G'morning. I'm here to pimp Triumph's Election Special 2016 now on HULU. but kind of for free at this link. hulu.com/watch/902637 Go figure! Anyway, it's received great reviews (please go read 'em if you're into that) which further motivates me to pimp away, so ask me any things you want. And maybe Triumph too. But mostly me. Sorry. I know. EDIT: Back answering more now. My Proof: https://twitter.com/TriumphICDHQ/status/700572069650501633 Not sure how that proves anything but whatever and this: https://twitter.com/TriumphICDHQ/status/700715425483460609

Comments: 1148 • Responses: 58  • Date: 

pipsdontsqueak624 karma

Triumph insulting everyone in line at the Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones premiere is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. How did that come about? Do you plan to do something like that again with Triumph, maybe for the next Star Wars or some other massively popular film, or will that be a one shot?

Nerdiest edit: I felt uncomfortable just calling it "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones" and not having "Episode II" in there. Come at me Triumph!

RobertSmigel273 karma

Thanks! Don't know if it's worth trying to top it. Will there ever be another Blackwolf? Plus lines like that are harder to come by now what with buying tickets online. I don't believe there was a comparable line in NY for the latest Star Wars this time around.

GunnieGraves600 karma

Mr. Smigel,

Just wanted to share a really cool photo of myself and some friends with you and some of your friends. It's a bit old but It's my most treasured possession.


Since I have to ask a question, I absolutely love the remote you did in Chicago with triumph and jack mcbrayer at Weiner Circle. How the fuck did you come up with those jokes so quick?

RobertSmigel307 karma

There's improv, but we write a bunch of stuff in advance, too. So have a library of jokes in your head, and on paper too, and you can pull some out when you need 'em. Holy crap! That photo! Were you an extra in a canteen boy sketch?

BklynWhovian332 karma

Hey Robert! Did you have any idea that the Star Wars line bit would be so popular for a decade plus to come?

Also, thank you for the years of minor fame. I'm still recognized to this day. Here's baby faced me, with no idea I was to become a Z list celebrity. http://imgur.com/uIw3Nr0. I'll never forget what you told me: "I'm here making fun of you guys, but I'm making poop jokes through a dog puppet."

oaoao81 karma

Are you the kid that volunteered to bang the lady kid?

BklynWhovian174 karma

I volunteered to defend her honor. In retrospect, I am glad it never went that far.

RobertSmigel253 karma

Hey! Great to hear from you. That moment when you stepped up on your own to defend her was my favorite non-Blackwolf-related move by anyone in the video.

draculabakula236 karma

The special is amazing. I love when people get lost in the character and take him seriously. The girl that accuses Triumph of being a misogynist and a typical large media reporter comes to mind. How often do people completely forget that they are talking to a roast master puppet with a fake cigar and a stick paw?

RobertSmigel277 karma

Lots of people mess up and look at the old nerdy jew instead of the puppet. The best is actually the reverse, when people lock in to the puppet and debate him. Watch Ron Silver get heated with Triumph on the is 2004 talk show. http://www.nbcnews.com/video/msnbc-news/5909216#5909216

likwidtek45 karma

My wife and I watched this special --what was it-- a week or two ago on Hulu. Granted I had a drink or two in me but by the end, my face and stomach hurt so bad from the laughing. It was magical. Seriously, thanks.

RobertSmigel70 karma

Thanks! Can't believe we did it. Like, sixteen segments shot in 16 days. I'm used to making 3 a year.

paulthewalrus202 karma

Could you share some great memories from the early years at Late Night with Conan O'Brien?

RobertSmigel586 karma

Best job ever. The excitement of starting a whole new show to replace my hero Letterman's, of doing it with one of my best friends hosting it, and working with hilarious young writers, it far outweighed how hard it was and how many people tore into it. Too many memories to list but Louis CK used to throw shit out the 30 Rock window a lot. He would throw money, and attach a note to it - stuff like "You fucking pathetic moron." So we got to watch people scurry to pick up dollar bills and the read the note. Even though they were ant-sized, their body language was enough to have us laughing for hours.

paulthewalrus68 karma

Thanks for answering my question! I think it'd be amazing to see one of those writer's round table specials with the original writing staff to hear more of these type of memories. 25th anniversary special, maybe?

RobertSmigel116 karma

People always want to talk about the Dana Carvey show writing staff but I agree, the early Conan staff would be a fascinating group to see reminisce.

24_frames62 karma

I used to pretend to go to sleep then sneak downstairs and watch every night. I distinctly remember seeing "INAPPROPRIATE!" and laughing so so hard my dad woke up and yelled a lot. So worth it. Anybody know where I can see early eps? Would love to relive the days of non-sterile late night.

RobertSmigel83 karma

Sadly NBC has limits on what Conan can archive now that he's at TBS, but a lot of stuff is on youtube.

Frajer142 karma

who came up with the ambiguously gay duo?

RobertSmigel248 karma

That would be me, Robert, when I was EPing Dana Carvey's prime time variety show in 1996. We wanted to to do cartoons on the show, and pretty much anything that make it feel different than SNL. The great writer and deviant Dino Stamatopoulos pitched me something entirely different - what if characters like Wallace and Gromit were clearly having a sexual relationship? I didn't know much about what would be acceptable to the ABC audience watching after Home Improvement but I correctly identified that as unacceptable. Anyway, for some reason, the AGD idea just came to me at the end of that conversation. What if we did two superheroes and everyone suspects they're gay? It was always more about the people obsessed with their sexuality than the heroes themselves.

noyogapants21 karma

Where can we watch old clips of this. I keep telling my husband about it and he looks at me like I'm crazy

Edit: thanks for all the suggestions. I can't wait to watch and share the laughs with my SO!

RobertSmigel37 karma

There's actually a Dana Carvey show DVD on Amazon with full episodes and some scenes that didn't make air.

LPGWDAL133 karma

TV Funhouse, the live action / puppet / cartoon / acid trip will always have a special place in my heart. In college my friends and I always used to predrink to this show on Thursday nights. Thank you for the memories. What was your favorite episode of TV Funhouse and why was it the Christmas special where the puppets snorted the Xmas spirit out of the host's spine?

RobertSmigel77 karma

How did you know it was the Christmas Special? The idea of writer Greg Cohen.

daaave3348 karma

"Get your face away from that Cheer, we need it pure!"

Here's the episode if you haven't seen it.

chesire205029 karma

Man, I MISS that show

RobertSmigel89 karma

It's always nice to hear this and heartbreaking all at once. We wrote a second season that was amazing (Louie joined the staff and added some great stuff too) and then they pulled the plug for budget reasons.

cscp20 karma

One of my all time favorite shows. Just the thought of Xabu yelling at and chasing his tail still makes me smile. Or Sames Restaurant, or Jokamel, mnemonics (your dear, dear friend), or fucking Robert Goulet's guest appearance with a chimpstitute. It was all so, so good.

Thanks for the laughs, Robert.

RobertSmigel40 karma

I would like to at least revive mnemonics and make a book of it Thanks for reminding me!

suaveitguy103 karma

What was your favorite Triumph remote?

RobertSmigel350 karma

The Star Wars remote was my favorite experience because the kids were such funny straight men and amazing sports. And any experience that affords you the chance to meet Blackwolf the Dragonmaster is one to treasure. Plus, it yielded this!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjE5WwACHgk

supermattkelly44 karma

I've never seen that video before! How did you guys get him? Was that really him singing?

RobertSmigel103 karma

We had Blackwolf's phone number so I called the guy. And, yeah, that was him singing. I love making that whole album (the Grammy nominated Come Poop With Me) but on the night we recorded it, out of all the people who performed, and we had amazing people from Sandler to Conan to Jack Black, Blackwolf was the guy people talked about the most. Okay, maybe Jack Black.

filmersup00720 karma

they pretty much pulled him off the street. they "discovered" him during one of the star wars openings (i think attack of the clones).

RobertSmigel89 karma

I still talk to Blackwolf a couple of times a month. And I archive his voicemails. Blackwolf is in the Triumph Election Special, too! As a pundit at our roundtable!

SirBrothers85 karma

Have you ever insulted someone and legitimately been worried for your safety afterward? You're a legend, thanks for all the laughs!

RobertSmigel139 karma

We brought security to a few places for this last special, like a gun show (got thrown out so we never got to do the remote) and Trump rallies, cuz you never know. But the Trump fans were much less rabid and thug like than people think. Unless it was Iowa...I loved Iowa. People were nice and mellow and thoughtful.

cydisc1189517 karma

Dammit. Were you in Ames? Would have loved to see that in person.

RobertSmigel18 karma

Not Ames

zoidboob74 karma

Are you surprised at the longevity of Triumph's career?

RobertSmigel150 karma

Triumph is technically 133 dog years old, so yeah, he should probably be dead. But we took pains never to burn him out, to do just a few remotes a year. Until now!

Darth_Finn72 karma

how did you get those PC college kids to talk to Triumph, and did any realize that their view might be a little too PC afterwards?

RobertSmigel133 karma

Not all of them knew who Triumph was. I tried my best to explain that Triumph was kind of an asshole and not to take anything he says too personally or too seriously. But at the same time, I wanted people, if they believed in this stuff, not to back off from their beliefs. A few might have played up their indignance a little more as a result. I don't know what they think, but I've tried to defend them a bit after reading some of the harsh comments on youtube. They were good sports to play with Triumph. And, as silly as some of the stuff sounds now to some people, time will likely prove some of it to be right.

antrock66 karma

Hey Robert, love the Triumph! I remember from the early Conan days the dog was named Triumph the Yugoslavian Insult Comic dog. Why was it named like that and why did you drop the Yugoslavian part?

RobertSmigel75 karma

that was just something I arbitrarily chose when the dog was just a contestant in the Westminster Dog Show sketches he debuted in. Mostly picked it for the accent. Now I just call him a Toy Rottweiller.

BloomsdayDevice46 karma

Triumph resembles a Montenegrin mountain hound, which was formerly known as the Yugoslavian mountain hound.

RobertSmigel66 karma

He really kinda does. Where were you in '97 when this decision was made? Please don't say you weren't born yet, that's no excuse.

saintanthony65 karma

Question for Robert: I was really surprised to see how game Mike Huckabee was on the election special. Have there ever been any other "celebrities" who wanted to appear with Triumph but had to cancel for whatever reason?

Question for Triumph: Do you have a dream place or object that you'd love to poop on?

RobertSmigel52 karma

We had some great people lined up for our second batch of Jack and Triumph episodes. David Blaine wanted to do a show, Buscemi, Larry King was booked, we even filmed some stuff with Johnny Knoxville and Chris Pontius, and also some hilarious old TV moms (Marion Ross, Estelle Parsons, Florence Henderson). But it became clear the show was going nowhere on Adult Swim and we bailed.

Robcyoung19 karma

I second this one. Can you comment on how he was in person?

RobertSmigel88 karma

Huckabee couldn't have been nicer. And I couldn't believe the things he let us say to his face. I wish more candidates would have realized it only makes you look good to take this dog's shit with good humor. Most ran away from us.

AgoraiosBum56 karma

Triumph: Pomeranians or Poodles?

Robert: same question.

RobertSmigel83 karma

Triumph: Poodles, as everyone knows, are among the smartest breeds, so they're consequently more creative in the sack.

Robert: You disgust me. Thanks for your question!

suaveitguy54 karma

On WTF last month, Charlie Kaufman said the legendary Dana Carvey Show writers' room wasn't that legendary because you and another, (I think Louis CK) were the only ones who got anything on. Was that the case? You wish you had used the group more?

RobertSmigel84 karma

Well, I always felt especially bad that Charlie was disappointed by the show because he uprooted from LA and was definitely expected the show to be innovative and groundbreaking. Now, lots of people think it was, and if you check it out, there are plenty of sketches like Grandma the Clown, First Ladies as Dogs, Waiters Who Get Nauseated by Food, The Stupid Pranksters, and, yeah, the first Ace and Gary cartoon, and I'd say those and others were smart and original. We also had a legendary star performer who did amazing impressions and had beloved characters. So writing to the star's strengths, which included writing for his Regis, Perot etc. was always going to be an important ingredient. I kind of take it as a badge of honor that our writing staff was so great that some of them actually felt the show was hackier than they'd've liked. Whatever your opinion, the show was following "Home Improvement" and, after the first week of ratings dropping and the network panic that ensued, I'm proud that we were able to make it weird and original at all.

suaveitguy50 karma

What made Phil Hartman the glue? Was he the best there ever was?

