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Widely known for his “Saturday TV Funhouse” skits on SNL, Robert Smigel brought his most famous creation, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, to Comic-Con International to promote his upcoming live-action series on Adult Swim. Along for the ride were his co-star Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) and executive producer Michael Koman (Nathan For You).
McBrayer and Triumph previously teamed up in 2012 for a Conan sketch in which they visited Chicago’s famously abusive hot dog stand the Weiners Circle. In the new comedy, created by Smigel, McBrayer will play Jack, the child star of a Lassie-like television series who’s brought drawn into a world of decadence by his co-star (Triumph). Now, 15 years later, Jack seemingly has life together, only for Triumph to come back into his life.
Before the panel began, the stars and producer sat down with reporters for a brief discussion. Smigel immediately cracked jokes about whether he should stay in character as Triumph for an interview. Throughout the course the discussion and the panel, Smigel switched freely between his own voice and Triumph’s, which was somewhat unsettling when he didn’t use the puppet.
Asked how far along they were on production, Koman said the show wasn’t scheduled to begin shooting until Aug. 7. However, Smigel said, “I am very far along as far as in spending the money I was paid by Adult Swim.”
“He took his wad and blew it on a Supercuts,” McBrayer interjected.
Triumph’s earlier viral videos won’t be integral to the series, Koman said, explaining that he’s “sort of the same character, but in this show, he isn’t a stand-up comedian. Triumph isn’t an insult comic.”
While McBrayer’s Jack wants to give up show business, Triumph will do everything he can to draw him back in. “It’s as if Triumph is a Wayans brother and is getting his own sitcom,” Smigel said.
Asked how he feels about being at Comic-Con, Smigel, in Triumph’s voice, replied, “It’s not disturbing. I’ve smelled worse things. … The smells here are amazing, it’s almost as if a slaughterhouse has an armpit.”
Soon after, the conversation moved to the ballroom of the San Diego Hilton, where Smigel donned his Triumph puppet, got behind the table, and convinced the entire audience to stand up in their chairs to stretch and exercise by doing just jumping jack. “We are bettering ourselves at a nerd pace!” he laughed.
The origin of the new show can be traced back the 2012 Conan sketch. When it came time to shoot the bit, Conan O’Brien was unavailable so they recruited McBayer because, as Koman explained, “We needed a nice guy to get yelled at.”
In the sketch, which you can watch below, McBrayer is berated by employees of the Weiners Circle. Angrily, he leaves, only to return with Triumph to put the employees in their place. The result was so entertaining they wanted to continue it as a show. However, this time, it will be a full-fledged multi-camera sitcom shot in front of an audience.
Again describing the show, Smigel compared it to Diff’rent Strokes, with Triumph as Todd Bridges and McBayer as Gary Coleman, because Triumph is always getting his friend in trouble.
Although the show is on Adult Swim, it’s expected to air well before midnight. In addition, it won’t be as vulgar or as adult-oriented as the original Weiners Circle sketch, won’t exactly be “family-friendly” either.
McBrayer and Smigel, as Triumph, decided to give the audience a taste of what’s to come with a series of jokes and a sing-along. For example:
Triumph: Say Jack, How was your day?
Triumph: What’s brown and sticky?
McBrayer: (apprehensively) What?
Triumph: A stick!
McBrayer: (relieved) Ooooooh
The cheesy jokes continued, funny for their unexpected tameness and McBrayer’s exasperated reactions.
Smigel/Triumph soon moved onto a song he came up with about dogs and cats. All that needs to be said is that by the end of the panel, Triumph had the whole crowd singing, “Cats are cunts! Cunts are cats! So spread the word through your own habitat!”
McBrayer had only one reaction: “This is my life now.”