There is a good reason for
"I go around apologizing to people after the fact," explained the indomitably cheerful actor who also costars in the series. "It is a great deal of apologizing."
Such is show business life when you play the sidekick to Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, the puppet handled by comedy writer
But Triumph started hitting for real comedy power when Smigel brought the act on location to comment on the
Triumph's insult-comic-dog-bites-man on the street bits are built into the throwback sitcom format of "Jack & Triumph," which premieres Friday. Unlike the scripted portions of the show that are taped in front of a live audience on Manhattan's West Side, McBrayer said he's never quite sure how it's going to go when he joins Smigel on remotes.
In one episode shot outside an Apple store in New Jersey, Triumph tries to get a place in an iPhone line by offering a hipster-looking Apple customer bribes of artisanal cheese, Arcade Fire concert tickets and a photo of public radio host Ira Glass.
"It hasn't gotten to a point where I felt in danger," McBrayer said. "The worst part for me is getting wind that we're going to be asked to leave a location."
When asked where that has happened, McBrayer replied, "Pick one."
But Smigel notes that all civilians who get roasted on camera by Triumph are asked ahead of time and usually know what they are in for. "A lot of times I have a puppet in my right hand and a script with a list of jokes and a paw in my left," he said. "It reminds people that none of that should be taken seriously."
The sitcom premise has McBrayer playing a former child star who fell on hard times after co-starring with Triumph in a long-running TV family drama called "Triumph's Boy." The two are reunited after an estrangement, and many of the plots are built around Triumph trying to get them back into showbiz or coming up with get-rich-quick schemes. Many involve the help of B-list and C-list celebrity guest stars (Joey Fatone, Tony Little,
Academy Award-nominated actress
Triumph has endured as a comedy character because a little of his caustic humor goes a long way. Until the Adult Swim series, Smigel passed on Triumph offers that included hosting his own talk show, having a game show or starring in a theatrical film.
"Creatively, I didn't want to turn into this dog," said Smigel, who for years wrote the animated "TV Funhouse" segments on "Saturday Night Live" and performed and wrote for Conan O'Brien's shows. (O'Brien is also an executive producer on "Jack & Triumph.")
Smigel also made sure his career endeavors allowed him enough time to care for his teenage son, who has autism. He has used his industry contacts to book "Night of Too Many Stars," a benefit to raise money for autism programs. The annual special airs March 8 on Comedy Central.
But Smigel saw immediate sitcom potential when he used the ever-innocent McBrayer in a Triumph remote for "Conan." The mismatched pair visited the Wieners Circle, a Chicago hot dog stand known for its verbally abusive servers. The seven-hour shoot produced a raunchy but hilarious video that has been viewed more than 4.7 million times on YouTube.
It makes you wonder how McBrayer explains what he does to his family back in Georgia. According to the former
'The Jack and Triumph Show'
When: 11:30 p.m. Friday