Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog
|Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog|
Robert Smigel performing Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog
Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog is a character puppet puppeteered and voiced by Robert Smigel, best known for mocking celebrities. Triumph was identified in the early appearances as a Yugoslavian Mountain Hound, hence his distinct Eastern European accent (although Triumph himself insists it is a regular "dog accent"). As his name indicates, Triumph's comedic style is almost exclusively insult comedy. Triumph often puffs a cigar, which usually falls out of his mouth when he starts talking. He debuted in 1997 on NBC's Late Night with Conan O'Brien and also appeared on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien from time to time, as well as the short lived TV Funhouse, and TBS's Conan.
Professional career 
Triumph's debut was in a comedy skit about unusually talented dogs at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, from which he was eventually banned (though his third visit to the show was by invitation). In addition to other dog puppets who played banjos and performed magic, Triumph appeared in his trademark persona of an obnoxious and ribald insult comic in the vein of Don Rickles. The character rapidly grew in popularity, and became a recurring fixture on the show, often mocking the show's celebrity guests and leaving the studio to harass the general public in pre-taped remote segments.
In March 2006 G4 aired a special, The Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, consisting of clips from Triumph's Best of DVD. Triumph filmed short segments with Blackwolf the Dragonmaster for the special.
On November 14, 2006, Triumph was named an honorary member of the Las Vegas police department's K-9 dog unit. The next night he performed at the Celine Dion Theater, hosting "Poopapalooza 2" with Harland Williams, Jim Gaffigan and Frank Caliendo.
Shortly after the resolution of the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, Triumph appeared at the WGA East Awards and lampooned many of the strike's key figures, as well as the controversy surrounding the decision of late night hosts (such as O'Brien and Jay Leno) to return to the air in violation of Guild rules:
On June 19, 2009, Triumph made his first appearance on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, serving as correspondent for the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee. He referred to festival-goers as dirty hippies on drugs. At the festival, he found a stark-naked Max Weinberg in a goer's tent.
Triumph appeared in a prerecorded bit on O'Brien's 2010 Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour mocking the town Conan is performing in, even though NBC supposedly retained Triumph's rights in the settlement that allowed O'Brien to leave NBC. For comedic effect, information about the town is dubbed over. Triumph also gives obviously incorrect facts about the state, for example saying the state animal of Oregon is Chip Kelly.
In October 2011, Triumph appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, when Conan and Jimmy found him behind a pillow on the couch - O'Brien proclaimed he'd been there since the end of his Late Night show in 2009. He appeared almost a month later on the November 3 episode of Conan, insulting protestors at the Occupy Wall Street movement. The segment aired on the fourth and final show O'Brien taped at the Beacon Theatre in New York City.
Political humor 
In November 2003, in the early days of the 2004 U.S. presidential primary campaign, Triumph was the "lead guest" on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno the same night that Democratic candidate John Kerry also appeared on the show. Kerry made a dramatic entry, riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle onto the stage; but Triumph, in characteristic style, poked fun at him with a series of scathingly rude remarks, to Kerry's evident discomfiture. (Among his jibes: "The poop I made in the dressing room had more heat than John Kerry!")
In July and August 2004, Triumph followed up with visits to both major parties' national conventions. At one point, he was barred entry to the Democratic convention, held in Boston. He did gain entry to the Republican convention in New York, and even debated actor Ron Silver during the wrap-up on MSNBC.
In September 2008, Triumph traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota to attend that year's Republican National Convention, where he filed a series of reports as he joked around with delegates inside the hall and protesters in the streets outside the convention. He also conducted a 6½-minute interview (at a hotel across the street) with independent candidate Ralph Nader.
In October 2008, Triumph made an appearance at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY during the final presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama. He interviewed and made jokes with political party supporters and with other members of the press, including the host of Fox News Channel's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, making a surprise appearance on her show with Mr. Met, the McCain-supporting mascot of the New York Mets.
Trademark lawsuit 
In 1999, Pets.com filed a lawsuit against Late Night and Robert Smigel claiming that Triumph constituted a trademark violation because of possible confusion with their sock puppet dog mascot (which appeared two years after the first appearance of Triumph); however, the bankruptcy and closing of the company during the dot-com bust of 2000 ended the lawsuit. Triumph responded in his typical fashion in a skit where he humped the "pets.com" dog in a restroom.
The 2003 album Come Poop with Me featured adult comedy and songs, plus a bonus DVD of live performances by Triumph. The album was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. Appearing with Triumph on the album and the DVD were singer-actor Jack Black, comic actor Adam Sandler, Saturday Night Live cast members Maya Rudolph and Horatio Sanz; "Blackwolf the Dragonmaster" — a real-life fantasy/gaming fan who had once been targeted by Triumph during an infamous encounter with Star Wars fans; and Conan O'Brien.
On August 10, 2004 NBC released a DVD, Late Night With Conan O'Brien: The Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog featuring select Triumph appearances from Late Night.
- Tyrangiel, Josh (November 24, 2000). "I Was the Class Comedy Bully". Time magazine. Retrieved February 18, 2012.
- "Standup Comedy...Seriously! Interview: Triumph The Insult Comic Dog!". SHECKYmagazine.com. Retrieved Jun. 9, 2009.
- Gold, Matea (February 11, 2008). "Striking writers put down the signs for a night of fun". The Envelope, LA Times. Retrieved Jun. 11, 2009.
- McNary, Dave; Thielman, Sam (February 9, 2008). "Cody, Coen bros. top WGA Awards". Variety's Award Central. Retrieved Jun. 11, 2009.
- "Triumph: 'Those strike rules were a hoot'". LA Times. February 11, 2008. Retrieved Jun. 11, 2009.
- "Conan O’Brien’s Tour Opener: Special Guests, Jabs At NBC". Daily Reviews. Retrieved April 14, 2010.
- "2 Kerry Officials Quit to Protest Firing of Top Aide" By Susannah Rosenblatt and Mark Z Barabak, Los Angeles Times, November 12, 2003 (page A-26)
- ABCNEWS.com "The Note", November 12, 2003
- "Broadcast Goes 'Convention Lite'" By David Bianculli, Broadcasting & Cable, August 25, 2008
- "Triumph at the Republican National Convention", Part 1 of 3 at NBC.com
- "Triumph Interviews Ralph Nader" at NBC.com
- "Triumph in the Presidential Debate Spin Room" at NBC.com
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog|