Dohiyi Mir
    In Which NTodd Says His Peace

Monday, November 24, 2003
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Triumph Of The Will

The Globe:

A Leno seen as a chance for shtick -- a place where John F. Kerry sharpened his man-of-the-people chops by riding a motorcycle onstage on Nov. 11. A Kerry adviser says that the Harley spin was the Leno writers' idea and that the show wanted Kerry on for Veterans Day, all good for his campaign message.

But the visit proved that Leno can be devastating, too. Because Kerry, it turned out, was the second-billed guest, following a cigar-chomping, trash-talking puppet named Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. And the dog, voiced by comedian Robert Smigel, delivered a sharper critique of Kerry than any rival is likely to muster. His humor tends to center on dog waste, and this time he compared it to the Kerry campaign's momentum.

If things go poorly for Kerry, that could become the campaign's defining moment, said Matthew T. Felling, media director for the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. "Michael Dukakis had the tank picture," Felling said, "and Kerry's going to have Triumph."
Leno should be given particular pause these days, Felling said, since he gave Arnold Schwarzenegger such glowing treatment at the start and finish of his gubernatorial bid.

Triumph, it turns out, had a riff on that one, too. "The Terminator can take over the show, but John Kerry, a war veteran, has to follow a freaking dog puppet?" he said on the Leno show. "What's going on in America?"

Why is a freaking dog puppet offering more insightful commentary than anybody else in America?

Speaking of which, if you haven't heard Triumph's Fresh Air interview (thanks faithful reader, Bill Simmon), you should check it out, especially if you like jokes about dog poop*. Triumph does an extremely funny bit on Terry's interview of Bill O'Lielly.


* All weekend during the film shoot, the director of photography and I were falling into Triumph's voice and talking about poop. I'll bet that happens on Spielberg's sets a lot, too. 

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