Jeff Dunham, along with his witty friends Peanut, Walter and the rest of the gang, will perform at the Civic Coliseum Saturday night.

"We have a bunch of new material the folks in Knoxville can look forward to and some surprises as well," Dunham said in an email interview. "In my show, there is a little something for everybody."

Dunham began performing at the age of eight. The world-famous ventriloquist said he did a book report on "Hansel and Gretel" that turned into a comedy act much like his shows today.

"I did about 30 seconds on the book and then about 10 minutes picking on my classmates, our teacher and the school," Dunham said. "That's pretty much the formula I have for shows now: Give the audience a few minutes of meaningful stuff, then make fun of everyone and everything for an hour or two."

The ventriloquist holds Comedy Central's record for the most-watched program ever for his television event, "A Very Special Christmas Special," according to Dunham's website. "The Jeff Dunham Show" premiered as the highest rated series in Comedy Central history in 2010.

Seven ventriloquist dummies, all of which were handcrafted by Dunham, accompany him in his shows. He said ventriloquism allows for jokes that might not be acceptable for humans.

"People pay attention to the dummy and forget who you are and that you're even there," Dunham said. "There's some sort of unwritten license that allows an inanimate object that becomes animate to get away with stuff that a mere mortal never could. All subjects are fair game for the little guys in the trunk."

Dunham said his shows are meant to be carefree.

"You can pretty much leave your brain at the door," he said. "It's not brainless comedy, but at the same time, I'm not trying to make you think real hard. Just come in, leave your problems at the door and have a great time."