RobertSmigel89 karma

Phil was a pure sketch performer, his commitment in every scene was only matched by his talent. Having someone who could pretty much fill any role allowed for everyone else to do whatever they did best. I should add that Jan Hooks, who named Phil the Glue, actually fulfilled the same role on the female side.

suaveitguy40 karma

SCTV, Monty Python, or Kids in the Hall?

RobertSmigel135 karma

1) Why should anyone have to choose between three great shows? 2)Monty Python.

matt_dot_txt38 karma

What was Louis CK like back in the 90s?

RobertSmigel50 karma

he really hasn't changed much. he was quite evolved for a 25 year-old. He was already a very cool filmmaker and I'm very happy that he's be able to scratch that itch after all these years.

Fat_Dietitian37 karma

Your dad's sort of a big deal. Was he able to convince his kids to floss every day? I'm convinced it can't be done.

RobertSmigel65 karma

Ha! My dad's a great dentist, he developed the tooth bonding technique that basically changed dentistry from being people everyone hating seeing to people who could fairly easily fix people's chipped teeth or just make their smiles prettier. He's a way bigger deal than I'll ever be. But he was also a Jewish parent and brought candy home every day! Flossing was not something anyone pushed on me till my mom, who works with him, got into it once i was in my teens. It's essential, and a damn pain for lazy shits like myself.

IAmFern37 karma

First of all, you are extremely funny. I don't think I've ever watched anything Triumph-related and not laughed, so thank you for that.

What's the worst reaction you've ever got to your jibes? Did anyone ever get really angry, or threaten you with violence?

RobertSmigel73 karma

Once we were shooting stuff around the Democratic Convention in Boston and a goofy guy with a six-pack (amending: of beer) was all jokey and friendly, making Leno jokes. Then we went off, shot a bunch of other stuff, and on the way back, we saw him again. Seeing a friendly face, I went right at him with Triumph. This time he freaked out and grabbed my hand, basically throttling Triumph's neck. Clearly the beer had set in and he was in angry drunk mode. A writer, Tom Gianas, reminded me of this the other day, when "that guy's brain flooded with anger and he momentarily did not make a proper distinction between the puppet's vitriol and the puppeteer."

Marty_McFrat34 karma

Robert, through a crazy twist of fate I ended up seeing You Don't Mess With the Zohan three times in theaters when I was in high school.

For my question, what is your favorite part of the film? Follow up, are you and Adam Sandler friends in real life? You guys have worked together quite a few times. If so, is he as fun as I like to imagine he is?

RobertSmigel52 karma

Please don't blame twists of fate, just admit you couldn't get enough of Zohan. My favorite part is when the Phantom is training Rocky-style and instead of a side of beef he punches a live cow hanging on a rope. Or maybe when he and Zohan are playing Matkot with a grenade. Adam is the greatest guy I've ever worked with, kind, honest, never withholding affection or anger in the best way possible. But he's also as funny as anyone I know; he was easily one of the most inventive writers in my time at SNL (see: Herlihy Boy, his early Update appearances, his early Canteen Boys - not the Baldwin one). And yes, being around him is the best because he's not only funny but he makes you feel like you can do anything.

numeralCow30 karma

You recently interviewed some extremely "politically correct" college kids. Were they coached to exaggerate the PC phrasing? I can't imagine young kids actually being like that (having grown up during a very un-PC 80's and 90's).

RobertSmigel42 karma

I honestly dont' know the answer, as I only met the kids briefly before we did the bit. I think a few of them may have been playing it up a little bit only because I told them to behave honestly if they really supported this stuff. The truth is, the bias-free language guide, at least, has been somewhat discredited at UNH, certianly by the faculty that first put it out, and I doubt all the students would really support everything proposed in there.

suaveitguy26 karma

Did you write any other episodes of Lookwell? What was the reaction from the people you made it for? Did you try to find another life for it (videogame, cartoon)?

RobertSmigel26 karma

That was it. In truth, even in production I wasn't sure it could sustain but the chance to realize it and work with Adam West, one of the funniest people ever, was more than enough. We were too busy to seek another life for it, though I don't doubt it could've found a home on cable 15 years later.

katistrofik24 karma

Have you ever had to cut something completely out because it was too offensive? If so, can you share a story?

