Coming soon to an arena near you -- Jeff Dunham.
The ventriloquist has embarked on his 2011 arena tour, which will take him to several continents.
Yet it was only five years ago that he was touring smaller, intimate clubs, and performing in front of only a few hundred people. That changed with the premiere of his Comedy Central special "Arguing With Myself," which introduced him to the nation.
Now only a stadium can hold his popularity.
"When we first started doing these huge arenas, I was concerned that the intimacy of the 300-seat clubs that I had grown to know so well would be missing," wrote Jeff Dunham in an e-mail interview in advance of his one-night-only show in Salt Lake City.
"On the contrary, the audiences stayed right with what I was doing. The only thing missing is being able to pick on some poor schmo in the front row and everyone being able to see him."
Dunham has always been a sidekick in the show -- the stars are the puppets. Images of his diverse puppets have made their way onto T-shirts, toys and merchandise for all ages. Two longtime staples are Peanut, a purple, one-shoed muppet, and Walter, the elderly sourpuss who berates the audience.
The popular star in Dunham's show now is also one of the newer members. Achmed the Dead Terrorist debuted in a 2007 special.
"Achmed certainly has allowed me to break through in places that otherwise might have remained closed for a while," Dunham said. "His clip on YouTube put whatever ride it is that the characters and I are on into a very high orbit."
Achmed became a celebrity, and his catchphrase, "Silence, I'll keel you," became a trademark of Dunham's performances.
Dunham's career took a bumpy turn in 2009 with the joys of a Christmas special as well as the debut of Comedy Central's "The Jeff Dunham Show" -- the down came when the show was canceled after two months.
Still, he continued to gain momentum last year as he released his memoir "All By My Selves: Walter, Peanut, Achmed, and Me" (Dutton Adult, $25.95), which landed on the New York Times best-seller list.
He also was seen in "Dinner for Schmucks" with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd. He played Leo, who was, what else, a ventriloquist with a puppet named Diane -- Dunham tours with her now. The character is a booze-filled, plastic-enhanced woman who's been married and divorced multiple times.
Books, movies, arenas -- Dunham said there is still new territory ahead.
"I wouldn't say I've conquered any area, but more that we've done really well in a few select areas, and it makes me want to make the lesser and new areas be equally as successful," Dunham said.
Starring roles in feature films could be next.
"I want to be in the next 'Star Trek' movie with Achmed as the villain and Walter as a Spock descendant. Just kidding. But that would be cool," Dunham said.
"I hope in the near future that we can do a couple of films and bring the characters to life on the big screen, plus continue to expand our presence worldwide.
"Talk of China is on the table, so at this point we're just having fun filling the dance card."
Watch a YouTube clip of Jeff Dunham with Walter: