BANGOR, Maine — Jeff Dunham is coming to Bangor, and he’s bringing several of his friends with him.
The man whom Time magazine called “the most popular comedian in the United States,” will trade barbs, one-liners and political satire for bass riffs, drum solos and music as the first comedian to play in Bangor’s Waterfront Concerts series.
The successful ventriloquist and comedian — and signature characters Walter the grumpy retiree, Achmed the Dead Terrorist, Bubba J the beer-swilling redneck, Jose Jalapeno from south of the border, Melvin the Superhero Guy, Sweet Daddy D and Peanut the hyperactive, purple-skinned “woozle” — will perform at the Bangor Waterfront Pavilion on Railroad Street on at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7.
Dunham, who graduated from Baylor University before trying his hand as a professional comedian, was named the top-grossing standup comedian nationally in 2009 and 2010 by Pollstar, a concert industry trade magazine that charts concerts and comedy tours.
“He’s selling out arenas and doing really big business across the country. It makes him ideally suited for a venue like Waterfront,” said Waterfront Concerts promoter Alex Gray. “And he’s not a giant potty-mouth. There have been a lot of articles and talk about loud noise at the waterfront and we didn’t want anyone who’d come in and rain a bunch of F-bombs during their show.”
Forbes has included Dunham in its Celebrity 100 list of the most powerful entertainers for two consecutive years and listed him as the third-highest-paid comedian in the U.S. after Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock. He reportedly earned approximately $30 million in 2008-09.
Tickets are $83.75 and $43.75 (not including applicable service fees) and may be purchased by phone (783-2009), online (www.waterfrontconcerts.com) and in person at Mark’s Music in Brewer as well as The Colisee arena in Lewiston.
“The Jeff Dunham Show” limited-run series premiered as the highest-rated series in Comedy Central’s history with 5.3 million viewers. Dunham sold more than 6 million DVD recordings of his performances and his YouTube videos have received more than 500 million views. He also has founded his own independent company to produce, finance and distribute all of his projects.
In 2008, Dunham’s third Comedy Central special, “A Very Special Christmas Special,” attracted 6.6 million viewers to make it the cable channel’s most-watched program ever.
The 48-year-old Dunham has sold out arenas around the world, including Houlton’s Millar Arena a few years ago and multiple shows annually at the Hampton Beach Grand Ballroom and Casino in New Hampshire.
“New England is a popular place with at lot of comedians coming out of this region,” said Gray.
Dunham, who was born in Dallas, Texas, was introduced to ventriloquism at the age of 8 when his parents gave him a Mortimer Snerd doll and how-to-be-a-ventriloquist album for Christmas. He started performing for audiences as a teen and first appeared on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” in 1990.
While iconic characters like Walter, Peanut and Jose surely will be on hand, Dunham’s current tour also will reportedly debut some new characters.