Mikeaz12314 karma

I'm surprised conspiracy theory rock made it to air. But it's rarely been seen since.

know_comment25 karma

Yeah- I want to know once and for all, from the mouth/fingers of u/RobertSmigel why Conspiracy Theory Rock has been written out of the SNL episode.



RobertSmigel31 karma

Buy the Saturday TV Funhouse DVD! It's all there in the commentary! On the other hand I won't see a dime of it. On the other hand I've told the story a lot.
Maybe later.

frothy_cunt22 karma

Hello Robert! You are one of my few writing idols and wish to become your pupil, but instead I will settle with some questions.

  • with me being from Chicago, when you wrote the super fan sketch, we're you expecting any sort of hate from us? Or did you think it would be embraced as it was?

-there was an episode of Conan earlier on, where the entire audience was children. You locked them all in, and if things got too boring, the room would get all red, and a scary audience Monster would pound on the doore trying to get in. The kids had to clap and cheer in order for the monster to go away. It remains as one of my favorite moments of that show. Who's idea was it? how did that all work out there? And why have I never seen that since then?

-I'm a coward and a writer, which means I'm terrified of getting on stage and working through my material. Did you ever do stand up? Or have you always been and actor/writer? Any tips if you can relate?( I assume you did improv because of how well your crowd work is with triumph)

-also, what was the process of you getting on screen for the first couple times? And/or your first couple writing pieces that got you noticed?

Thanks so much for your time and comedic brilliance. I'm a huge fan of yours, and will do ANYTHING you say... everything, but I don't kiss on the mouth

RobertSmigel22 karma

Thanks, frothy_c word

Super Fans - I expected most Chi-towners would like it, it's a good-humored town full a self-deprecators and plain old deprecators. Some people got up in arms about the stereotyping, there was even an editorial about it in the Tribune but I found that kind of posturing hilarious.

Conan kids' show - Don't know who came up with it, I had left the show by then, though I did do a Scooby Doo Clutch Cargo on that show.

I'm with you on being a coward. You have to really want it and/or believe deep down you can do it. And/or hit rock bottom with your alternate career choice. I was coming apart at college, sucking as a predental student, and I heard about a standup contest. I wrote an act and went for it, and if I had bombed I may have given up right then. Fortunately I won and the validation made me unstoppable, as far as knowing what I wanted to do from then on. Not that unfamiliar a story, insecure actor/writer is self-effacing, scared to assert himself, gets a little success and shifts in animal mode.

I don't know how badly you want to do this for a living, but if you do, go for it hard, take chances, and if you're not as lucky early on don't bail. Unless you're over 40.

On screen, you mean at SNL? I did little bit stuff on SNL from the start, I was a backup singer to Madonna on my first show there in '85. But Jim Downey put me in my own Da Bears sketch because I did the accent the best. He's a Jolietan and cared about getting it right.

david659121 karma

What's your favorite Dino Stamatopoulos story?

RobertSmigel24 karma

Dino is one of my favorite people to work with. We connect on a very base and childish level and he's an amazing giggler. It's hard to find people who still giggle like babies at this age, Dino and Sandler (and me) are the best. It's hard to think of a single story because being around that guy is always fun and easy, so nothing jumps out. It's just one long, funny story.

lolmonade21 karma

What triumph bit was your personal favorite, and why?

Did any of your segments land you in a bunch of trouble?

RobertSmigel37 karma

I love the Star Wars bit because of the hilarious straight men. I love Chicago/Weiners Circle because of the way we used Triumph, to avenge for Jack, and because I love Chicago. One sleeper is Chinatown...the opposite of Star Wars, no one knew who the fuck Triumph was and that was equally hilarious for me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cEpoHdEKkc

bergamaut7 karma

What happened after Triumph puked on everyone? One guy in the shot looked like he was ready to murder you.

