Now, it appears that Comedy Central has given up on the show. As we reported yesterday, a network spokesperson said that it has "no plans" to renew the show for a second season.
Dunham is hugely popular, and his fans are intensely loyal -- so the abrupt end to his show got us thinking about where it all went wrong. Did critics' disapproval rub off on viewers? Were production costs too high, as the Live Feed indicates? What ultimately killed 'The Jeff Dunham Show'
According to the Live Feed, the network says it has "no plans to renew the series at this time." However, the network will remain in business with the famed ventriloquist, thanks to a previously signed deal, which will include a network special set to air in fall 2010.
Among the speculated reasons for 'Dunham''s cancellation: production costs.
In case you don't know Dunham, he's been a ventriloquist for 25 years, has generated 350 million hits on YouTube and, according to Forbes, earned $30 million last year (placing him just behind Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock as America's richest comedian). He also earned record-breaking ratings last week for the the premiere of 'The Jeff Dunham Show' on Comedy Central.
But he's also got plenty of detractors, and a Dunham backlash seems to be gathering steam.
I'd had limited exposure to Dunham thus far, but after catching his guest appearance on '30 Rock,' I was curious as to how others respond to his act -- which is politically incorrect, to say the least. Sure, he's got a ton of fans; on the other hand, EW readers apparently can't stand him, and Videogum called his show "the worst thing in the entire world."
Kudos to '30 Rock's' Jack Donaghy for accomplishing what most of us have only dreamed of -- throttling one of comedian Jeff Dunham's puppets.
In this clip, Jack comes to Liz's aid at a comedy club after a ventriloquist dummy lays into her with insults. See if you can spot Dunham's lips moving during the attack.
Watch the video after the jump.
No disrespect to Dunham and company, but there was a time when throwing your voice was impressive enough to get on television. Check out the late Señor Wences chatting it up with his friends Johnny and Pedro on the original Muppet Show. It's alright.
Unfortunately, when we cut to The Jay Leno Show, his dancing girls (an homage to Jenna's video in 30 Rock) were better at looking good in their tight shorts than they were at dancing. Then, after Leno came out, we got to overhear a woman wanting to get something signed. "Can I leave it?"
I did enjoy the smooth transition into the show. It creates a sense of synergy on the network where you feel like all these shows are one big happy family. Except for Southland. But I guess there's always that one relative nobody wants around ... Hey, I just wrote a Jay Leno joke!
So it seems like a no brainer for Comedy Central to step up and see what Dunham can do with his own half-hour series, The Jeff Dunham Show, which is slated to premiere October 22.
Dunham himself is a somewhat soft-spoken, unassuming figure; it's his puppets, like cranky old man Walter, Peanut the "woozle," Jose Jalapeno (literally a Jalapeno on a stick), and the more controversial Achmed the Dead Terrorist that garner the attention. Which is pretty much what a good ventriloquist should strive for. The more the audience pays attention to the puppet, the less they're looking at your mouth.
The first special is at 3 PM - Aisha Tyler is Lit: Live at the Fillmore and end, officially, with Drew Hastings: Irked and Miffed at 3 AM Monday morning. Sunday at 10PM is the network premiere of Dave Attell: Captain Miserable, which originally aired on HBO on December 8, 2007.
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