Jeff Dunham’s standup comedy routine has been described as an act reminiscent of Don Rickles but with multiple personality disorder. He takes to the stage with a large number of specially made dummies and performs ventriloquism the like of which has never been seen before. His characters range from Achmed the Dead Terrorist (catchphrase: “I keel you” and position as possibly the world’s only beloved dead terrorist) to a crochety old sourpuss named Walter who continually admonishes everyone to “shut the hell up.”
For his latest standup video, “Controlled Chaos,” Dunham used a Stratasys 3D printer to create a decorative piece for the front of a hot rod (known as The Defibrillator) for his favorite titan of terror, aptly named the Achmedmobile. He’s not content to simply offer direction and hand the project off, however; Dunham is very hands-on and creates his own pieces. Being able to access a technology like 3D printing significantly reduces the amount of time spent on the production of a design which previously would have required the creation of a mold from sculpted clay in order to create the finished dummy in fiberglass.
In a video showing the process of making the new head for the car, Dunham introduces us to something that is a build up to what we’ve already seen and yet, he himself has not seen it yet (cue: twighlight zone music). He begins by showing the process for creating a new head as he has done it in the past. However, several minutes into the video, he says “you know what? This is stupid. This is really ancient technology. I got a better way to do this. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t think of this before.”
In order to further speed up the process, Dunham simply scanned the head of an Achmed stand in (in this case a bobble head figurine) in order to create the 3D file for print, even at 10 times the size of the original scan. Once the file was ready, it was sent for a test print at about 20% scale on a Stratasys Dimension 3D printer. The final skull was printed in six sections because of his printer bed only allows for a height of 10” per print and Dunham wanted to “go big or go home.” A second test print showed the proof of concept and he was ready to go.
Dunham then pieced together and finished the sections by hand, correcting for some minor differences between the final print and the desired finished product, creating a seamless, and nerve-wracking, piece for the hot rod. Mounted as the carburetor cover and painted glossy burnt orange to match the rest of the vehicle — and paired with printed bomb shaped hubcaps for the wheels — it all added up to an irresistible vehicle.
The video shows the entire process, in a lively montage format. A fiberglass skull was placed on the vehicle and the 3D printed face placed over it. When the accelerator is depressed, the jaw of Achmed opens…and is ready to greet oncoming infidels.
Dunham not only builds his new dummies, a process seen up close and personal in the video, and their accouterments, but also works on restoring antique dummies, all this between obsessing over model helicopters, dreaming about muscle cars (and not driving a Prius!), and messing around with technology.
In other words, his parents most likely despaired of his potential for future employment while waiting for him to grow out of his hobbies…only to find him more than gainfully employed doing exactly what he has always done. Before recently settling in to a residency in Las Vegas, Dunham spent 30 years on the road working to create his characters and help them achieve fame, during which time he has performed on five continents.
Now, I feel a great deal more hope for my son too.
What do you think of Dunham’s project? Are you a fan of Achmed or the other dummies? Let us know your thoughts about this high-profile hot rod project in the 3D Printed Achmedmobile Skull forum thread over at 3DPB.com