RobertSmigel13 karma

That guy was absolutely pissed, momentarily. What happened was this. We were gonna have Triumph puke after biting into the hot dog, and I told the kids to clear the area for a moment or they'd get hit with fake puke. But, bless 'em, a bunch wanted to stay and be in the scene and didn't care. I double checked, you sure? And they were sure. Thanks, alcohol!
Okay, so Triumph pukes but the fake puke (some kind of pea soup mixed with unknown solids) shoots out WAY harder than anyone expected. Of course, in pursuit of the laugh, I sprayed everyone with the liquid and they were doused from head to toe. And, yeah, the big guy was pissed. But he quickly turned, as everyone else was laughing and I was also thanking people profusely. In fact, I was so grateful to these jovial drunks that I purposely hugged them all and got pea puke all over my own clothes. Solidarnosc

freezinghelps20 karma

What is your favorite triumph interaction that didn't make it to air?

RobertSmigel86 karma

in 2012, we went to the Republican convention and Triumph sang "Sarah-bration" to delegates. The verses were all fucked up but they were in such good mood and so psyched for the chorus that they didn't listen to them.
One line that didn't make it in was "not gonna allow abortions tonight, let's Sarah-brate, it's alright! Even in the cases of rape, it ain't right, No right to choose, it's alright!" I loved that.

Skadoosh_it20 karma

Will you ever bring back TV funhouse?

RobertSmigel21 karma

I don't know where but I bet I'll be doing some cartoons again somewhere to a limited degree.

xDxDfan20 karma

What are the funniest books you've ever read?

Funniest movies (or favorite comedy movies)?

Funniest episode of television (or favorite comedy TV series)?

RobertSmigel44 karma

Book...I will always put "Here Comes Snoopy" by Charles Schulz first because my dad gave it to me when I was seven and I stayed up all night reading it and it was the first book that made me laugh out loud. Movie...Duck Soup, Marx Brothers. The first hour of the original The Producers and the first hour of King Of Comedy are amazing and unforgettable. Blazing Saddles and Step Brothers have my favorite endings. The Mary Tyler Moore Show is my favorite sitcom. The characters were all perfect originals at the time, totally distinct and have been ripped off endlessly since. Lou (Ed Asner) and Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) are especially amazing.

MikeyDeezy19 karma

Hey Robert,

HUGE fan of your work and your ability to improv is second to none! The "Dragon Master" bit from the Star Wars movie premiere still has me cracking up

My question is: Has there ever been a situation where you made jokes about someone and they got confrontational (verbal or physical)? Thanks!

RobertSmigel46 karma

thanks, but, let's be clear, I improv some stuff but we have a LOT of jokes written in advance, and then I use them as needed. Amazing writers have always been a big part of making Triumph funny. Here are ten just to make the point...Michael Koman, David Feldman, Andrew Weinberg, Brian Reich, Kevin Dorff, Andrew Secunda, Ray James, Matt O'Brien, Todd Levin, Jose Arroyo.
For your q, see two q's above...thanks

Ruddiver15 karma

The TV Funhouse show, the show with the animals and puppets was the greatest thing ever. I remember when Netflix first started it was the first thing I got on DVD's. any good stories from that?

RobertSmigel26 karma

Dino has a story that sums up the experience the best. You see, a duck shat in his mouth. There's no point trying to top that one: (from his AMA) A duck once took a shit in my mouth. Wasn't funny to me, but the duck loved it. I swear it's true. It happened on TV FUNHOUSE. I was working a duck puppet under a stage that had a bunch of real Ducks on it. One duck looked down into the hole my arm was going through and the rest is history.

RyanBradley12 karma

The special is tears-from-laughter-funny as expected. I thought The Jack and Triumph show was, too. Any chance we'll ever get to see the rest of the 20 episodes somehow? How was it working with Jack McBrayer?

RobertSmigel18 karma

We had a lot of funny stories but I dunno. The AS people never really bought into the multicam, so we tried to make the stories even crazier to Adult Swim it up. I love AS but on any other network it would have been the craziest show from day one. On AS it was mistaken for hacky because it looked like something from another network.
The easy move would have been to play it up as a parody of a sitcom with more self-aware lameness. But we weren't interested in parodying sitcoms, we just liked putting Triumph into a conventional format and making it weird just because the storylines were based on Triumph's debased needs. Some people are interested in another sitcom with Triumph but I don't know if it'll ever happen.

n0tjbg8 karma

Does doing Triumph ever get old?

