In his opening monologue on Monday evening, Colbert set the record straight as to why members of his staff and comedian-puppeteer Robert Smigel were detained by Capitol police on Thursday, revealing that the Late Show had gone to D.C. to film a segment in which Triumph the Insult Comic Dog interviewed members of Congress about the January 6 hearings. “Triumph offered to go down to D.C.,” Colbert said. “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.”
According to Colbert, however, both Democratic and Republican congresspeople agreed to speak with Triumph for the segment. “He’s a bipartisan puppy. He’s so neutral, he’s neutered,” Colbert quipped.
Triumph and the Late Show staffers shot for two days in congressional offices across the street from the Capitol building, Colbert explained. “They went through security clearance, shot all day Wednesday, all day Thursday, invited into the offices of the congresspeople they were interviewing,” Colbert said. “And that’s very important. You have to invite Triumph in. He works on Dracula rules.”
Colbert said that on Thursday evening, after the bulk of the shoot was done, Triumph and the staffers were doing “last-minute puppetry” and “jokey make-’em-ups” in a hallway when they were detained by Capitol police—which Colbert insisted was not all that surprising. “The Capitol police are much more cautious than they were, say, 18 months ago, and for a very good reason,” Colbert said. “If you don’t know what that reason is, I know what news network you watch.” Ultimately, Triumph and the staffers were processed and released.
The incident was “a very unpleasant experience for my staff, a lot of paperwork for the Capitol police, but a fairly simple story,” Colbert said. The story, however, got more complicated when “the TV people” began accusing Colbert and his puppet squad of committing insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building. “First of all, what?” Colbert said Monday. “Second of all, huh? Third of all, they weren’t in the Capitol building. Fourth of all—and I am shocked I have to explain the difference—but 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 continued: “This was first-degree puppetry. This was hijinks with intent to goof. Misappropriation of an old Conan bit.”
Without calling out anyone who accused him of committing an insurrection by name, Colbert took the “TV talkers” to task for comparing his bit gone awry to January 6. “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, and it obscenely trivializes the service and the courage the Capitol police showed on that terrible day,” Colbert said. “But who knows? Maybe there was a vast conspiracy to overthrow the government of the United States with a rubber rottweiler.”