'The Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog' *** 052005
DVD Review (2004)


The work = ***
If you have never seen 'Triumph the Insult Comic Dog' from 'Late Night with Conan O’Brien' you will probably know right off the bat whether this DVD is something you will enjoy or not. For those of you unfamiliar with Triumph, he is basically a parody of the insult comics of the 1960s. The catch is he's a cheesy looking hand puppet operated by Robert Smigel. Triumph appears on the 'Conan O'Brien show'. Initially he appeared in fake dog show and then appeared regularly to tool on various guests that appeared on O’Brien’s show.

The breakthrough in my opinion, for Triumph's comedy, came when Smigel took the puppet to the 'West Minster Dog Show'. What is remarkable about Triumph is, much like the 'Muppets' before him, people almost always react to the puppet and not to Smigel. The often incredibly offensive Triumph tools on whoever he is around and many times ends up humping his victims. The whole thing ends up being hilarious because Smigel has an amazingly quick wit. Anyone can pick on celebrities sitting down for a blah interview but going out in the public and getting laughs while insulting people just wandering around can be hilarious.

The DVD collects such sketches and follows Triumph to various outings. There's footage of him on 'Hollywood Squares', footage at press lines and probably best of all footage from the premiere of 'Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones'. Seeing Triumph going from hapless costumed ' Star Wars' fan to hapless costumed Star Wars fan ends up being very entertaining. My personal favorites, were Triumph's comments to some of the few women he could find in line.

Now, it's pretty easy to get the gist of the DVD, it is all Triumph hurling insults and is very one note. Don't expect any variety here so if you are not interested in this type of thing than there is not any other material that will draw you to 'The Best of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog'. I will mention that while I often find Triumph a hoot, there are moments when I think Smigel missteps.

It doesn't happen often but occasionally Triumph will unload on a target and visibly make them upset onscreen. The trouble is often it's an easy target. It’s one thing to tool on someone if they are laughing and can take a joke. It’s another thing to pick on someone, make them upset, and do so in front of a crowd. When Smigel singles out people in line for 'Attack of the Clones' most of the time it is some of the best material on the DVD but a few times it comes off as tremendously mean spirited. I mean come on, it’s not like Smigel is anything but a chubby dork with glasses just like some of the guys he is tooling on.

That is a minor complaint though, as most of the time he goes after anybody and usually all those involved get the joke. This is a one note show, so if it doesn’t already appeal to you this DVD will not change your opinion. I give it a recommendation for those that are fans as I am. If you’re really curious give it a rental and see what you think... For me to poop on!!!

DVD = ***

The Look
'The Best of Triumph' gets a decent 4:3 transfer. While broadcast shows have looked a lot better on DVD I suspect that the source material for this just wasn’t up to spec. For the most part everything looks ok but some of the older footage and behind the scenes interviews.

The Sound
Triumph gets a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix that is serviceable. It’s not bad and it won’t win any awards, it just gets the job done.

The Bonus
There is an 'Extra Poop' section and 'More Poop Than is Necessary' section. Both consist of more footage of Triumph doing his thing. They decided to put Triumph’s first appearance on as well as some early sketches. Many of these are amusing but not as funny as the more recent ones. There are also some cut scenes from some of the more current sketches as well as a few outtakes. I wish there had been some sort of documentary or featurette on Smigel and the creation of Triumph. I would like more info on Smigel (he wrote for 'SNL' for ever,) and how he came up with Triumph.

All Together = ***
At the end of the day this DVD of Triumph won’t change anyone’s mind about him. If you don’t think he’s funny you won’t like the DVD but if you do find him amusing than this is probably for you and you may even want to think about a purchase. For me it is just a rental. I wish there had been features on the making of Triumph and on Smigel himself. Still the fact that the bonus footage almost equals the length of the feature itself adds value to the DVD. Recommended.


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