, which included; a stand-up special, DVDs, consumer products, a 60-city tour, and a television series called The Jeff Dunham Show. Dunham completed all parts of the deal within a year, and since then has taped a few more specials, as well as guest starring on many late-night shows, and television shows. Currently, you can watch Dunham’s specials, and catch him at one of his stand-up performances.