Jeff Dunham and Bento Box Make Direct-to-Video Film ‘Achmed Saves America’

Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham, whose primary talent is spewing hate speech without moving his lips, has brought his shtick to animation with an hour-length animated special called Achmed Saves America. The film is based on his puppet Achmed the Dead Terrorist whose catchphrase is “Silence, I keel you!” It is currently available on DVD (we won’t link to it), and will air on TV this Friday, March 28th, on the cable channel CMT. The project was directed by animation veteran Frank Marino at Bento Box (Bob’s Burgers, Brickleberry).

The main appeal of Dunham’s comedy is that his puppets yell outdated, witless stereotypes that his racist followers wished they could say aloud themselves. In Dunham’s disgusting universe, Jews will fight to the death over a penny, Mexicans are wetbacks who should learn English, anyone gay is to be feared, and black people can only be pimps or drug-dealers. He profits handsomely by pandering to regressive assholes, the ‘country crowd’ he calls them, and he makes America a less tolerant, uglier place to live. Now he does it through animation, too.


  • gamerman12

    Huh, I guess I’d say Amid doesn’t like Jeff Dunham.

    • Harry Bastard

      Does Amid have a soul and a working brain? Then yep, I’m guessing he don’t have much love for a redneck puppeteer.

  • Grant Beaudette

    Wow. That was phenomenally bad.

    Just remember: It’s not racist if the puppet says it.

  • itsadrian

    fuck this guy and all his fans

    • Close3k

      QUIET!!! . . . I KILL YOU!

  • DMacB

    I thought he was just a comedian…maybe I haven’t watched enough of his material to know why this article sounds so disappointed that he exists…?

  • jonhanson

    Wow, this is like a parody of what a right wing cartoon would look like. I mean the racism is bad enough but why did they have to shoe in the ham-fisted patriotism?

    And to top it all off it premiers on Country Music Telvision!

  • liam

    I love it. Of course the liberal PC whiners don’t. Figures.

    • jonhanson

      May I honestly ask what you love about this? I mean I am a PC liberal but the main thing that offends me is how unfunny it looks. Seems like it’s packed with jokes that the Family Guy writers would turn down.

      I may be liberal but even if a joke is messed up I’ll laugh at it if it’s truly funny. I didn’t see anything funny in this trailer.

      • Funkybat

        I honestly don’t know how anyone could be more than mildly amused by what was in that trailer or “making of” short. It makes me wonder what is wrong with some conservatives when it comes to the very concept of “humor.” When the closest thing to “clever” you have to offer is Bill O’Reilly and Dennis Miller, something is wrong.

        I have occasionally seen comedic material coming from a conservative viewpoint that made me laugh, even though I am liberal. Usually it is something that skewers one of the sacred cows of the left that I view as somewhat too dear or contrived to take seriously. Everyone on a high horse deserves to have the piss taken out of them once in a while. But truly amusing conservative comedy is extremely rare, stuff like this which is mediocre at best is more common. Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of mediocre shows and comedy bits that are either politically neutral or lean left, but the right in general seems to have trouble with the fundamentals of comedy.

  • Roberto Severino

    So glad I don’t follow this guy at all.

  • chris b

    this wasn’t funny when it was a puppet, and it’s still not funny when it’s a Family Guy wannabe cartoon.

  • Barfing

    Bento Box should be embarrassed to have produced this, their other clients should question their relationship, and anybody working for them should seriously consider moving elsewhere. We have a responsibility not to assist in the creation of this kind of gutter media. Not to mention it looks like a bad knock-off of a Seth McFarlane cartoon. I’ve lost any amount of respect I had for Bento.

    • CG Animator

      Most animators work on bad/mediocre projects at least once or twice in their career. If the project is no good you suck it up, do the best you can with it, and move on to the next one. It’s nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about at all. It’s part of working in the animation industry.

      Saying the artists at Bento Box should be “embarrassed” over a bad show/movie is like saying the artists at Rhythm and Hues should be “embarrassed” about the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies or the animators at Sony should be “embarrassed” about the Smurf movies when in reality they did what they could with the material they were given.

