Stephen Colbert Addresses Crew's Capitol Police Arrest While Filming Triumph the Insult Comic Dog Interviews

·3 min read

Stephen Colbert addressed what he joked was an instance of “first-degree puppetry” on Monday’s Late Show.

As previously reported, several members of a Late Show production crew were arrested by U.S. Capitol Police on Friday. During a monologue on Monday night’s show, Colbert addressed the non-incident itself, as well as the ensuing (and in many cases, inaccurate) news attention it received.

“I certainly had an interesting [weekend] because some of my staff had a memorable one,” Colbert said after asking his audience how their respective weekends went. “Here’s what happened. Last week, I heard from my old colleague Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Triumph offered to go down to D.C. and interview some Congress people to highlight the Jan. 6 hearings. I said, ‘Sure, if you can get anyone to agree to talk to you because—and please don’t take this as an insult—you’re a puppet.’ Well, he did.”

As Colbert explained, Triumph—voiced by Robert Smigel—is a “bipartisan puppy” due to both Republicans and Democrats having agreed to speak with him across a two-day shoot. Per the host, Triumph and the team shot for two days in congressional offices across the street from the Capitol building, meaning they had gone through security clearance.

While handling matters of “last-minute puppetry and jokey make-’em-ups” in a hallway on Thursday night, Triumph and the crew were “approached and detained” by Capitol police. From Colbert’s perspective, all involved were simply doing their jobs, including the involved officers and the Late Show crew.

“My staffers were detained, processed, and released,” he said Monday. “A very unpleasant experience for my staff, a lot of paperwork for the Capitol police. But a fairly simple story until the next night when a couple of the TV people started claiming that my puppet squad had, quote, ‘committed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building.’”

This framing, Colbert succinctly explained, is wrong on multiple fronts. First, the individuals in question were not in the Capitol building. Additionally, what happened is indeed a far cry from an “insurrection,” as the far-right was pushing this weekend.

“An insurrection involves disrupting the lawful actions of congress and howling for the blood of elected leaders, all to prevent the peaceful transfer of power,” Colbert pointed out. “This was first-degree puppetry, this was hijinks with intent to goof, misappropriation of an old Conan bit.”

And while Colbert agreed it’s “predictable” that certain reporting on the arrests went in this direction, he still considers it a “shameful” diminishing of what happened on Jan. 6 of last year.

“Drawing any equivalence between rioters storming our Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral ballots and a cigar-chomping toy dog is a shameful and grotesque insult to the memory of everyone who died,” Colbert said.

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