Every week, I add a movie rated at one star to my Netflix queue, suffering through the worst of the worst for your entertainment. In the past, I’ve taken on backyard wrestling, softcore Iraq War porn, and a ripoff of Terminator starring Luke Skywalker. But now, as the holidays approach, I’m turning my attention to Christmas films.
Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special (2008)
Starring: The whitest live audience since the premiere of Birth of a Nation
The thing about the Netflix rating system is that when you combine it with the depth of their selection, you reach a point where it’s weighted in favor of the movies with money behind them. Put enough money and promotion behind something, and no matter how utterly, phenomenally terrible it is, enough people are going to rank it highly that there’s no chance in Hell it’ll get the lone star it so desperately deserves.
Which is why the fact that Jeff Dunham’s Very Special Christmas Special ranks at a solid 1.5 after debuting as the most watched telecast in Comedy Central History with a quadruple-platinum DVD release, well… it’s a Worst of Netflix Christmas Miracle.
Dunham, of course–the man who was referred to as “THE ABSOLUTE F***ING WORST DUDE IN THE WORLD” in a Videogum review of his self-titled TV show–is the target of Comedy Central’s latest attempt to recapture the glory of Chapelle’s Show by cranking out another sketch comedy vehicle starring a successful comedian, and the nicest thing you can say about him is that he’s not Carlos Mencia. His act is based almost entirely on racism and homophobia delivered through a set of puppets, each of which is more pandering to his cracker-ass audience than the last, and whose lines are delivered by a ventriloquist who can’t even be bothered to stop his lips from moving all the time.
In other words, Jeff Dunham stands on a stage every night and murders comedy, and this is no different. Except that this time he’s doing it in a Santa hat.
To give you an idea of how bad this thing is, it starts with a twelve-minute blonde joke. Seriously. That’s his lead. And believe it or not, it’s the highlight of the show, because after that, the puppets come out and it’s all downhill from there.
First up is “Walter,” and with him, the first sign that Dunham himself might not be entirely to blame for how utterly atrocious his comedy is, when his audience laughs uproariously when it reacts to one of Dunham’s setups with what passes for a deadpan stare.
I’ll say that again: The audience laughs hysterically at a lack of reaction… from an inanimate object. You know, just in case you needed evidence that these people were idiots beyond the fact that they paid to see Jeff Dunham live.
As the set with Walter goes on, and Dunham starts in on the oldest, most racist, most played-out jokes this side of figuring out the deal with airline food, it becomes apparent that Walter is so popular with the audience because he is the audience, and the hateful berating he offers gets over because it’s what they believe. His “Happy Holidays? Screw you, it’s ‘Merry Christmas!'” is hilarious to them because they can’t conceive of anyone believing something they don’t, and the bit on Kwanzaa (of course there’s a bit on Kwanzaa), “I’d throw out the champagne and pull out the frickin’ malt liquor” is funny because… well, because they’re all a bunch of racists who think a puppet show is the height of comedy.
There’s other puppets, of course, including one that essentially just does Larry the Cable Guy’s act and (seriously) a jalapeño pepper in a sombrero with a Speedy Gonzales accent, but the only one that’s even worth mentioning is the one that comes right after: “Achmed the Dead Terrorist,” the segment of the show where we learn that Dunham isn’t above fanning the flames of post-9/11 hatred towards Muslims to line his own pockets, complete with jokes about “Grand Theft Camel” and working at a convenience store. But at this point the racism is nothing new, nor is the fact that his mouth-breathing, inbred, redneck,, Fox News teabagger audience eats it up like Andy Capp’s Hot Fries and buys the merchandise.
No, what’s notable here is the introduction of “Guitar Guy.”
Even more than Dunham himself, a 47 year-old who worked the stand-up circuit for a quarter of a century before he finally decided to sell his soul and embrace the racism that catapulted him to fame, Guitar Guy embodies the quiet air of sadness and defeat that runs through the entire show. It’s his job to provide the musical accompaniment to the songs, including a pandering little ditty by Achmed about being shot by the army during an attempted suicide bombing in Iraq–fertile ground for chuckles for the shoddy cash-grab ventriloquism of Jeff Dunham–which includes the line “your soldiers shot me dead / the only thing that I have left is this towel upon my head.”
Because that’s what every child dreams of when he first picks up a guitar after hearing the Beatles: That one day he can stand on stage in Milwaukee playing “Jingle Bells” while a racist with a puppet rakes in the cash. My copy was on DVD, but I hear on the high-def BluRay release, you can actually see him dying a little inside.
|Chris Sims is a freelance comedy writer from South Carolina. He briefly attended USC before he dropped out to spend more time with Grand Theft Auto, and his career subsequently took the path that you might expect from someone who makes that sort of decision. He blogs at http://www.the-isb.com and creates comics at http://www.actionagecomics.com.|