Triumph the Insult Comic Dog hits the 2016 presidential primary trail for Hulu and Funny or Die
“Thank you and welcome to the Triumph 2016 Election Special. This year, America is faced with one of the most critical choices in this country’s history,” says Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, “for me to poop on.”
As he spits out one cigar to chew on another, Triumph continues:
“For a story of this magnitude, the coverage you find on network and cable news simply won’t do. We live in an age where what passes as reporting is simply Re-Tweeting the latest soundbite. But that’s not the Hulu way.”
The Hulu way, as expressed by Triumph and produced by Funny or Die in Triumph's Election Special 2016 released on the eve of the New Hampshire primary, took the insult comic dog, his puppetmaster Robert Smigel and his crew to Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina over the past few weeks -- roasting as many presidential candidates as he could in person and tickling the fancies of many more journalists and potential voters along the way.
“This is the stupidest project I’ve ever worked on,” Smigel said last week as he screened footage for audiences in New York City who served as both live laugh tracks and focus groups to locate the laughs (disclosure: you even can hear my peculiar cackle at certain points).
Which helped tremendously in trimming this special down from several hours of footage to a digestible length of 90 minutes.
The Democratic Party granted him full access to the debate room for the fourth debate – which then still included three candidates, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley.
And Mike Huckabee hadn't yet dropped out of the Republican primary campaign when he played nice with Triumph for debate prep. What jokes Huckabee will and won't tell is telling in itself. The Ted Cruz segment hit hardest for me for obvious personal reasons. And also for Triumph memorizing Cruz’s stump speech. Chris Christie receives the focus of two bits: one staged; the other, meant to be but becomes really funny when it gets real.
With Hulu and Funny or Die funding, Triumph also gets to show off what he can do with a bigger budget, including his own tour bus, a drone, and customized merchandise for sale that may or may not help the campaigns of Cruz and Donald Trump.
That said, Triumph still fits in the “Dell Dude” and opinions from former American Idol contestant Sanjaya Malakar (covering the hair that made him memorable) and "Blackwolf the Dragonmaster" (whom Triumph met during a 2002 segment for Late Night with Conan O'Brien) alongside those of Alan Dershowitz and Ed Schultz. And Triumph takes a back seat at times to let others do the roasting -- from a couple of volunteers for hire, to a cadre of faux FOX News reporters who prove to be even more devious pranksters than Jimmy Kimmel Live's correspondent crew.
How outlandish can FOX News sound before viewers stop buying it hook, line and stinker? The answer sadly will not surprise you. Although it may force you to question whether everyone eligible to vote should do so.
Although Rand Paul and Rick Santorum come out looking and sounding better than the average voter when provoked with such impromptu incredulity. “That sounds like the dumbest thing I ever heard,” Paul says in a most succinct soundbite to a purported Trump plan as put forward misleadingly by one of Triumph's hired FOX guns.
And pity poor Ben Carson. Even before Carson couldn't enter last weekend's presidential debate on cue, how must he feel knowing Tim Meadows has fooled a diner full of Iowans into thinking Meadows was Carson.
When the candidates are such jokes, though, how can the voters take this election seriously? And how can we get them to before it's too late?
Here's hoping Triumph the Insult Comic Dog changes a few hearts and minds. And poops on the rest.