Jeff Dunham: Minding the Monsters (Blu-ray)

Taking Dunham’s comedy to a level so funny, it’s scary!

In 2006, ventriloquist/stand-up comedian Jeff Dunham released Jeff Dunham: Arguing with Myself. The DVD sold like gangbusters and he never looked back. His latest offering Jeff Dunham: Minding the Monsters is another live show featuring new material dealing with monsters and Halloween. For those unfamiliar with a Dunham show, here’s his patented comedic formula…

Timecode: 0-16 min
Jeff does his own stand-up routine touching on issues like his dogs and ex-wife.

Timecode: 16-32 min
Jeff brings out Walter, who has been transformed into Crankenstein.

Timecode: 32-45 min
Now it’s Bubba J’s turn and he’s dressed like Count Beercula.

Timecode: 45-67 min
Peanut…er, make that Batnut, arrives in style. After a few minutes of bantering with Jeff, it’s time to reveal his sidekick: Jose Jalapeno…on a steek! Tonight, Jose is forced to wear a Rueben costume, as he and Batnut worry about Jeff’s aging.

Timecode: 67-80 min
But that’s nothing compared to the revelation of their arch-nemesis! Achmed the Dead Terrorist closes the show garbed as the most terrifying thing he can imagine…an American woman!

For fans of Dunham’s comedy, Minding the Monsters is a no-brainer, offering a balance of new material and old favorites. I’m recommending this not so much for the comedy (which is entertaining), but for what comes between the bits. Each puppet is introduced by their own movie trailer, painstakingly re-creating classic trailers from different eras. The little touches — film scratches, costuming, voice-overs — showcase a deep love and appreciation for classic horror films and movie monster. I could have easily watched a dozen more.

Presented in 1.78:1/1080i high definition with a TrueHD 5.1 Surround track, the technical specs are above and beyond what a comedy special demands, but they definitely make this Comedy Central presentation pop. For those with less powerful home theatre setups, we also get Dolby 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 tracks, with English SDH subtitles. Parents who might want to watch this with kids in the room will be pleased to note there are “bleeped” and “unbleeped” audio options available. The Blu-ray menus are a pleasant surprise, animated beyond what you’d expect and feature lines from each of the characters.

The bonus features put Jeff Dunham: Minding the Monsters (Blu-ray) over the top. Dunham takes the behind-the-scenes concept to the limit, including five featurettes that dig into just what it took to bring this special to life. For example, one featurette deals with the opening camera pan of a graveyard and a haunted house. It lasts maybe 30 seconds, but the amount of time and effort put into this set is incredible. The rest of the featurettes are equally compelling and enjoyable. We also get an immensely entertaining commentary track from Dunham, Matt McNeal (director of the narrative segments), and Kelly Asbury (Gnomeo and Juliet) — Jeff’s friend and ventriloquism aficionado. The trio talk so engagingly for nearly the entire runtime (including credits), I found myself closing my eyes to better focus on them. They rarely deviated off-topic and were so obviously invested in the special there wasn’t enough time to hear all the stories and bits of trivia they had to share. It’s one of the finest commentary tracks I’ve heard.

If Jeff Dunham: Minding the Monsters is your introduction to the comedian, you couldn’t pick a better offering and may well find yourself seeking out previous releases.

THE VERDICT

Not Guilty.

92
Here are the top ten things we know: 1) She lives in Ohio 2) She is MWOC unless you count her two dogs 3) Believes Avatar was NOT the greatest movie ever made 4) Operates on a primarily nocturnal basis 5) Wants to write the screenplay for the movie adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Last Battle 6) Watches a variety of shows on television including, but not limited to: Castle, @midnight, Face Off, Sherlock and Whose Line is it Anyway? 7) Does not believe anyone will actually read this besides the editor (hello, Editor!) 8) Has attended more than one N*SYNC concert in her lifetime but only one NKOTB concert 9) Was in a car crash that would have killed her had she not been wearing her seat belt 10) Is in the process of catching up on Supernatural (incidentally would possibly leave her husband for either of the Winchester Brothers depending on the episode in question) and the bonus! 11) Enjoys reading, writing, laying on the beach (long walks tire her out) and assorted snack foods like frozen M&M's.
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