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John Lamb, Published February 04 2010

Comedy review: Dunham rocks the Fargodome

Standing in front of a microphone on the Fargodome stage Wednesday night, dressed in a black leather jacket and black T-shirt, Jeff Dunham looked more like a rock star than your traditional ventriloquist.

The crowd ate up Dunham’s multiple-personality stand-up like he was one.

Throughout his 100-minute set, the estimated 7,000 fans hooted, hollered, and one person even yelled “Free Bird,” when Dunham’s character Achmed the Dead Terrorist asked for songs to sing.

Dunham opened the show with a 15-minute solo skit about his reluctance to fly on private jets because too many rock stars die in crashes. It would have been a perfect spot for Dunham to refer to Buddy Holly’s fatal crash on his way to Moorhead 51 years ago Monday, but Dunham didn’t make the connection.

Then again, the crowd paid to see the top-grossing touring comedian in the country, and that’s what they got.

Achmed – the skeleton of a suicide bomber – is perhaps Dunham’s most recognizable character, but not the one that got the most laughs.

That would be Walter, Dunham’s crotchety older character. He was the first out of the box. Literally.

While the crowd liked Walter, the feeling wasn’t mutual. With his arms crossed, he was not impressed with the setting.

“Well, at least they did a nice job decorating the gym,” Walter deadpanned.

“Seriously. Why are we here? Did we lose a bet?” Walter quipped. The joke was hardly a surprise, as Dunham predicted it weeks ago in an interview.

The crowd warmed up to his weather jokes, but not all the material got big laughs.

“I saw Joan Rivers,” Walter said about his recent TV viewing. “I haven’t seen that much plastic surgery on a white woman since Michael Jackson died.”

When the crowd response was cool, the dummy turned to Dunham.

“Am I going to Hell?” Walter asked.

“Probably,” Dunham replied.

“Well, we are going to South Dakota next.”

While Walter had some of the best lines, a close second was Dunham’s redneck character Bubba Jay. Still, it was a disappointment Dunham had to use a cheat sheet for his bit with an ignorant puppet.

For $40-some a ticket, it’s too bad Dunham couldn’t remember his lines, especially since the crowd did.

“It’s kinda sad when your audience knows your act better than you do,” the dummy said.

The crowd didn’t seem to mind.

Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533