Home TV

Stephen Colbert jokes about Triumph the Insult Comic Dog getting arrested at the U.S. Capitol: ‘this was first degree puppetry’

'You have to invite Triumph in. He works on Dracula rules.'

triumph the insult comic dog
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Stephen Colbert kicked off his Monday night monologue by addressing the elephant, err, dog in the room. Last Thursday, nine Late Show staffers, including Robert Smigel, the voice of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, were detained and arrested at the U.S. Capitol building, where they had been recording interviews amid the Jan. 6 committee hearings.

As Colbert recalled, the entire thing seems like a miscommunication at best, since the crew had been on-site filming all day Wednesday and Thursday, and had even been invited into the offices of congresspeople — which the host notes was especially important. “You have to invite Triumph in,” Colbert quipped. “He works on Dracula rules.”

It wasn’t until Thursday evening, when the crew were finished with their interviews and were doing some last-minute bits in the hallway, that they ran afoul of Capitol police. Though, Colbert pointed out that the encounter wasn’t that surprising. “The Capitol police are much more cautious than they were, say, 18 months ago, and for a very good reason,” he said. “If you don’t know what that reason is, I know what news network you watch.”

Colbert continued, stressing that everyone, including police and his staffers, were all just doing their jobs and that all parties were calm and professional throughout the ordeal, even if it was ultimately an unpleasant experience for his staff that caused a lot of paperwork for police.

However, he said what wasn’t OK was when media outlets began referring to the incident as an insurrection, likening it to the Jan. 6 attempted coup that they were there covering.

“I am shocked that I have to explain the difference, but an insurrection involves interrupting the lawful action of Congress and howling for the blood of elected leaders, all to prevent the peaceful transfer of power,” Colbert explained. “This was first-degree puppetry! This was hi jinks with intent to goof. Misappropriation of an old Conan bit!”

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog first appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien in 1997 and would go on to appear on O’Brien’s other late-night shows throughout the years.

Colbert added the reason right-wing media is attempting to spin the incident into a full insurrection is that they’d rather talk about anything than the actual insurrection.

“Drawing any equivalence between rioters storming our Capitol to prevent the counting of ballots and a cigar-chomping toy dog is a shameful and grotesque insult to the memory of everyone who died, and obscenely trivializes the service and the courage of the Capitol police showed on that terrible day,” he lambasted.

“But who knows, maybe there was a vast conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States with a rubber Rottweiler,” he added, pointing out that the incident occurred on the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in. “Are we supposed to believe that was a coincidence?” he asked, dramatically taking off his glasses. “Yes.”

With any luck, Colbert will get the footage back from police, because we feel like there will probably be some gems there.

Stacey Ritzen
About the author

Stacey Ritzen

Stacey Ritzen is a Philadelphia-based reporter with 15 years of experience covering pop culture, entertainment, web culture, and news. She has previously worked for outlets including Uproxx, Pajiba, Daily Dot, and more.