Triumph at Comic-Con: A Peek Into the Sausage Factory of Insult Comedy
The ubiquity of digital cameras may be a bane for some, but I kind of dig how you can see how thanks to web video you can see Robert Smigel at work as Triumph. Watching this you realize how much of a remote like this can come together in the editing.
First up, the actual piece as it aired on Conan:
Now, here’s some footage taken of Smigel while he looked for lines to lay on these guys. Turns out he wasn’t prepared for the guys dressed as Spartans from 300.
So, no gay jokes on his assorted pages of notes. I’m not sure how common it is that he needs those pages. Smigel may not have all that instantaneous knowledge of the fandom that makes for speedy recall of one liners. But he definitely would always be prepped with some pre-written lines based on whoever he expected to show up at any event Triumph was covering. Do you think he needs those notes on other Triumph shoots?
I’m sure it’s also pretty obvious from other remotes but the great thing about having a puppet character means that Smigel can drop in a better line later or, in the case of this clip, cut in the second time he told the joke. You can do that with coverage and editing with a live person, but so much easier here. No need to sync with Triumph’s lips whatsoever.
Next more of the Bomber-Man character.
And someone who didn’t make the cut of the finished piece (along with a piece at the beginning of a different big guy not in costume).
I love how he repeats the same “goo” punchline - he’s not going with laughs from con-goers. He’s going for laughs from the studio audience. So if it falls like a brick here, who cares? They’re cutting the next second anyway (if, or course, they had used that).