      • Blast Tyrant

        Thanks for saying that… Very true… I know several very talented people who worked on this… They are not proud… But at the time, they needed the work… This project bridged the gap to bigger and better things…

      • Barfing

        To clarify, the comment was that Bento Box (the studio…the people who own it and decide what projects to take) should be embarrassed. This never should have made it through their doors. But there are jobs even artists desperate for work should turn down on ethical grounds. Chipmunks doesn’t really compare to a racist show like this.

        • Bob Harper

          My ethics are in check, thanks. I didn’t work on this out of desperation, but for the opportunity. And it has open doors for me. I would be a hypocrite if I turned this down, just because I am not a conservative. I enjoy South Park, Mel Brooks and the Zucker Brothers which are all in the same vein as this specific show is.

          • May1979

            If you are proud, as a so-called “artist”, of working for this crap that is surely your right. It’s beyond offensive, but you apparently disagree. No problem. But please don’t compare the comic geniuses Parker, Stone and Brooks to this guy. He’s not in their league and you know it. Just admit it: you did it for a check. Shameless but why should a little thing like self respect get in the way of a paycheck?

          • Bob Harper

            Wow I guess you have me figured out. I’m used to judgmental people like yourself. I’m not trying to impress you nor care that you look down on me because I enjoyed working on this project.

            For the record I never claimed I’m an artist and don’t feel that any of the projects I have ever worked on constitutes art since it wasn’t my creation and it was directed by someone else. Every job I do for any client is for a paycheck otherwise I wouldn’t survive.

            If I chose to work only on projects that had to fit my checklist of the type of cartoon I want to see, then I wouldn’t work in this industry.

            As far as comparing THIS piece to those I mentioned, I never said it was as funny, better or so forth, but said it was in the same vein.

            This cartoon is a bit different from Dunham’s standup, but if you haven’t seen it then you are judging something based on who created it and not the creation. If i were to judge Johnny Ryan’s latest cartoon for Nick based on his past creations, then I would be in for a shock and dissapointment as it is something different.

    • jonhanson

      Ehh, I’ve made it clear that I won’t be watching this movie but it’s not Mein Kampf: The Animated Series. It’s hard to stay afloat running an animation studio today, most studios have to do their fair share of shit before they can get choosey. I mean I feel like every day I log onto CB to read about another studio going under or making drastic cuts. Beggars can’t be choosers.

      • Barfing

        If you have to keep the doors open by doing something like this, shut the doors. It ain’t worth it. We do have ethical responsibilities as professionals.

        • Mick

          Come on now kids, eat up your ethical responsibilities, daddy’s had a tough day refusing work.

          Vote, buy cheap products, fill up with petrol. Chances are you’re funding unscrupulous organisations. An unfunny cartoon of little consequence seems an odd place to draw your moral battle lines (on someone else’s behalf)

          This won’t create more idiots, it will just entertain some of them. Where’s the real harm? Another storm in a tea cup

      • Paul M

        Ehh, I’ve made it clear that I won’t be watching this movie but it’s not Mein Kampf: The Animated Series.

        They made an animated series out of that? Wow. Where do I watch it?

  • William Bradford

    Easiest way to get screen time: offend people, and exaggerate prejudices and stereotypes that, in some small way are or were true in some forms: probably BECAUSE people getting tired of fighting a stereotype, and then defend it by comparing it favorably to blanket, liberal political awarness. It ISN’T profound, it is just lazy; because while PC is mainly enforced because of people’s fear of looking bad or because it’s safe financially… that doesn’t mean PC isn’t always a GOOD THING.
    Being unthinkingly Mean, contrary to popular trends, does NOT mean Blunt, hard honesty. And people who laugh at it too much are usually the kind of people who like to take pride in there comfortable ignorance (often because it’s shields them from having to think about what kind of a person they are)

    • William Bradford

      Though really this show offends me far more in how unattractive, lazy and UNFUNNY it is. I HAVE seen offensive stuff that was nontheless funny; though usually because it’s making fun of bigotry more then enabling it (though sadly it still unintentionally does). This guy’s a HACK as well as hick

  • http://mattdeanart.com Matt Dean

    Puppet or cartoon, my lack of interest in Jeff Dunham transcends all mediums.

