Robert Smigel

Robert Smigel

Infobox actor
name = Robert Smigel

caption =
birthdate = birth date and age|1960|2|7
birthplace = New York City

Robert Smigel (born February 7 1960) is an American humorist, comedian and writer known for his "Saturday Night Live" "TV Funhouse" cartoon shorts and as the puppeteer behind Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. Smigel was once a member of the Chicago comedy troupe "All You Can Eat".


Early life

Smigel was born in New York City, the son of Irwin Smigel, DDS, "The Father of Cosmetic Dentistry", [ [ New York Cosmetic Dentistry with Dr. Irwin Smigel ] ] and the founder and president of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics. For a time, Smigel followed in his father's footsteps and studied dentistry at Cornell University and New York University; in the Adam Sandler feature film "Punch-Drunk Love" (2002), Smigel played a dentist.


Smigel first established himself as a writer on "Saturday Night Live" by joining the writing staff when Lorne Michaels returned as executive producer for the 1985-1986 season. After the 1985-1986 season proved to be a disappointment with critics, in the ratings, and with Brandon Tartikoff (who was planning to have SNL cancelled by the last episode of season 11 due to its sliding ratings), [ [ SNL Transcripts: Anjelica Huston & Billy Martin: 05/24/86 ] ] Lorne fired most of the castmembers and writers, retained the castmembers and writers who were standouts during the otherwise dismal season (Smigel being one of them), and hired new ones for the 1986-1987 season. This is when Smigel began to write more memorable sketches, including one where host William Shatner urged worshipful attendees at a "Star Trek" convention to "get a life." Smigel rarely appeared on screen, although he was credited as a feature player in the early 1990s and has played a recurring character in the "Bill Swerski's Superfans" sketches.

While on a writers' strike from "Saturday Night Live" following the 1987–88 season, Smigel wrote for an improvisational comedy revue in Chicago with fellow "SNL" writers Bob Odenkirk and Conan O'Brien called "Happy Happy Good Show".

Smigel co-wrote "Lookwell" with Conan O'Brien for NBC. The pilot never went to series, but it has become a cult hit and has screened live at "The Other Network", a festival of un-aired TV pilots produced by Un-Cabaret, featuring live and taped intros by Smigel. Smigel later became the first head writer at "Late Night with Conan O'Brien", where he created numerous successful comedy bits, including one where Smigel performed only the lips of public figures which were superimposed on photos of the actual people. (This technique was pioneered on the "Clutch Cargo" cartoon series as a cost-saving measure, and was known as Syncro-Vox.)

Smigel's most famous creation, however, is the foul-mouthed puppet Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, who mercilessly mocks celebrities and others in the style of a Borscht Belt comedian. Smigel also wrote and performed on the short-lived "Dana Carvey Show".

Smigel continued to establish himself on "Saturday Night Live" by producing infamous, provocative, short animated segments under the title "TV Funhouse", which usually satirizes public figures and popular culture. It spawned a TV show on Comedy Central featuring a mix of puppets, animation, and short sketches. Although only eight episodes were aired (during the winter of 2000 - 2001) Smigel continues to create "TV Funhouse" segments for "Saturday Night Live" and occasionally appears in films (usually alongside "SNL" veterans such as Adam Sandler). According to interviews, Smigel helped punch up the scripts for "Little Nicky" and the "Wedding Singer". He was also in Wayne's World 2 and played as a Super Nerd in a concert backstage. His contributions were uncredited.

Currently, Smigel is working on an animated sitcom for FOX called "Animals". FOX has not made any official statement regarding the show. Additionally, Smigel played a gay mailman in the Adam Sandler film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.

Smigel, along with Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow, wrote the script for the film "You Don't Mess with the Zohan". The film was released June 6, 2008. Smigel is also one of the executive producers of the film, which is a first for him despite his frequent collaborations with Sandler.

Smigel has a child with autism, and is active in raising money for New York-based autism services.

Recurring characters on SNL

*Carl Wollarski, from "Bill Swerski's Superfans"
*Hank Fielding, a two-time Weekend Update commentator
*One of the Hub's Gyros employees
*Rob Schnieder's sidekick in the naked baseball skit.

Celebrity impersonations on SNL

*Alan Dershowitz

Further reading

*"Triumph Sniffs a Hit" by Frank DiGiacomo, "The New York Observer", October 20, 2003.


External links

* [ Official website of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog]
*imdb name|id=0806912|name=Robert Smigel
* [ Interview with The AV Club]

NAME=Smigel, Robert
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Humorist, performer
DATE OF BIRTH=February 7, 1960
PLACE OF BIRTH=New York City, New York, United States

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