Robert Smigel is an American actor, comedian, puppeteer and writer, who has garnered public interest for his work featuring cartoons on “Saturday Night Live” (SNL), and as the voice and puppeteer behind the character from “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog”.
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Early life and family
Robert Smigel was born on February 7, 1960 in New York, USA to parents Irwin and Lucia Smigel. He and his only sister, Bellanca Smigel Rutter, were raised in a Jewish family and were often sent to Jewish summer camps.
His father was an American cosmetic dental surgeon, called the “Father of Cosmetic Dentistry”, and a philanthropist – Dr. Smigel was the founder of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics in 1977 and served as its president to this day. of his death in 2016. His father launched and developed oral hygiene products including the first whitening and brightening toothpaste, “Supersmile”. It started by word of mouth and then became a big hit when it was featured in various publications. Today, his mother and sister, Bellanca, continue to manage and distribute the premium oral care products created by his father.
Robert went to Cornell University, taking a pre-dental course with the intention of following in his father’s footsteps. However, he ended up earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from New York University in 1983.
Even in college, he was already into comedy sketches and trained in comedy improvisation techniques with well-known improv pioneer Josephine Forsberg of The Players Workshop in Chicago. He also joined a Chicago comedy troupe in the early 1980s to hone his talents.
Robert began writing for television in 1985, when he was asked to join the writing staff of SNL, an American live comedy television show. SNL producers Al Franken and Tom Davis were impressed with Robert when he starred in a show in Chicago. It was a disappointing season, and Lorne Michaels, the executive producer, revamped the show, firing nearly everyone, including some cast and writers. Robert was selected, and took the opportunity to show off his writing skills. One of his most notable comedy skits was when William Shatner as Captain Kirk told all of his loyal fans at a convention to “get a life.” Robert also occasionally appeared as a recurring character in the comedy sketch “Bill Swerski’s Superfans”.
During a writers’ strike in the following season of SNL, he wrote for an improv comedy show called “Happy Happy Good Show” in Chicago, starring Conan O’Brien and Bob Odenkirk. He worked with Conan again and co-wrote another potential comedy show, “Lookwell,” for NBC, but it was never picked up. it was only seen by the public when it aired on a TV show featuring unaired pilots.
When Conan O’Brien launched his own television show, “Late Night with Conan”, in 1993, Robert was hired as the show’s first head writer.
He collaborated with Conan on some of his memorable comedy sketches on late night television. Robert also used Syncro-Vox, a new low-cost technique in which they simply superimposed his lips over photos of real people during monologues.
Three years later, Dana Carvey launched her own ABC TV show, and Robert was on it, and although it didn’t last long, the good thing is that Robert got to launch his first cartoon, “The Ambiguously Gay Duo,” which he later said was never planned but just one of those impulsive acts he did for “The Dana Carvey Show.”
His cartooning career flourished, especially when he created “TV Funhouse”, a short animated segment that aired on SNL, a favorite part of audiences, who loved the fun satire of well-known public figures, as well as pop culture. in general. He became the show’s longest-serving writer, contributing comedy sketches from 1985 to 2013. This cartoon segment spawned the idea for a TV show on Comedy Central. This time, instead of simple cartoons, puppets were also used in the comedy sketches.
Of all the characters created by Robert, the most popular is “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog”.
Robert Smigel visits AOL Hq for Build on March 1, 2016 in New York City. Photos by Gino DePinto, AOL
Posted by BUILD Series on Wednesday, March 2, 2016
He is a cigar-smoking Rottweiler who would mock and insult celebrities and public figures. The character debuted in “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” in 1997, and made a series of appearances, including on “American Idol” during his Honolulu auditions, and several presidential campaigns on television, in which he would be opposed to other presidents. candidates.
Robert has also collaborated with SNL alumnus Adam Sandler in co-writing screenplays in Adam’s films, including 2008’s “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan”, and lent his voice for a character. bulldog in “Little Nicky”. He later wrote and co-produced Adam’s “Hotel Transylvania” films, the first in 2012, and the second – “Hotel Transylvania 2” – in 2015, when he again lent his voice to the fake character of Dracula.
In 2018, he co-wrote, directed and co-produced the film “The Week Of”, with Adam Sandler, and Chris Rock and Steve Buscemi in the cast, released on Netflix.
Robert was married to Michelle Saks and had three children, the eldest of whom, son Daniel, was diagnosed with autism. The couple are very active in supporting autistic families and raising awareness about the disease. Robert created a fundraising telethon to support autism education and called it “Night of Too Many Stars”. TV host and comedian Jon Stewart hosted the show, and they’ve held it every two or three years in New York City since 2003, when Robert was made aware of his son’s condition.
Awards and nominations
Robert has received numerous nominations from major awards bodies, such as the Emmy Awards and the Writers Guild of America. He
- won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program with fellow “Saturday Night Live” writers in 1989 and 2002.
- won an Emmy for Outstanding Interactive Program for “Night of Too Many Stars” in 2013.
- won the Writer’s Guild of America for Best Comedy/Variety Series – (including Talk) – Television for “Saturday Night Live” in 2007 and 2009.
- won the
Writer’s Guild of America for Best Comedy/Variety Series – (Including Talk) – Television for “Late Night Show with Conan O’Brien” in 2007.
Robert is 1.80m (5ft 9in) tall. He is Caucasian with grayish black hair, a grayish black beard, and dark brown eyes.
Sources put his net worth at around $3 million, as of May 2020.