Triumph’s Summer Election Special 2016 is best described as Don Rickles vs. politics – politics loses.
The one-hour special, now streaming on Hulu, takes a look at the Republican and Democratic National conventions and their nominees from the point of view of a ticked off, cigar-chomping pooch – Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. It’s crude – sometimes beyond belief – but smart and surprisingly incisive. Also crude. Let’s not forget about the crude. (The Donald won’t!)
The format of hour is a visit to each convention by Triumph, in the company of a Roger Ailes lookalike (and for the star-free RNC, a Rod Stewart lookalike). Triumph then rips a few new ones at random, and moves to a studio panel composed of some witty, intelligent pundits – and a black Gandalf-wannabe – for more verbal mayhem.
To get things off to a good start, Triumph poses the question everyone should be asking themselves about who to vote for: Are Americans ready to be led by a woman, or are they pretty confident that they’d survive a nuclear war?
From there it gets nasty.
Triumph’s political leanings are made pretty clear – he doesn’t savage Hillary and the DNC nearly as thoroughly as he does The Donald and the RNC.
His best bits come at the Republicans’ expense as he: riffs on actual Trump merchandise; puts up a fake Dunk a Muslim (or Married Gay Couple) dunk tank and gives one fellow an opportunity to vent his spleen over the ‘global warming hoax’ on a polar bear mascot.
Even more vicious is a focus group in which real Trump voters are asked for input on a series of fake Trump campaign ads that get increasingly ridiculous and hateful as they go along. At one point, Triumph, behind the two-way mirror looking into the room, inquires, ‘Are they getting enough oxygen in the room?’ Which should say something – but what, I’ll let you ponder, after you view the testimonials by the participants following the focus group.
Other good bits include invading a tour of Philadelphia’s historic sites and asking less than proper questions of a Ben Franklin impersonator (who remains determinedly in character) – followed by a riff on Hamilton with a black Ben Franklin and an incredibly crude rap.
One of my favorites involves changing the colors on the map of the US that shows which candidates won which states. Yup. Crude. Bit kinda right, somehow.
Like any satirical program, not everything lands, but more than enough do that, coupled with the few completely serious moments (which add even more weight to the comedy – it makes Triumph’s Summer Election Special 2016 worth watching
Final Grade: A-