  • Ignoranimus

    Amid, I don’t like Jeff Dunham either, but c’mon, you’ve got to give evidence or something for your claims, otherwise you’ll just get a bunch of comments saying “You’re wrong, Achmed’s hilarious”. I usually agree with your opinionated articles, but you’ve got to give examples for your criticism. Otherwise it just seems like you’re just spewing baseless opinions, and it seems a little unprofessional.

    • AmidAmidi

      Did you not read the second paragraph where I gave examples of his ‘jokes’ about different groups of people?

      • Tam

        doesn’t south park do that too?

        • William Bradford

          The difference being that South Park is (giving them the benefit of the doubt) generally making fun of the people who have racist views more than actually trying to give them a voice

          • ddrazen

            At least South Park works from a No Holds Barred, No Prisoners Taken philosophy, ready enough to skewer conservatives as well as liberals. That’s not saying much but at least they make everyone squirm.

          • Bob Harper

            If you were to see this cartoon you would agree that both liberals and conservatives were lampooned as well as all races.

          • stavner

            This would be Cartman’s favorite cartoon.

          • Funkybat

            Well put.

            For my money, the best “mock them all” animated shows are South Park and King of the Hill. I actually enjoy it when someone makes fun of some of the overly sincere and self-serious aspects of liberalism, even though I am pretty liberal in most matters. Every group, be it a religion, political group, or type of industry or trade has aspects an observant person can mock. The problem is, satire and mockery are only funny if done in an original and unexpected way. Pithy bumper-ticker-worthy jabs at Republicans or Democrats might elicit a smile from those who agree and a grimace from those who don’t but they are also trite and easy attempts at “comedy.” Bush was a comedy gold mine, but even though I hated him, many of the jokes made at his expense were lame and unfunny to me.

            I welcome genuinely observant and witty mockery from those to the right of me, it just seems to be hard to come by. Pointing out how much you dislike someone’s political position or mocking their (often stereotyped) appearance or accent is not real comedy.

  • elliot Lobell

    I just found out about this asshole maybe a year ago (ventriloquism has never been an interest of mine) and the only word I can use to describe him is embarrassing. Embarrassing that this country allows people (talentless people, at that, yes ventriloquism is a cheap trick) to make millions of dollars off being racist. And his puppets are ugly as he’ll and have no visual appeal

    • mrstupes

      Really? He is racist? Is every comedian who makes racial jokes a racist?

      • elliot Lobell

        Listen, I’m not some sort of comedy scholar, but when people like Louis CK or Trey and Matt of south park make fun of race, they do it in a way where it’s not outright “I’m better than you are”

        Dunham feeds to an audience who genuinely believe White America is the only way. You’d never hear Louis CK use the term “wetback” to describe a mexican. And when the guys from south park use cartman as a racial-slur-machine they’re obviously using him as satire on the people that Dunham caters to. They’re making fun of ignorance in an indirect way.

        So to answer your question, yes, comedians in the vein of Dunham, where their type is better than everyone else, THEY ARE RACIST.

        That being said, here’s a little song:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RovF1zsDoeM

  • uland

    It’s amazing how the other- in this case Middle American White people- are not allowed to be thought of as having the same kind of self-awareness/reflexivity as someone like Amid, according to Amid. Its totally fine for someone who sends off all the right signals ,displays enough ironic distance, to make or laugh at un-PC material.Go to a Johnny Ryan signing at Meltdown Comics & youll see it in action.Amid will be there.
    This is culture war nonsense, written from a position of total moral certitude that no one would accept if it werent about THE ENEMY (people Amid has never had anything to do with that have never been to NY or LA but Amid has watched plenty of HBO documentaries about.)
    I dont think Dunhams work is funny, but on behalf of those who do; Amid, no one outside the social boundaries you like to police cares at all about how you feel about this. You have zero moral authority; you give any away that you might have when you show us that youre just looking for a pretext to launch salvos.It just says a lot about you.

  • Bob Harper

    As one of the artists who worked on this I’d have to say I’ve worked on more offensive things than this cartoon. And I am am never ashamed of doing honest work to support my family, even the preschool crud I have had to endure.

    For those who haven’t seen It, it lampoons everyone, especially White Middle America. It has elements of his standup, but the other writers involved made it more about the stupidity of racism.

