Comedian Jeff Dunham returns to old stomping grounds


Alumnus and world famous comedian Jeff Dunham came back to RHS to film an A&E documentary and present to students. Talon photo by Yessi Lipscomb

Megan Smith

The biggest library fine Jeff Dunham ever paid was $10,000. As a little boy he wandered up to the Dallas Book Mobile, a traveling library sponsored by the Dallas Public Library, and checked out a book on ventriloquism. He read the book, taught himself how to be a puppeteer and never returned it. Years later he returned to pay the fine and visit the school where he got his start.

While the world famous comedian didn’t have any library fines at RHS, he still came back to his old high school to film a documentary with the A&E Channel crew on February 19. He said being back at here brought back many memories of the people he went to school with.

“When we were wandering the halls here yesterday, I realized I wasn’t thinking about places, I was thinking more about people,” Dunham said. “I have a group of ten friends now that we’re still in a group chat together. We’ve remained friends for almost 40 years later.”

A&E is retiring old documentaries and re-filming successful ones due to the change in the style of their films. Dunham’s film being one of the successful ones allowed him to go back to the places he grew up to recap his early years.

“To be able to relive all this is truly a blessing,” said Dunham said.. “And I have somebody else guiding me around and paying for all this.”

Dunham gave junior and senior students a presentation for his new documentary about how he continued to pursue his dreams after many failures in a comedic manner. He used one of his most famous dummies, Walter, during his presentation and gave the audience a laugh when he made a joke about principal Chris Choat.

“He was really personal and related to the students using humor and personal anecdotes,” junior Robert Stein said.

Elizabeth Brown, who teaches AVID and manages special projects and events throughout the school, was asked if Dunham was able to come on campus to film aspects of his life that happened here.

“Dunham is an incredible person, but slightly unpredictable,” Brown said.” He wasn’t only here to do a job, but he was here to enjoy being back.”

Some of Dunham’s puppets, like Achmed the dead terrorist, are controversial to some audiences. There were some concerns about him preforming at RHS, but Dunham was able to make his content appropriate for the audience.

“He does have some preferences that may have some edgy topics that wouldn’t be appropriate for school students,” Brown said. “And there were conversations prior to him coming, and he absolutely respected all wishes and made sure everything he shared was perfectly appropriate for the audience.”

Choat saw his performances before and enjoyed him as a comedian, but did admit that some of the topics he talks about may not be the most acceptable for a school environment.

“I like his comedy, even though some shows come off off colored, he does something that is very unique, and that is what makes him successful,” Choat said.

Dunham knows some of his topics are touchy, but he intended them to be. He says his performances aren’t meant to offended anyone, but to make the audience laugh.

“Most of my characters are a reflection to society, something people will laugh at, or something people can identify with,” he said.

While visiting, Dunham donated to the campus based Eagle fund.

“Things that are unique to our campus like the magnet programs and competitions that we do that other schools don’t are funded through our Eagle Fund,” Choat said.

Dunham said he hopes that he might be able to inspire students to find something to do in life that sparks joy.

“Find a passion in life,” Dunham said. “Find something that you wake up every morning and want to become better at.”