Jeff Dunham

The Jeff Dunham Show debut drew 5.3 million viewers, making it the most-watched series premiere in Comedy Central's history.

Even though critics said it was a laugh-free comedy for dummies, the show on Thursday also posted records for a Comedy Central series premiere in the adults 18-to-49 demographic with a 2.6 rating.

Variety and The Hollywood Reporter noted that Dunham has done well in the past with specials. He set a ratings record with a special on the cable channel last year, and the ventriloquist/comedian, whose work with puppets is one of the nation's hottest live acts, has another special scheduled for next fall.

Dunham, 47, has responded that his show "has no socially redeeming value whatsoever."

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"You're not going to learn anything," he said. "All you're going to do is have a big goofy time and escape your problems for a while."

Including the same-night replays, the series premiere attracted 7.9 million viewers. It was the top cable series on Thursday night and powered Comedy Central to its highest-rated night of the year, the trades reported.