    On a production side of things we had a very very very small crew and a very very very short amount of time to get this done. Jeff was very specific on what he wanted and very hands on. and we gave him what he wanted.

    Like it or hate it, it is in the same vein as South Park, Family Guy and so on. So,if you are sensitive, you will be offended. As for me, I follow the same philosophy that Key and Peele spelled out in the latest issue of Time Magazine.

    http://time.com/22993/key-and-peele-make-fun-of-everything/

    • CG Animator

      Well said Bob! You all did the best with what you had. Was all this animated over at the Bento L.A. studio?

      • Bob Harper

        The pre-production was done at Bento LA, I forget where they animated it, but it wan’t here. The crew in Burbank was top notch, everyone dug in and got the work done. And although it was a tight schedule, the production ran very smooth and everyone at Bento was really nice. All in all it was one of the most positive experiences in my career.

    • Strong Enough

      who says you should be ashamed?

      • Bob Harper

        There were some comments about Bento Box should be embarrassed and artists not being proud on working on this.

        • Strong Enough

          so you were proud to work on this?

    • Satorical

      “And I am am never ashamed of doing honest work to support my family, even the preschool crud I have had to endure.”

      This comes up again and again on this site: “At least we have jobs.”

      I can’t disagree with that sentiment in general. Personally, I would have recoiled from this, but we all have to decide where to draw the line, all the time.

      • IJK

        There’s always going to be unfunny stuff, or low-budgeted productions, or cheap-looking work, or poorly written stories, or what_ev_errr.

        Books aren’t safe from it. Neither are movies, TV, radio, video games. The reason people say “At least it’s a job” is because people try to put it down as if animation is way more sacred than those other mediums that every animated product needs to have some standard to it.

        But it doesn’t. Animation is just another medium like everything else and will have tons of crap being made with it and there’s no way around it. Even the Greeks probably told some really shitty stories.

        Rather than trying to live in a hopeless fantasy where all animation should be fantastic and European and artsy and indie, just look at the silver lining: At least I’m getting paid to make this stuff while I wait for a response from a dream studio I’ve wanted to work at forever.

        • Funkybat

          I think this is a good point to make. While the content is not something that interests or entertains me, for a relatively low-budget TV animation it “gets the job done.” I would never knock the individual artists who work on something I think is schlocky or pointless, there is some beautiful artwork and animation in a lot of shows and movies I dislike as overall works of art.

          I think it is also somewhat of a dangerous precedent for people to “call out” artists who work on things that they disagree with politically. It is a choice each person has to make for themselves, whether or not to work with someone or one something that they personally dislike or disagree with. I am pretty much the opposite of Jeff Dunham’s “target audience” and in fact had never heard of him or this character until about a week ago when I saw this while browsing Amazon and thought “WTF is that?” But I wouldn’t pillory any of the professionals who worked on it. Who knows, some of them may like Dunham and his “comedy.” To each their own.

          As for the “hate speech” aspect, I can’t really judge since I only saw this one trailer, and it may get much worse, but I’ve seen much more offensive stuff regularly on Family Guy and American Dad. I will also say that, even when offensive, those shows are also a LOT more amusing and entertaining to me (though the art style is at about the same “meh” level.) I won’t be buying this DVD, but I won’t be picketing Bento or anyone who worked on it either.

  • Steven Bowser

    Putting his often distasteful humor aside, I think this cartoon is pointless because the whole appeal of watching Jeff Dunham is that he’s a ventriloquist. They just took the puppet act out of it and now it’s completely contrived and pointless.
    It’s just like when they took “Mr. Bean” and took Rowan Atkinson out of it by making the animated series. The whole hook of the show was taken out.

  • Mike Cervantes

    There are more blatantly racist comedians out there (Daniel Tosh springs immediately to mind.) I remember a time Jeff Dunham was on shows like “The Improv” on the ’90s, and he had a broader audience. I think the real issue is that stand-up audiences have become more narrow these days. As for “appealing to a redneck audience” is concerned, I think that whoever makes this argument is telling more about their own prejudice against the intellect of middle-class America than they are demeaning their target.

  • Strong Enough

    Good for you, good for you.

  • May1979

    IJK, care to elaborate?