Synopsis: The best-selling stand-up comedian of ALL TIME is back with his first special since 2008. TIME Magazine called Jeff, "the most powerful comedian in the United States". There's no doubt that Jeff and his entourage of signature characters are a phenomenon, selling out shows around the world and appealing to audiences of all ages.
The phrase wildly popular ventriloquist
was supposed to have gone out of the language sometime in the 1970s, at the latest. But here's Jeff Dunham, a huge 21st-century-star and a man who unashamedly speaks through his puppets… or do they speak through him? In Controlled Chaos
, Dunham presents a live concert performance that leans heavily on three favorite dummies: cranky old man Walter, infidel-hating skeleton Achmed the Dead Terrorist, and the mischievous purple whatzit, Peanut. (Lesser roles are doled out to José Jalapeño, the talking chili pepper on a stick, and Achmed's half-blown-up son.) Dunham's act is exceptionally polished, and he gets some honest laughs from his no-dummies opening monologue, as he mocks his own childhood via some very geeky school photographs. Then come the routines: Walter makes fun of Africans who live in houses made of elephant dung, Peanut does a drawn-out routine about the challenging accents of employees at Chinese restaurants, and Achmed (by now Dunham's most consistently successful bit) rails against everybody. Dunham's alleged "political incorrectness" looks a lot like old-school adolescent humor, and there's little in the mainstream-just-slightly-racy act that your mom can't enjoy--although the DVD comes with a "Bleeped Version" of the concert, just in case. Even if you don't cotton to Dunham's jokes, his skill at presenting well-defined characters (and at creating meta-gags about ventriloquist acts) is on full display here. The disc includes outtakes of on-stage flubs and some behind-the-scenes material. --Robert Horton