Smigel, Robert 1960-
SMIGEL, Robert 1960-
PERSONAL: Born February 7, 1960, in New York, NY; father, a dentist; married Michelle Saks; children: Daniel. Education: Attended Cornell University; graduated from New York University; studied acting at Players Workshop, Second City theater company.
ADDRESSES: Office—c/o NBC, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10112. Agent—Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212-1825.
CAREER: Actor, producer, animator, puppet master, and writer. Actor in films, including (as concert nerd) Wayne's World 2, Paramount, 1993; (as Mr. Oblaski) Billy Madison, 1995; (as IRS agent) Happy Gilmore, Universal, 1996; (as mail room guy with glasses) Tomorrow Night, 1998; (as Andre) The Wedding Singer, New Line Cinema, 1998; (as voice of Mr. Beefy) Little Nicky, New Line Cinema, 2000; (as himself) Adam Sandler Goes to Hell, New Line Home Video, 2000; and (as Walter the dentist) Punch-Drunk Love, New Line Cinema, 2002. Appeared in television series, including (as himself) Saturday Night Live, National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1991-93; (as voices of various characters) Late Night with Conan O'Brien, NBC, 1993—; (as various characters) The Dana Carvey Show, American Broadcasting Companies (ABC), 1996; (as voices of Fogey, Xabu, Triumph, Rocky, and others) TV Funhouse, Comedy Central, 2000; and (voice of Simir) Crank Yankers, 2003. Appeared in television specials, including (as Superfan; and producer) Carl Wollarski, Saturday Night Live: The Best of Chris Farley, NBC, 1998; (as himself; and producer) Saturday Night Live: 25th Anniversary, NBC, 1999; (as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog) MTV Video Music Awards 2001, Music Television (MTV), 2001; (as himself) Saturday Night Live: TV Tales, NBC, 2002; (as himself) TV's Most Censored Moments, 2002; (as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog) MTV Video Music Awards 2002, MTV, 2002; (as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog) Comedy Central Presents: The Commies, Comedy Central, 2003; and (as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog) Osbourne Family Christmas Special, 2003. Appeared (as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog) in television movie It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, 2002. Guest starred as Pearce Dummy on "Pearce on Conan," LateLine, NBC, 1999. Worked on television series, including (as producer, with others) Saturday Night Live, NBC, 1990-1992; (as head writer and producer, with others) Late Night with Conan O'Brien, 1993-95; (as executive producer) The Dana Carvey Show, ABC, 1996; and (as executive producer) TV Funhouse, Comedy Central, 2000. Former member of Chicago-based comedy troupe "All You Can Eat."
AWARDS, HONORS: Emmy Award (with others), Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 1989, for writing on Saturday Night Live; first prize (with J. D. Sedelmaier), World Animation Festival, 1997, for "TV Funhouse" cartoons; Ernie Kovacs Award, Dallas Video Festival, 1998, for "innovative contributions to television."
(With Conan O'Brien, Andy Richter, and Louis C. K.) If They Mated, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1995.
(With Adam McKay) X-Presidents, Villard (New York, NY), 2000.
television scripts; with others:
Saturday Night Live, National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1985–93 and 1996—.
Late Night with Conan O'Brien, National Broadcasting Company (NBC), 1993—.
The Dana Carvey Show, American Broadcasting Companies (ABC), 1996.
TV Funhouse, Comedy Central, 2000.
scripts; television specials:
Lookwell, National Broadcasting Company, 1993.
Saturday Night Live: The Best of Chris Farley, National Broadcasting Company, 1998.
