Thursday, November 15, 2007

Comedy Hero: Robert Smigel

Today's post was inspired by yet another inquiry from a fellow comedy fan. This fan, Loumi, I met on the social bookmarking/networking site Loumi approached me about a comedy writing interview project. (I was flattered that he even thought of me in the first place.) And I was lead back to Loumi's blog article, a PonderAbout article on outrageous humo(u)r, which gave me the idea for this jam-packed fact-filled post. So today, we will profile, Mr. Robert Smigel, revered comedic writer, best known as the creator and voice behind, Triumph The Insult Comic dog.

I didn't discover Smigel until years into his popularity on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. (At the time, I was an obedient and gullible kid with lengthy homework assignments. Don't blame me! I wasn't allowed to stay up late on a school night. Sheesh!)

And what rises from the ashes of rejection? Inspiration!...

Smigel didn't begin in stand-up, like the many other comedians I profile. In fact, his story begins in sketch comedy. Smigel, a native New Yorker, ended up in Chicago and it was there that he began his comedy career, writing and starring in his own improv/sketch comedy group. (He and his comedy troupe buddies were Second City rejects.)

And what rises from the ashes of rejection? Inspiration! With that, Smigel and company started "All you Can Eat," a comedy show which gave the stars the platform, contacts (Al Franken and Tom Davis), and balls to to try out for Saturday Night Live (SNL).

And thus began Smigel's over 20-year reign at SNL. Smigel was hired as a writer on the ever-popular show and is noted for having the longest tenure on Saturday Night Live as a comedy writer (since 1985). Whew!
Smigel (along with Dino Stamatopoulos) developed TV Funhouse which then churned out cartoon segments, "The Ambiguously Gay Duo", "The New Adventures Of Mr.T", "Michael Jackson", and the now banned "Conspiracy Theory Rock"

Here is where my notes get fuzzy. Somewhere within the SNL years, Smigel came up with Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, the name "Triumph" coined by John Henson of Talk Soup fame. (Read the Onion Article below for more on that story.)

Smigel is some sort of mad genius. And if you can't appreciate his humor like I do, well, you're probably just sane. That's okay. You'll learn to be craZy like a fox one day.

Be sure to leave enough time watch this 10 min clip, of perhaps Triumph's most famous man-on-the street Conan sketch:

If the link above doesn't work, you can always watch this
popular video from the Milk and Cookies website.

Remember, Loumi, the man who helped inspire this post? Well, he also authors another comedy related site, called Comedy Mashups that you comedy fans should definitely check out.

More Links:

  • An Onion (A/V club) interview with Robert Smigel (2004)

  • A interview with Robert Smigel(2001)

  • Milk and Cookies is a dedicated comedy website that has several Robert Smigel produced/written shows from SNL and other series. For a laugh, please check them out!

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    kevin said...

    The guy is a genius.

    Curtom said...

    Great site dude. Best wishes to you. My family is a show business family so I know how difficult it can be to break in. Keep grinding it out. Dreams do come true!

    Mile High Pixie said...

    [fanning self] oh Lawd! That Triumph sketch is the best! I'm glad you posted that--it's been a long, icky day and I needed a good laugh!

    Amey said...

    Wonderful bio as usual.

    But I cannot get past how his name sounds so like Smeagol. ;)