Jeff Dunham, the ventriloquist-comedian, must be overjoyed. The creator of the hilarious Achmed the Dead Terrorist puppet simply had to wake up February 6 and proceed to co-opt the day’s political news for his routines. Perhaps he found what I have in mind here where I did, in Gail Collins’ New York Times column: “[I]n North Carolina, Clay Aiken, the runner-up for the second American Idol title, has announced that he is running for a Democratic nomination for the [U.S.] House.” Initially, I wasn’t sure this wasn’t a joke. I think the eventual give-away was the use of “Democratic,” apparently in the interest of accurate, specific reportage. Without that designation, one would have a clear Collins-like joke suggesting that Aiken could be a Republican challenger.
And what would make more sense than an amateur hour-propelled, self-identified gay singer running as a Republican in a state where the voting machines identify the two principal political parties as “Limp-wrist Socialist” and “Tea Party”?
The reason I connect Aiken to Dunham, however, is that Dunham has already used him as the butt of an Achmed joke in his most famous dead terrorist routine (available here – at about the 5:30 mark). Being careful to tread lightly here, I’d suggest that the comedian’s well-known shot at Aiken is at worst borderline insensitive, although I’m sure that some are deeply offended by the notion of Aiken hooking up with a dead terrorist-puppet. (For the record, JokeBlogger.com recognizes at least fourteen “professional” comedians’ jokes about Aiken.)
However, being gay, having had plastic surgery (allegedly), and being a marginalized singer are not the only matters that are going to be mined for comedy with Aiken’s candidacy – not that any of those matters should be comedic matters…of course. One of Aiken’s Democratic primary opponents is former state commerce secretary Keith Crisco (“He Greased the Wheels”), and should Aiken actually win that primary, his likely opponent would be Tea Party congressperson Renee Ellmers.
At this point I’d suggest, perhaps insensitively, that just as Rodney Dangerfield used to wear what could be termed “inherently funny jackets,” there is such a thing as an inherently funny name. Be honest. You could create your own list of ten in thirty seconds, and Crisco and Ellmers would be right there (since you just read them) with Poindexter and Dungworth. You can do internet searches for such names. In less than five seconds I found Dumfarht and “Sue Yoo, Attorney.” Anyhow, I’m sure Dunham could work with Crisco and Ellmers.
Moreover, Ellmers is, herself, somewhat funny. Among her first remarks about potentially facing Aiken was: “Apparently, his performing career is not going so well. He’s very bored.” Unfortunately, the representative then remembered her political correctness lessons and expressed her disappointment that a fellow with such a great voice wasn’t supporting her. (Yawn.)
However, Dunham could also work with the notion of Ellmers as a Tea Party candidate. His puppet called Walter – the grumpy old man – could announce his own candidacy as a Tea Party Republican at, say, a Dunham campus performance at Chapel Hill:
Walter [presented in a baseball cap with tea bags hanging from it, his face thus in shadow and grumpier-looking than ever]: Yeah, wadda you want?
Dunham: Nice to see you too, Walter. I hear you’re running for office now in this very state.
Walter: What of it?
Dunham: Well, I hear you’re running against Renee Ellmers – from the right. I mean, she’s pretty conservative. She even stood on her principles for cuts to military benefits. You know, it was part of that sequestration thing.
Walter: So? Half the guys in the Army should be grateful they have jobs, let alone “be-ne-fits.” Most couldn’t spell “cat” if you spotted ’em “c” and “a.”
Dunham: You sure you wanna say that here, Walter?
Walter: Why not? Do the words “Ron Paul” mean nothing to you?
Dunham: Of course.
Walter: Damn straight – he’s my baby brother.
Dunham: Well, let’s get away from the Army. What else do you have to say about Congresswoman Ellmers?
Walter: Really? How ’bout spellin’ her own last name right?
Dunham: But, Walter, shouldn’t people be allowed to spell their names the way…
Walter [cutting him off]: No. Ronnie and I’ll tell you how to spell your name. An’ we’re gonna start with this Aiken guy….