WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Jeff Dunham brought his Perfectly Unbalanced Tour and his “little friends” to the Mohegan Sun Arena Friday night.
The show was the fourth time the comedian/ventriloquist has sold out the venue, drawing fans from as far away as Long Island, New York.
“It was well worth it for the show,” said Anthony Carotenuto of the three-hour drive to see Dunham.
“It was a great time. I never knew what was going to happen next. My favorite was Walter. He reminds me of a lot of people I know.”
Walter was the first of Dunham’s signature dummies the crowd met.
After a half-hour monologue revolving around the comedian’s newborn twins, the curmudgeonly old dummy was brought out of his box and talked to his ventriloquist about Viagra, marriage gone sour and the current presidential race.
Walter’s mention of Donald Trump garnered one of the loudest reactions of the night.
“Just trying to get a read on the crowd here tonight,” Dunham said through Walter. The crowd similarly perked up for jokes about President Obama and the Wilkes-Barre winter.
“I like Walter, so I was happy to see him,” Heather Corby, of Mountain Top, said. “I like his grouchiness; I think his bit is funny.”
After Walter and a brief Super Bowl-themed clip, Dunham introduced the crowd to Bubba J., a beer-drinking, NASCAR-loving dummy.
Dunham’s style is self-deprecating, and when his creations take center stage he often finds himself the butt of his own jokes. The comedian ribbed himself through the guise of Bubba J for everything from having children in his 50s to just the conscious decision to have children in general.
Bubba J’s other subjects of choice (putting a trailer hitch on the White House, joining the political party with the most beer and exploring the boundaries of political correctness) were, once again, hits with the audience.
Bubba J was also the first of Dunham’s characters to interact with a crowd member, albeit one who spoke out of turn.
The ventriloquist’s next guest — his longtime yeti-esque companion Peanut — went so far as to strike up a conversation with an audience member in the front row. Peanut’s exchange with Dan, a corrections officer, provided a moment in the show for Dunham to flex his improvisational muscle, which occurred again during the final leg of his show.
Achmed the Dead Terrorist is a dummy that if not for his eyes, eyebrows and turban, would be just a skeleton. These features help audiences identify and read the character — that and Achmed’s catchphrase, “Silence, I keel you!”
Achmed was the last character to go from storage to stage for a reason — fans love Achmed and Northeastern Pennsylvania is no different.
One of the show’s highlights was Dunham and Achmed’s responses to audience questions, which helped cap several hours of comedy with a bit that was part improv, part crowd interaction and all Achmed.
The turban wearing skeleton, his fellow puppets and their operator had Toni Quinn, of West Wyoming, half-dead with laughter.
“I’m walking out with sore ribs,” Quinn said. “I think he’s very funny. I always see him on TV and this show was great. It lived up to expectations.”
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts