Netflix releases a trailer for Jeff Dunham: Beside Himself. Filmed in the ventriloquist’s native Dallas, the stand up act marks the comedian's second special for the streaming service.
Since 2012, Netflix has been a popular destination for both emerging and established comedians. In 2019 alone, nearly 30 stand up specials have been released, including acts from well-known provocateurs like Dave Chappelle, Aziz Ansari, Anthony Jeselnik and Bill Burr. Given the rise of so-called “cancel culture,” comedians often incorporate extensive segments about politically correct language into their acts, with some being more enlightening than others. Released last August, Netflix’s Dave Chappelle: Sticks & Stones has mostly pleased subscribers, at least given its 99 percent audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes. However, critics had a much different reaction, thus resulting in a lackluster 31 percent Tomatometer score. Like many comedians, Dunham is known for pushing back against critic reactions.
On YouTube, Netflix released a trailer for Jeff Dunham: Beside Himself. The 70-second clip begins with the ventriloquist joking about his profession, stating that “some forms of mental illness actually pay off.” A full screen graphic then informs the viewer the Dunham will be “Speaking His Mind,” which is both indicative of 2019 stand up self-promotion and the comedian’s brand of humor. The rest of Jeff Dunham: Beside Himself’s trailer features sassy puppets and lots of facial contortions from the comic, along with a barb that pokes fun that at the location of Dunham’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: outside a CVS store. Visually, the clip is full of vibrant colors, which complements the cast of wise-talking puppet figures, consisting of Walter, Bubba J, Peanut, José Jalapeño on a Stick, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, and a new chain-smoking character name Larry. Check out the Jeff Dunham: Beside Himself trailer below.
During the summer of 2019, edgy comedians have consistently made pop culture headlines because of their on-stage commentaries about the art of the craft. The narrative took a troubling turn, however, when new Saturday Night Live cast member Shane Gillis was called out for racist language not from a live stand up act, but rather from a podcast conversation. Gillis later made a statement on Twitter, but his non-apology only fueled the controversy and overshadowed Saturday Night Live’s hiring of Bowen Yang, the series’ first Asian cast member. As for Dunham, he’s the latest comedian to push hard against certain on-stage boundaries.
Based on the Jeff Dunham: Beside Himself trailer, the comedian mostly appears to be poking fun at himself. However, Netflix’s full screen screen graphics tease yet another edgy comedy special, but one that doesn’t have the same hype factor as a Chappelle or Ansari show. So, we’ll have to see if Dunham will truly speak his mind, or if he'll spend most of the Netflix special focused on self-deprecating humor.