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Triumph Creator Robert Smigel on Conventions, Emmys and Roger Ailes

Triumph Creator Robert Smigel on Conventions,
Rob Latour/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Robert Smigel created Triumph the Insult Comic Dog in 1997 to make brief appearances on “Late Night With Conan O’Brien.” Nearly two decades later, Triumph is Smigel’s signature creation and the subject of an upcoming Hulu special, “Triumph’s Summer Election Special 2016,” which finds Smigel bringing his foul-mouthed puppet to the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

Smigel believes that Triumph and the current election season are uniquely suited to each other.

“I was trying to figure out bigger things, a Las Vegas show,” Smigel said. Then Donald Trump entered the race and outlets such as the Wall Street Journal and MSNBC began referring to the candidate “Trump the Insult Comics Dog.” “I started to realize that now that the tone of politics is taking this nasty turn, it might be fun to see how Triumph fits in.”

In the special, Triumph does bits such as planting fake Fox News reporters on the convention floor and photobombing the CNN convention set.

Smigel also brought a Roger Ailes impersonator with him to the Republican convention.

“I actually gained more access by walking [with the Ailes impersonator],” Smigel said. “There are areas I wasn’t supposed to go. I’m holding Triumph, and people know Triumph. They’re still stopping me. And then I was like, ‘I’m with Roger Ailes.’ And they would really let me in.”

The summer election special is a follow-up to Smigel’s previous Hulu special, which focused on the primary campaigns and was nominated for an Emmy for outstanding writing in a variety special. Smigel said he expects to take Triumph with him to the Emmys.

“I’m a member of the academy, and there’s no stipulation that you can’t put your hand up anything’s ass and still go to the Emmys, no matter what you shove your hand up” Smigel said. “So I’ll probably bring Triumph just to be an asshole. We’ll make a remote out of it.”