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Comedian and Richardson native Jeff Dunham, right, and angry old man Walter will film their next Netflix special in June at the American Airlines Center.EXPAND
Comedian and Richardson native Jeff Dunham, right, and angry old man Walter will film their next Netflix special in June at the American Airlines Center.
courtesy Personal Publicity

Comedian Jeff Dunham Will Film His Next Netflix Special in Dallas, His Hometown

Comedian and ventriloquist Jeff Dunham is about to film his 10th comedy special, and he's decided to film it in the place where he got his start in show business.

"It's a homecoming for me," Dunham says from his home in Los Angeles. "It's like, 'Why in the world have I never done this?'"

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Because of the massive response for ticket sales, Dunham says he's decided to move his upcoming, sold-out show on Feb. 16 at the American Airlines Center to June 21 and add a second show on June 22 to accommodate his hometown fans. He's also going to shoot his next Netflix special at the AAC during both of his June shows.

Dunham has become a massive draw since his comedy club days in the '80s, '90s and early 2000s. Ten years ago, he graduated his tours to theaters and arena spaces like the AAC. He ranked ninth on the Forbes list of the highest-paid comedians for 2018 alongside other familiar names like Ricky Gervais, Dave Chappelle and Jerry Seinfeld.

However, he's never shot a comedy special in an arena space. Dunham says that since he already wanted to move his February show so he could provide DFW with an extra show, the decision was easy.

"I just knew the next Netflix special was coming, and I always pick the city in the tour, and I thought, 'Wait a second, why have I never ever done my hometown where I always began?'" Dunham says. "The audiences are always great, and we always pick a theater, but we've never done an arena and all my shows for the past 10 years have been nothing but arenas, so why in the world would I not put on tape what I've been doing for a decade?"

Dunham started his comedy and ventriloquism career in his hometown of Richardson in the 1970s starting at churches, Kiwanis club meetings and Cub Scout banquets before attending college at Baylor and flying back and forth between Waco and Los Angeles to start his comedy career. As a teenager in Richardson, he found work as a ventriloquist in local car dealership commercials, Six Flags Over Texas in the park's Southern Palace, and comedy clubs like the now-closed Comedy Corner.

"In the late '70s, I remember as a high school kid being invited to perform over there," Dunham says. "I was underage and I wore a suit coat and a tie. It was my first exposure to doing shows at comedy clubs."

Because the June shows are special for Dunham, he wanted to make sure as many of his fans as possible could see it.

"I look at it like a business," he says. "I give customers what they want and are expecting, and at the same time, I throw something in they're not expecting."

Dunham has a few extra treats for his time in Dallas. Dunham says he will film another special about his career and life for A&E's Biography Channel while he's in town touring his old haunts and visiting with friends, family and mother Joyce, who still lives in Richardson. He'll also bring two new puppet characters he's added to his long lineup that includes the hyperactive Woozle Peanut, the grumpy Walter and Jose Jalapeno (on a stick).

The new characters include Larry, who works as President Trump's Twitter adviser and who, obviously, will look "disheveled and had no sleep and just trying to keep up," and a politically polar-opposite pair of conjoined twins named Rich and Happy with two mechanical heads that can act independently with one operator at the controls.

"I build the dummies myself, and it was all a mechanical nightmare," Dunham says about Rich and Happy. "Both have eyes and eyebrows that move, and they can talk at the same time. It's gonna take a lot of practice at a good number of shows between now and then."

Dunham says he's excited to bring his comedy back to the place that gave him his start.

"It’s pretty fantastic," he says. "It's not the end. I've still got a few more years in me touring, but to come back and do it there, I don’t think I could beat that. This doesn’t feel like just another show. This is pretty special."

Ticket-holders who purchased seats for Dunham's February show will be able to use them to get into the June shows. Tickets for Dunham's new show dates will go on sale this Friday at JeffDunham.com.

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