Comedian Defends ‘Achmed the Dead Terrorist’ Puppet Routine Against South African Ban
Written By Joshua Rhett Miller
Published October 02, 2008
Here’s just an extract:
It’s no laughing matter.
Funnyman ventriloquist Jeff Dunham is fuming after a ringtone advertisement based on his popular comedy skit, “Achmed the Dead Terrorist,” was scrubbed from South African TV because it mocks Islam.
The ringtone was taken from a puppet routine performed by Dunham, a native Texan, in a TV special on Comedy Central. A 10-minute clip of the comedian’s routine that was posted on YouTube has been viewed more than 66 million times since April.
And the ASA agreed. “To associate this divine inspiration to a terrorist is offensive to the people who believe in [Muhammad],” the authority ruled. Muslims make up 2 percent of South Africa’s population.
But Dunham begs to differ. In a statement to FOXNews.com, he said: “Achmed makes it clear in my act that he is not Muslim, so I’m sorry the gentleman Khan didn’t see my entire show.
“I’ve skewered whites, blacks, Hispanics, Christians, Jews, Muslims, gays, straights, rednecks, addicts, the elderly, and my wife. As a standup comic, it is my job to make the majority of people laugh, and I believe that comedy is the last true form of free speech.”
Dunham — whose other puppets include Peanut, Bubba J and Walter, a grumpy retiree — said he has no plans to retire the controversial act.
The comedian said moves like this stymie the freedom to poke fun at any group.
“I truly believe that laughter can heal many wounds,” Dunham said.
In a jibe at the South African complainant’s name, he said: “I thought Khan was awesome in Star Trek.”
“If it would help things,” he added, “I’m considering renaming Achmed, ‘Bill.'”