Why Jeff Dunham Doesn’t 'Pick A Side' When He Does Political Humor

Jeff Dunham and his puppet pals aren’t really a controversial bunch, and most of the ventriloquist’s comedy is rather family-friendly. However, every now and then, Dunham dabbles in political humor, most recently with his dummy Walter’s impersonations of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Neither is particularly mean-spirited, leaving many to wonder where Jeff Dunham stands politically. Well as it turns out, the fact that we don’t know where he leans is by design, and there’s a very practical, business-related reason for said centrism.

I recently caught up with Jeff Dunham to discuss his new Comedy Central special Me The People, and when I inquired as to how he navigates his political jabs, he said the following:

Even some of my friends that are on the right, they'd see when I would make fun of Trump, when Walter would turn into Grump and we'd do those videos, they'd go, ‘wait a minute.’ And now Walter comes out as Biden and he pretends he's Biden. So I do, you know, it's the old school thing of not picking a side, but being able to make fun of both sides equally, but not in a mean way. And I've said this a million times, I think comedians today make the mistake of picking a side and calling the whole group an idiot… And then it's just like, okay, you've lost half your fans or half the people that could be fans now don't even want to hear your name. And from a business standpoint, I just think that's silly.

It would likely be difficult to write three decades worth of comedy while completing avoiding politics, and although he’d never do a straight stand-up special, Dunham is just as much a comedian as he is a ventriloquist. And yes, you read that correctly, Jeff Dunham has been at it for over 30 years. For a long time, he was one of the only ventriloquists in the mainstream before paving the way for the likes of Terry Fator and Darci Lynne from America’s Got Talent. Not everything has been a winner, and there are even a few dummies who still have him wondering what the hell he was thinking, but he’s certainly cemented his place in pop culture as one of the very few household names in the world of ventriloquism. 

While his comments on why he keeps his political perspective vague in his acts is certainly helpful, we’re still left wondering where his personal politics actually lie. Even the recent, record-breaking live show that Gabriel Iglesias pulled off reveals a more stern standpoint on certain political issues, and that’s coming from a comic who also usually plays it close to his chest. So I inquired further, trying to get to the bottom of Dunham’s ballot, which is when he revealed this:

You know, I just want people walking away from the show, not really knowing my politics, because if the character says one thing, I usually counter it with the other side. Or if they say something I go, ‘oh, no, no, that's not okay.’ And I apologize to the audience and say, ‘I’m sorry. This is not my fault,’ which gets another nice laugh… I voted for Perot. Is that too old of a reference for you?

Welp, I guess we’ll never know. And yes, Jeff, that reference is too old for me. You can see Me The People periodically on Comedy Central’s schedule, on-demand using your local provider, or streaming on Peacock. Dunham is also on tour, so check out his website to see if he’s coming to a city near you. If stand-up isn’t quite your jam, not to worry, as there’s still a slew of new TV premieres in 2022 and, of course, more on the upcoming 2023 TV schedule.

Jeff McCobb
Senior Video Producer

Jeff is a film buff who is ridden with gratitude that he gets to spout opinions about them for a living. He currently resides in Los Angeles, where he spends his time complaining about Los Angeles.