I hate puppets. I just find the entire process a bit freaky. There’s a man with his hand up a sock trying to convince those around him that his talking sock is real. For my mind this doesn’t work.
Jeff Dunham is a successful comedian…..why? I have no idea but he made $25 million one year and has his own private jet and he makes his living talking to a sock. I should also mention he is a great ventriloquist which is also very creepy. Unless you are Stephen Hawking I expect you to move your lips when you speak and people who have conversations with themselves usually are in a rubber room weaving baskets out of cooked spaghetti.
So Jeff Dunham was in West Palm one weekend playing the local comedy club and part of the deal upper management made with the club is that each comedian in town that week would appear on my show every Friday. Don’t get me wrong. Some were GREAT but others didn’t want to be there and they basically brought the show to a screaming halt. Jeff shows up and goes in our “green room.” During a commercial break I walk in and introduce myself. I said “Gotta be honest. Puppets freak me out and this is radio so there is no reason to bring in a puppet. Do all the voices ya want. We’ll have fun.” I then walked back in the studio as the commercial break was about over and I like to bring my guests in live. Have them walk in…get settled….introduce the rest of the show, let them adjust their mic, etc all LIVE on the air because I think it involves the listeners and is much more REAL.
You can guess what happened right? Dunham brings in “Walter” which is the old man puppet pictured above. Dunham starts in on me right away with Walter, “What’s a matter Danny? Afraid of an old man?” Now I’m an honest guy and I replied “Look Jeff. You have your hand in a sock. I am not talking to a sock.” Well Dunham only saw this as a challenge and tried to get me to talk to Walter. “You’re grumpier than me. You look like you haven’t had a bowel movement. How long have you hated old people?”
Well I refused to be sucked into this game and I found the tension in the room to be riveting….who is gonna turn this off? I came back at Jeff, “Look….we talked about this before. I will talk to you all day but that is not an old man. That is a very expensive sock. You have your right hand in a tube sock and I can’t engage in a conversation with something that belongs in a shoe.”
Dunham’s next move shocked me. He barked out “Fine.” He stood up, grabbed Walter, threw him….yes THREW him in a guitar case and stormed out of the studio. The sight of an adult throwing a puppet in a guitar case in a fit of anger made me laugh uncontrollably. To this day whenever I put on a pair of socks I think of Jeff Dunham. I also think of the $25 million he made in one year. Scoreboard Dunham and his sock.