In case you missed it, and of course you missed it, because were you really watching Spike's "Guys Choice Awards 2011" last weekend? No.
But if you had, you would have seen Triumph the Insult Comic Dog metaphorically pooping on Congressman Anthony Weiner -- who, at the time of the awards show taping, still was categorically denying having sent lewd and/or incriminating photos of himself to female followers on Twitter and Facebook. Now that we know the truth, let's go back in time and watch Triumph's take on Weiner. So to speak. Roll it!
A lot of the way that show was conceived was by thinking about what talk shows weren’t doing. Dana Carvey was asked to do that gig months before it landed in anyone else’s hands, right after Carson announced that he was retiring. Lorne knew that he was going to get to oversee the show, and the first person he wanted to host it was Carvey. He wanted Conan and I to work on it, and at that time no late-night talk show was doing any sort of sketch comedy at all. That idea expanded when it was decided that Conan would become the host. But before that happened I thought that the show would feature Carvey playing a lot of different characters. Months later Conan called me and said that this idea would work in reverse—he could be the straight man to all of these crazy characters. The sketches evolved into playing with visual jokes because Conan and I bonded over our love of cartoony humor.
-- Robert Smigel, explaining his approach as the initial head writer for Late Night with Conan O'Brien, in October's "comedy" issue of Vice Magazine.
Back in June, Robert Smigel and Bob Odenkirk rounded up the "Super Fans" from their SNL sketches for a special live reading of their 1995 screenplay that never became a movie -- the event at the TBS/Just For Laughs Chicago festival was called Da Bears Movie That Wasn't, and raised money for charity. It helped that they had not only the other living Super Fans in attendance -- George Wendt and Joe Mantegna -- but also Horatio Sanz reading the lines for the late Chris Farley, and Dave Koechner reading several zany parts, and oh, yeah, Coach Ditka.
But I hadn't shared this footage before that I shot backstage immediately afterward with Smigel and Mategna, in which they talked about doing the "Super Fans" again. Roll the clip!
At last year's inaugural Just For Laughs Chicago festival, I sat down with Robert Smigel and asked him about the legacy of his "Da Bears" SNL Super Fans sketch.
This year, JFL Chicago is bringing Smigel back for a "Da Bears" charity tribute Super Fans extravaganza, featuring Smigel, former Bears coach Mike Ditka, George Wendt, Joe Mantegna, Bob Odenkirk and the Sun-Times' Richard Roeper. They'll be performing a live reading of Da Bears Movie Dat Wasn't, a never-produced screenplay, as well as show Super Fan sketches, welcome surprise guests, and do a Q&A with Ditka. It's all happening June 19 to benefit Have Dreams: Helping Autistic Voices Emerge and the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund.
Wow. Here's part of my chat with Smigel to refresh your memories.
But that's not all. Just For Laughs Chicago also unveiled a big ol' slate of additional shows for next month's festival, as well as adding shows for Aziz Ansari, putting John Mulaney and Kyle Kinane on the "ALT" show that already boasted Patton Oswalt, Maria Bamford and Chris Hardwick, and put Jim Belushi along with the planned Second City class of 1979 reunion show.
Allow me to cut-and-paste-and-edit the new shows for your enjoyment...I'll see you there?
Last summer, while running around from show to show at the inaugural Just For Laughs Chicago comedy festival, I managed to catch up with Robert Smigel and Dino Stamatopoulos backstage after one of their rare screenings of "The Unaired Bozo Circus Parody" along with the pilot for TV Funhouse. At the time, I quickly posted only part of the video, in which I asked Smigel to offer his perspective on his Chicago Superfans sketch that he developed into one of the more popular recurring Saturday Night Live sketches in the early 1990s. Da Bears. Da Bulls. Well, as all of this NBC late-night TV melodrama has unfolded, I remembered that Smigel not only was the first head writer for Late Night with Conan O'Brien, but that he and Stamatopoulos had talked a little bit about that -- Dino was Smigel's first hire -- as well as their humble beginnings in comedy. Also, how they came up with the word "crunk" before it became popular for something else. In their eyes, it was supposed to be a fake curse word that Conan and others could say on the show without actually cursing. Roll the wayback machine clip!
Stamatopoulos could be seen on several episodes this season of NBC's Community, and is developing a new show for Adult Swim, Frankenhole. He previously produced Moral Orel for the cable toon network, as well as Tom Goes to the Mayor. His writing credits include The Ben Stiller Show, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Dana Carvey Show, Late Show with David Letterman, Mr. Show with Bob and David, TV Funhouse, MADtv and Important Things with Demetri Martin. Those sound like pretty good credits, don't they?
Smigel, meanwhile, made The Dana Carvey Show and TV Funhouse happen, but he remains famous even today for pooping on all types of famous people as Triumph the Insult Dog. He stopped by Conan's Tonight Show last week to show what happened with Triumph went to the spa.
If you'd like to see Triumph do a 40-minute set and have not seen that yet...
Robert Smigel began his comedy career in Chicago, and during the 1988 writers strike, Smigel returned to the Windy City and, with fellow SNL striking writers Conan O'Brien and Bob Odenkirk, wrote and produced a revue called Happy Happy Good Show. One of Smigel's sketches portrayed Chicago's super sports fans, which later famously became a recurring sketch on SNL called Bill Swerski's Super Fans, and people across America began emphasizing "Da Bears" and "Da Bulls."
Smigel is back in Chicago this week for Just For Laughs Chicago, showing the unaired Bozo pilot he wrote with Dino Stamatopoulos, as well as the original pilot for their animated "TV Funhouse." I spoke with them after last night's show -- they'll also be performing tonight at the Lakeshore Theater. Here is the portion of our backstage chat focusing on the Super Fans (I'll upload the full interview separately):
And here is perhaps the most well-known of the SNL "Super Fans" appearances from 1991, when Michael Jordan hosted. Smigel sits with Jordan, George Wendt, Mike Myers and Chris Farley, who has a heart attack and performs a luau dance for Jordan. Enjoy!