Despite having moved on from late night to Hulu specials, Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, is still owned by NBC Universal. And the company has been making money off the hand puppet and his projects all along.
Since debuting on NBC’s “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” in 1997, Triumph has appeared on “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien,” TBS’s “Conan,” and Adult Swim’s “The Jack and Triumph Show.”
But the puppeteer and voice behind Triumph, Robert Smigel, is quite comfortable with sharing the wealth with his old bosses.
“I had worked something out years ago that even though NBC owns Triumph, they would never control what I could or couldn’t do creatively,” Smigel told Business Insider.
“In other words, I’d be free to make any movie with anyone I wanted to, any TV show, any book, record, but they would just have to be some sort of profit participant,” he continued. “But they can’t exercise any authority over what I would be allowed to do.”
It’s a pretty sweet deal for NBCU and Smigel, especially as Hulu premieres its second special this year with the foul-mouthed puppet, “Triumph’s Summer Election Special 2016,” on Thursday.
It should also be pointed out that NBCU’s parent company, Comcast, is a part owner of Hulu, which gives it another slice of profit if Triumph does well on the streaming service.
Other comedians aren’t as lucky as Smigel. Recently, Comedy Central and owner Viacom apparently put a stop to Stephen Colbert’s use of his conservative alter-ego from “The Colbert Report” after he brought it back for “The Late Show’s” live airings during the national conventions.
Smigel, though, called the injunction against Colbert “a gift.”
“I’m happy for Stephen. It’s great publicity for them,” he told us. “It was a gift that Comedy Central did that. In fact, I thought they were doing it as a conceptual joke to help Stephen. I know the people there and they’re great people. But they just walked into it.”
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