Achmed the Dead Terrorist is no stranger to the ways of Sin City. Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham has worked on the Strip since before his most famous puppet was even invented.
But in November, Dunham and his puppet sidekicks will become full-fledged Las Vegas headliners, with a residency at Planet Hollywood.
Dunham says he will lease a house in Las Vegas and pull back on touring to perform a show called “Not Playing with a Full Deck” in the 1,400-seat theater which long hosted “Peepshow.”
“This will be the first time that I’ve ever been in a place more than a week or two. I’ve been on the road so long, all over the country and now all over the world. Because of YouTube, there’s fans everywhere. So now the people are going to be coming to us,” Dunham said Friday afternoon, before a planned announcement of the move during his show at Caesars Palace that night.
“I don’t know how long it will last or how long I’ll be here, but we’re certainly giving it the old college try. It seems like an interesting thing to do,” Dunham said.
AEG Live will produce the show that launches Nov. 28, with shows through May 31 going on sale Wednesday. Tickets are $72 before taxes and fees.
Dunham will perform an ambitious schedule of six shows a week, three weeks each month, including matinees on Saturdays and Sundays.
Producer Adam Steck currently leases the theater from Base Entertainment, and has classic rocker Meat Loaf booked there through June 22. Steck says he will yield the lease to AEG Live in November but will present two shows — “Sydney After Dark” and “Viva Vera Cruz” — until then.
Since 2008, Dunham has been an occasional headliner in the 4,300-seat Colosseum at Caesars Palace. But he plays single shows or weekends, as opposed to the 60 or more annual dates by fellow tenants such as Celine Dion and Shania Twain.
Dunham was a journeyman entertainer who worked his way up from comedy clubs in the mid-1980s to occasionally headlining smaller Las Vegas venues such as the Sands and Sahara. But things changed in 2007, when You Tube and Comedy Central made a sensation of a new character, Achmed the Dead Terrorist.
“We’re letting the road rest a little bit,” he said. In some cities he has revisited venues from 5,000 to 8,000 seats three or four times. “That’s a lot. Nobody tours like that. Not even rock bands. Usually they give it a break for a year. So I figured this was a great step.”
Dunham and his wife, Audrey, will keep their house in Encino, Calif., but a dual residency will give him more time to create new material. “The most difficult part of being on the road is you don’t have that downtime to sit and percolate,” he said.
“The whole goal here is to not get fat and happy. You’re constantly challenging yourself,” he said with a laugh. “You wonder at what point does the career get evergreen.”
Dunham’s next Comedy Central special in September will document his performances in unlikely markets such as the Middle East. “You’re always hungry and always worried that this is it. I think most people that are successful are happy, but maybe not content. You’re always looking down the road to see, ‘What can I do next?’ ”
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.