When I was in Jr. High I was really into Standup comedy. Much of my introduction to standup was through a show on VH1 that was running at the time. That is where I first saw comedian/ventriloquist Jeff Dunham.
The acts were given very little time so there was only one of his characters on the show. He wisely chose Peanut, the purple Woozle you see in the picture to the right. The entire act was great but I vividly remember one point where Peanut stops, looks around, and then in an accusing voice asks Mr. Dunham "Hey, where's your other hand?"
Something about that one line played right to my Jr. High Age Sensibilities and I've been a huge fan ever since.
Of Course, now that I'm older I can appreciate the act on many different levels. The beauty of ventriloquism is that it allows the comedian, through the puppet, to tackle issues that a regular comic probably wouldn't dare. That in turn gives him a much wider catalogue of material. Beyond that the illusion of the puppet being another person allows him to use a lot of the staples of the old "buddy comedy" acts where two comedians would come out and play off each other. That's an art that's all but lost in comedy these days so it makes Mr. Dunham's act that much more unique.
Anyway, over the weekend Mr. Dunham filmed his Christmas Special in Milwaukee, WI and I flew out to attend one of those shows.
As a general rule, comedians refine their act over tons of live tour dates. What makes it onto TV or DVD is the result of that refinement. So every show is just a little bit different but since 99.9% of people only see one show it doesn't matter.
But with the advent of YouTube and Cell Phone Video a lot of the material from those various shows are making it onto the web. Which meant that I'd seen each part of the new act at least a few times and each time there had been slight variations.
Because of that, I found myself disagreeing with a lot of Mr. Dunham's judgement calls as to which version to use. All through the show I'm thinking "That was great but I liked the way he did it in Raleigh, NC a little better" or "what happened to the laughing gag? Why wasn't that included?"
I don't know of what consequence this is in that most people won't be big enough fans to hunt down the YouTube videos and those who do will be such fans that they'll enjoy seeing different versions of the act. But its still a good lesson in how you simply can't keep anything hidden anymore. Do something in front of an audience and you have to assume its making it onto the Internet these days.
Anyway, just an obvious observation for a slow Sunday. Honestly half the reason I wrote this post was to brag about going to the show. I had to come up with someway to make it tech related :)
* For the record, the photo above is courtesy of Flickr user TMLeBlanc01. The Pabst Theatre warning against photos being taken was quite compelling (actually their warning against everything was pretty compelling, I for one was scared to go to the bathroom)