Triumph the Insult Comic Dog Gleefully Takes Credit for Conan’s Tonight Show Debacle

An unlikely late-night icon has come clean about his role in the Conan O’Brien-Jay Leno Tonight Show saga: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.

Following his return to late night on The Daily Show last week, Triumph sat down with TDS writer-producer Matt O’Brien on The Daily Show: Ears Edition.

The bulk of the interview was with Triumph creator/handler Robert Smigel, but the insult-spewing puppet stole the show with a brief intro in which he took credit for The Tonight Show debacle of 2010.

Matt O’Brien (no relation) was a longtime writer for Conan, going all the way back to the mid-2000s right through his recent Max series, Conan O’Brien Must Go. He recounted getting his start by writing for Triumph during his Late Night with Conan O’Brien days. When Conan was tapped to take over The Tonight Show, (the other) O’Brien came along, too; he followed the host to Los Angeles.

“I had moved to L.A. to get away from working with Triumph,” Matt O’Brien joked.

“So did Conan,” Triumph replied. “He took his entire crew to the left coast because Triumph is a New Yorker. That paid off!”

“I called Leno and I said, ‘F*ck that guy,’” Triumph continued, before launching into a Leno impression. “He said, ‘Right away, sir! Right away!’”

“I had a lot of pull back in the aughts,” the comic canine deadpanned.

Triumph began his life on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, on which Smigel was head writer, in 1997. Triumph’s debut came in the form of a Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show spoof, where he portrayed the winner of the long-running dog show’s Hound division. With a talent for insulting people.

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After Late Night, Triumph followed Conan to The Tonight Show and then Conan. In 1999, Triumph crashed the real Westminster (and was eventually removed by security).

In the decades since, he has made notable appearances on late-night hits including Space Ghost Coast to Coast and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. In 2015, Triumph and actor/comedian Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) got their own series, The Jack and Triumph Show.

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