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Patriot Center (Fairfax, VA)
– Words by Jeff DeFord / Photos by Craig Hunter Ross –

Jeff Dunham - Photo by Craig Hunter Ross

Note to artists, like comedian Jeff Dunham for instance, when it comes to scheduling future concerts at the Patriot Center in suburban Fairfax, Virginia, just outside Washington D.C.

Do not, and I emphasize this, DO NOT start your shows at 7 PM, especially on a weekday. The snarling traffic is nothing but a recipe for disaster more commonly referred to as ‘carmeggedon’! Thousands will miss the start of your concert as they curse the congested road conditions and the artist as they wonder who in their right mind would schedule such an early start to a performance. It’s the type of angst you don’t want your audience to experience, especially since this is supposed to be a joyous occasion and everyone has paid good money to see you in action.
After what seemed like an eternity in the car crawling down Braddock Avenue – and repeated on Ox, Roberts and Sideburn avenues as well – towards George Mason University where the venue is located, I arrived predictably late. I was relieved to find out that comedian Jeff Dunham had the foresight to delay the start of his 7 PM show by 30 minutes to accommodate the late arrivals. By the time I had reached my seat, I was definitely in need of some comic relief. And that’s exactly what I got.

The concert begins with a brilliantly created short film covering a day in the life of the various personalities accompanying Jeff Dunham on this tour, including Peanut, the curmudgeon Walter, Little Jeff, Jose Jalapeno and off course Achmed the Dead Terrorist. Not only is the clip extremely funny, you forgot the miserable adventures you undertook just to attend this show. It was the perfect way to cheer up a previous foul mood.

Afterwards, the comic himself appears on stage to do about a 20-minute monologue. I hate to admit this, but the ad lib moments when Dunham started poking fun at people who arrived even later than I did was quite humorous. Seriously, you couldn’t help but laugh at the misadventures motorists undertook making their way to the Patriot Center. It’s not like you had any chance of staying mad once you were here. The stand-up routine featured a lot of funny family observations including personal photos taken over the years. I also want to give kudos to the comedian for doing research on the area to better ingratiate himself with the crowd. It was a very nice touch and it definitely helped set the tone for the rest of the evening’s performance.
From the moment the show begins to the very end, you are going to find yourself on one nonstop laugh track. Since this was my first experience with the comic genius, I was genuinely surprised at how entertaining the overall production was, and how clever the routines flowed from one segment to the other. And here’s another element that afterwards, I found amazing. For almost two and a half hours, I was on a continuous loop of laughter watching the action onstage – or the giant video screens on each side of the stage – unfold before my eyes.

The main entertainment, obviously, is the support case Dunham brings on the road with him. Without a doubt, he’s a brilliant ventriloquist. I’m still in awe at what he was able to do on that stage with his sidekicks. His first guest was Achmed the Dead Terrorist, which still makes me chuckle every time I say the name. From there, an assortment of characters appeared including a new member of the crew, The Coffee Guy. I’m not going to break down the bits or give away some of the funniest moments of the show because overall, the whole thing was hilarious. You seriously have to actually be there to get the full effects of this truly brilliant artist.

If you bring young adults or kids with you, and there were quite a few in this audience, expect to cringe a few times because of the coarse language and sexual innuendos used during various monologues. Otherwise, it was a perfect evening of side-splitting entertainment.

To put it simply, Jeff Dunham has the uncanny ability to make an audience believe his onstage acquaintances are quite real. You’d never suspect he is throwing his voice because of the immediate rapport he establishes with the characters. The rapid fire one-liners you are constantly bombarded with leaves you constantly rolling in the aisles. After a while of watching this interaction, you start to wonder if Jeff Dunham isn’t actually the dummy himself.

That observation right there is the genius of this comedian and his overall act. It’s also the reason why he plays arenas and not comedy clubs. The egos in the room are just too big to perform in confined spaces. And that’s no laughing matter.

Jeff Dunham - Photo by Craig Hunter Ross

2014 Tour Dates

Jan. 8 – Nashville, TN
Jan. 9 – Atlanta, GA
Jan. 10 – Birmingham, AL
Jan. 11 – Columbia, SC
Jan. 22 – New Orleans, LA
Jan. 23 – Pensacola, FL
Jan. 24 – Jacksonville, FL
Jan. 25 – Sunrise, FL
Jan. 26 – Daytona Beach, FL

Feb. 5 – Minneapolis, MN
Feb. 6 – Milwaukee, WI
Feb. 7 – St. Charles, MO
Feb. 8 – Wichita, KS
Feb. 9 – Lincoln, NB
Feb. 13 – Kansas City, MO
Feb. 14 – Little Rock, AR
Feb. 15 – Dallas, TX
Feb. 22 – Rancho Mirage, CA
Feb. 26 – Des Moines, IA
Feb. 27 – Moline IL
Feb. 28 – Champaign, IL

Mar. 1 – Southaven, MS
Mar. 13 – Las Cruces, NM
Mar. 14 – Phoenix, AZ
Mar. 15 – Rio Rancho, NM
Mar. 16 – Loveland, CO
Mar. 26 – Portland, OR
Mar. 27 – Nampa, ID
Mar. 29 – Reno, NV
Mar. 30 – Sacramento, CA

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