Robert Smigel (born February 7, 1960 in New York City) is an American humorist, animator and performer, possibly best known as the puppeteer behind Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.
Smigel was once a member of the Chicago comedy troupe All You Can Eat.
Smigel first established himself as a writer on Saturday Night Live, where he wrote many 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 a recurring character in the Bill Swerski's Superfans sketches.
While on a writers' strike from Saturday Night Live following the 1987-1988 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 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.") His 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 satirized public figures and popular culture. It spawned a TV Show on Comedy Central featuring a mix of puppets, animation, and short sketches. Only eight episodes were aired in the winter of 2000-01.
Smigel continues to create TV Funhouse segments for Saturday Night Live and occasionally appears in films (usually alongside SNL veterans such as Adam Sandler).
Smigel's father, Dr. Irwin Smigel, is the "Father of Cosmetic Dentistry" , and the president of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics for over 25 years. Robert briefly attempted to follow in his father's footsteps and studied dentistry at Cornell University and New York University, and in Punch-Drunk Love (2002) he appeared as a dentist.