RobertSmigel11 karma

There are certain kinds of jokes that get old. Doggy/pooping jokes, they have to be pretty great at this point for me to do one. I try to be Triumph's harshest critic, unless it can still make me laugh after all these years, I'll skip it.

jamez5488 karma

What did Whoopi Goldberg's vagina smell like?

RobertSmigel13 karma

The Color Purple.

RobertSmigel11 karma

That was Triumph, not me. I swear.

Obvious_MD8 karma

Have you ever felt like you crossed the line too far? Or you felt like you might be in danger for some of the things you said?

RobertSmigel7 karma

The best barometer is the audience. If something harsh doesn't get a laugh, we'll generally cut it. I don't subscribe to "a groan's as good as a laugh." Groans are okay but not without some laughs to drown 'em out (and prove the joke's actually funny).

PsyRockFan218 karma

What's the nicest thing Louis CK has ever said to you?

RobertSmigel22 karma

I would suck a bag of dicks at anyone who messes with you, Robert.

TheCarrzilico8 karma

Hello Mr. Smigel. I just fell down a Smigel-hole on YouTube last night, watching a bunch of old Triumph sketches from Conan as well as all of the TV Funhouse show that I could find. My wife asked me to quiet down my laughing several times.

My question: I had completely forgotten that Triumph used to roast guests on the show while they were sitting with Conan. Were any of those particularly memorable? Don Rickles? Fabio? Hasselhof?

RobertSmigel12 karma

Yes, for the first few years that's all Triumph did, and he was Conan's most popular character. He was cathartic for people who wanted polite/lovely Conan to be rude to John Tesh.

Rickles was my favorite, even though he seemed to be puzzled by Triumph.

It wasn't till Mike Sweeney, future head writer, pitched Triumph going to Westminster that anyone even thought of Triumph doing anything but annoying guests in Act 3.

draculabakula7 karma

Would you ( as Triumph) be willing to do the white house correspondence dinner? If so can we get a campaign going?

RobertSmigel7 karma

This will not happen.

Though I would do it in a heartbeat. They have to draw the line somewhere, don't they?

ianmalcm7 karma

Settle a debate: is your surname pronounced like the Lord of the Rings character and do you have an affinity for shiny gold rings?

RobertSmigel18 karma

Nah, it's Smy as in smile and gull as in mingle. I'm so grateful those movies didn't exist when I was a kid. And that kids didn't read books.

trennerdios7 karma

This is such a quality AMA. Thank you for taking the time to answer so many questions and share stories. My history teacher in my junior year of high school would let me bring in recordings I made of the synchro vox bits you'd do on Conan during the 2000 election. I'll never forget how much the class laughed when "Al Gore" talked about installing a steering wheel on the state of Florida so the U.S. can be driven around the world, then called Bush "Drunky McSwervencrash".

Who was your favorite celebrity to do impressions of in those bits? Clinton was always a blast.

RobertSmigel8 karma

Bob Dole, hands down, is the most fun character I ever got to do, on Conan. More than Triumph. His run-on delivery and his tragic angry determined optimism was insanely joyful to play.


Who reacted the worst to the insults of Triumph?

RobertSmigel8 karma

Michael Jackson fans at his trial in 2005. People from all over the world came to support Michael, absolutely convinced he was innocent while every comic in the country was, eh, saying the opposite. They were angry and smart. they'd chant "Fuck!" repeatedly to mess up the interviews I was getting with the few fans who were cool with Triumph. It took two days, and breaking down their defenses with sun tan lotion and lemonade, to get enough material for the remote.

jimbonics7 karma

What have Ace and Gary been up to?

RobertSmigel7 karma

Whatever it is is their business.

tgieff6 karma

How do you think of such clever things to say so quickly when you are playing triumph? And how uncomfortable is it to say these things when the people are right there? You are one funny guy!!!!

RobertSmigel9 karma

It ain't all me. I always say this in interviews, but I'll keep saying it. We write shit. Writers and me. Some improv, obviously, but the jokes are big time. There have been a few times when I can't bring myself to say something and I'll flap Triumph's mouth and dub it in later. Mick Jagger at the VMA red carpet was one such case. Then I ended up dubbing in a joke about some celeb near him. Couldn't even fake saying anything mean to his face!