Friday, September 27, 2019

Jeff Dunham: Beside Himself (2019)

Movie Name/Year: Jeff Dunham: Beside Himself (2019)
Genre: Comedy
Length: 58 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: Netflix
Director: Troy Miller
Writer: Jeff Dunham
Actors: Jeff Dunham

Blurb from IMDb: The ventriloquist, Jeff Dunham, taped his second Netflix special in his hometown of Dallas, TX in the American Airlines Center. He returns with his normal cast of characters including Walter, Bubba J, Peanut, José Jalapeño on a Stick, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, and one of his newest additions Larry, a high strung, chain-smoking, on-again, off-again personal adviser to the President.

Selina’s Point of View:
I LOVE Jeff Dunham (The Nut Job, From Up on Poppy Hill, Dinner for Schmucks). He is absolutely near the top of my list of favorite comedians. His characters are well thought out and his jokes are hilarious. Not gonna lie, when I saw his new special come out, I just had to nix the movie we were supposed to watch for today so we could watch this instead.

So. Fucking. Worth it.

I went into this stand-up special in a bad mood, sick, and with incredibly – even ridiculously – high expectations. My mood and mentality pretty much doomed Jeff Dunham to failure and he still succeeded.

It was just as good as all his others, possibly even better.

He is not a politically correct comedian – but not in the same way as someone like Dave Chappelle (Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones, Chappelle’s Show, Half Baked) is. He doesn’t really lean into the shock-factor aspect. Instead, he goes for a more sarcastic approach.

In this special, he touched on things like race and politics, but he did so in a way that isn’t quite what people expect. For instance, when he went into politics – he didn’t really attack any one politician. It’s more like he went after the media and their method of attacking or backing people without any balance.

A few times he had some technical failures, but he’s so quick that I’m not actually certain they were failures. They may very well have been orchestrated on purpose as a part of the show.

I do recommend Dunham. People on the extreme side of political correctness may be a little offended here and there – but comedy has never been about playing it safe. That would be boring as hell.

Cat’s Point of View:
I adore Jeff Dunham’s (Big Top Scooby-Doo!, Mune: Guardian of the Moon, Smurfs: The Lost Village) comedy. My whole family loves him, really. This is one of the few comedians I would try to go out of my way to obtain tickets to their show, rather than wait for the next special to air. I did have the opportunity to attend one as a birthday present. I laughed so hard that my abs were sore for a couple days. (After the main show was over, I believe that he did a test run for the puppet now known as ‘Larry.' He was ‘too much coffee guy,’ or something like that, at the time. Hilarity ensued. I could swear that was the one…it was years ago. I digress.)

Back to the point. I’m always excited to see another of Dunham’s specials hitting either TV or streaming. We just can’t get enough of his vocal talents.

Beside Himself did not disappoint on any level. My whole family was laughing through its entirety. We even had to pause at one point to let my daughter catch her breath. (That was some added hilarity on its own. Bonus!)

Dunham’s humor often walks the razor’s edge of irreverent humor without wandering off into offensive territory. I would caution parents that language is a minor factor (the shock value of f-bombs being dropped by puppets is part of the act sometimes, after-all) and some mild innuendo; but otherwise the show does tend to stay family-friendly.

Speaking of family, I really enjoy that Dunham opens all his shows with a segment of stand-up without the puppets. He’s his own opening act, really, warming up his audience with hilarious tales about his own life and family experiences. The crowd is already primed and laughing when the main act comes out of their trunks. I really got a kick out of this ‘prologue’ segment in particular. It gave me a wonderful opportunity to lovingly razz my child about her teenage angst.

Another thing I appreciate with Dunham’s humor is that he keeps it current and relevant without getting soap-boxy or going too far in pushing the buttons of his audience. He knows just when to reel it back. Even the new wild-eyed Trump-advisor puppet made subtle political commentary without outright bashing anyone or overt political statements. Dunham’s show has a baseline of bringing awareness to racism, classism, and the war on terror with his core stable of puppets. I’d like to think of his brand of humor as a conversation starter rather than the trigger for an argument.

Some segments of his show are also so well-known they’ve become audience interactive. He really plays up on that here, bringing a refreshing element to something that would otherwise be a little predictable.

I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to recommend this comedy special. I think there’s something in there for everyone – and especially families. (Earmuffs occasionally required.)

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – 6.7/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 5/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 5/5
Movie Trailer:

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