Stephen Colbert on Triumph the Insult Comic Dog arrest: ‘This was puppetry in the first degree’

On Thursday, Robert Smigel, the screenwriter, animator, and puppeteer behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, was arrested at the United States Capitol along with six film crew members while they were shooting a segment for “Late Night with Stephen Colbert.” Smigel and his snarky puppy were in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday and Thursday, having booked interviews, but were detained after lingering in the hallways, recording what CBS later called “final comedy elements.” Reports indicated that they were shooting near Kevin McCarthy and Lauren Boebert’s offices, two congresspeople unlikely to have pre-arranged a chat, especially as the January 6 hearings were taking place. 

Monday night, Stephen Colbert addressed the canine in the room and brought the incident up during his monologue. Yes, he sent Triumph down to the nation’s capital to speak to members of Congress, but the host thought for sure it wouldn’t be a problem. “He’s a bipartisan puppy,” he joked. “He’s so neutral he’s neutered.” Zing!

After two days of interviews, for which Triumph was invited into offices (“he works on Dracula rules”) the crew was approached and detained by Capitol police as they were grabbing additional footage. “[It] isn’t that surprising. The Capitol Police are much more cautious than they were, say, 18 months ago, and for a very good reason. If you don’t know what that reason is, I know what news network you watch,” Colbert joked, poking Fox News. 

“Everyone was very calm,” he said, as papers were filed and everything was processed, though he added it was “very unpleasant” for his staff. It seemed like no big deal until agenda-driven wags accused Triumph and the Colbert crew of “committing insurrection.” (You can see Tucker Carlson freaking out about it here.)

Colbert agreed that transgressions had been made: “This was first-degree puppetry. This was hijinks with the intent to goof. Misappropriation of an old Conan bit.” (Triumph got his start on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” in case you forgot. Hopefully you saw the classic encounter at the “Attack of the Clones” premiere.)

Colbert then got a little fired-up about how insulting it is to compare Triumph’s hijinks to the January 6 incident, in which multiple people, including Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick, died. 

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