Night of Too Many Stars, 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: "Making TV viewers laugh is what Robert Smigel does best," Marc D. Allan wrote in the Indianapolis Star, but "appalling them is a close second." Smigel has worked on most of the late-night comedy programs on network television during his career, including The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and Saturday Night Live. Few viewers will know his face or his name, but his works—including the recurring Saturday Night Live cartoon segments "The Ambiguously Gay Duo" about two caped, tights-wearing superheroes who drive around in a very phallic car and slap each other on the butt to celebrate a job well done—and "Fun with Real Audio," which includes audio segments from real events that are juxtaposed with scenes from the television show Sex in the City, as well as the "Clutch Cargo" interviews on Late Night with Conan O'Brien that feature an image of a famous person with Smigel's lips superimposed so he can speak for the person as O'Brien "interviews" him or her—have been widely praised as some of the funniest segments on those shows. They are also generally full of scatological, sexual, or otherwise off-color references. "Generally I'm a moron who just wants to make people laugh," Smigel told Greg Braxton of the Los Angeles Times, "But there are those times when there are points I'm trying to make."
After years of making people laugh and making points on other people's shows, in 2000 Comedy Central gave Smigel the opportunity to expand his puppet gags and his "TV Funhouse" segments from Saturday Night Live into a half-hour show. "The following program contains puppets, superheroes and Chihuahuas in mature situations. Viewer discretion is advised," read the screen at the beginning of the show. "That warning may be all you need to know about TV Fun-house," Alan Sepinwall wrote in the Newark, New Jersey Star-Ledger.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Newsmakers, Issue 3, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Cincinnati Post (Cincinnati, OH), April 27, 2000, "Can a Sock Puppet Be Defamed?," p. A24.
Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 5, 2000, Ted Cox, review of TV Funhouse, p. 4.
Dayton Daily News, April 27, 2000, "Pets.com Socks It to Late Night Writer," p. A2.
Denver Post, December 19, 2001, Joanne Ostrow, review of Saturday Night Live, p. F-05.
Harper's, July, 2000, "We're All Sock Puppets Now," p. 20.
Indianapolis Star, December 5, 2000, Marc D. Allan, interview with Smigel, p. E07.
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, April 28, 2000, Michael Precker, "TV Dog Puppets Engage in Hand-to-Hand Combat," p. K3897; December 5, 2000, Richard Huff, interview with Smigel, p. K209; January 23, 2001, Eric Mink, review of TV Funhouse, p. K3432.
Los Angeles Times, March 27, 1999, Greg Braxton, "Robert Smigel's 'Toons: SNL's Secret Weapon," p. 6.
Mediaweek, December 4, 2000, Alan James Frutkin, review of TV Funhouse, p. 12.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 1, 2000, Michael Precker, "Dog-Eat-Dog Puppets: Legal Battle of Canine Creations Pits Sock Puppet against Triumph," p. 6.
Mother Jones, November, 2000, Andrew Rosenblum, review of X-Presidents.
News & Record (Piedmont Triad, NC), September 25, 1998, Douglas J. Rowe, interview with Smigel, p. D3.
New York Post, January 16, 2001, review of TV Fun-house, p. 86.
New York Times, September 6, 1998, Anita Gates, profile of Smigel, p. AR21.
People, May 19, 1997, Nancy Matsumoto, interview with Smigel, p. 19.
Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), December 5, 2000, Alan Sepinwall, review of TV Funhouse, p. 61.
Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), December 27, 2000, Neal Justin, "Robert Smigel: Anonymous No Longer," p. E1.
Time, December 4, 2000, Josh Tyrangiel, "To Poop On!: TV's Reigning Comedy Writer Branches Out," p. 174.
TV Guide, December 23, 2000, David Handelman, review of TV Funhouse, pp. 42-44.
U.S. News & World Report, May 8, 2000, Mary Lord, "Oh, Put a Sock in It," p. 45.
US Weekly, December 11, 2000, Tom Conroy, review of TV Funhouse, p. 44.
Variety, August 16, 1993, John Brodie, "Robert Smigel," p. 4.
Greater Talent Network, Inc. Web site, http://www.greatertalent.com/ (July 16, 2003), "Robert Smigel: Writer for Saturday Night Live."
Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (May 26, 2004), "Robert Smigel."
Salon.com, http://www.salon.com/ (April 9, 2001), Rex Doane, interview with Smigel.
TVBarn.com, http://www.tvbarn.com/ (July 12, 2000), "From the Doghouse to the Funhouse."*