Beignet and Gambit are the stars of an online photo comic strip series called Sofa Dogs. If you haven’t checked out their shenanigans yet, they involve the half brother and sister Golden Retriever rescues getting dressed up in a variety of outfits and punning their way through scenes, which usually involves them making fun of their hapless owner, Lee Bercegeay, affectionally dubbed the Primate.
With the strip becoming something of an online phenomenon, I spoke to Lee the Primate about the origins of the jape, the dogs’ respective personalities, and the pressing issue of what exactly Beignet and Gambit would look for in the ultimate couch.
Dogster: As rescues, what are Beignet and Gambit’s backstory?
Lee the Primate: Well, Gambit’s back is long and narrow and Beignet has one of those flat wide saddlebacks … just kidding!
I’m one of those people who can’t fathom ever giving up an animal once I have taken him into my life, but in this case I am forgiving. It’s my understanding that they belonged to a couple with a special needs child who fell on hard times. After losing employment and moving into smaller dwellings and cutting costs — and after doing all they could to keep them — they ultimately had no recourse but to give them up.
But I’ll tell you this: Just one look at the vet records and the fact that they found a rescue group for them proves they were honorable. Gambit had needed and got some sort of hip surgery, and the other records show that they took them both in like clockwork for checkups in the two-and-a-half years they had them. Although surrender rules mean severing all ties, it is my hope that they somehow know that Gambit and Beignet will be loved and well cared for forever and are having a good life.
How would you describe their personalities?
Well, there are their on-screen and real-life personas. I suppose a little of the latter definitely inspires some of the former. Gambit is the most like a regular dog in that he chomps his food down and will drool in anticipation of a treat. Although neither are needy, he will seek my attention and wants to be near me far more than Beignet. He will sometimes offer his paw without asking and will invariably come sit with me by the computer; he prefers to be inside rather than out. So on Sofa Dogs he represents the considerate one — the conscience if you will — and he’s sometimes actually caring about his primate.
And Beignet’s personality?
In real life, she is aloof, demure, fiercely independent, and lightning fast. She is a mighty huntress with several squirrels and rats (and a million lizards) to her credit, as opposed to the wholly uninterested, slower Gambit, who couldn’t catch a cold. She is queen of both indoors and out but enjoys guarding the backyard. She will not catch food tossed to her, as if to say, “How dare you! I am a sophisticated lady. Place it in my mouth, please.”
Beignet never sleeps in the bed, while Gambit will sometimes, and I have to respectfully invite her to get any cuddling. She also sings to the harmonica. As such, her Sofa Dogs personality is complex — she is a woman after all. She represents arrogance, shrewd ruthlessness, cleverness, and mischief. She is the superior diva, the queen of sarcasm, snark, and the punchline. The primate exists solely to serve her and amuse her with his silly, inferior primate ways.
So what was the very first comic strip you came up with?
Well on June 28 of 2012, Sofa Dogs was born. Wondering what I’d do for the rest of the summer — I’m a teacher — I walked into the living room bored out of my mind. I saw Gambit and Beignet sprawled out on the sofa and asked them, “What do y’all want to do for the rest of the summer?” I imagined that they would have said, “Doing it!” and chuckled to myself. So with a Sharpie and some copy paper I made a couple of thought bubbles, taped them over their heads, set up the camera on self timer, and joined them on the sofa. I posted the photo on Facebook and got some laughs. That’s all it took, and after four episodes I created their own page called Sofa Dogs.
What’s been your most popular episode so far?
Boy, that’s a toughie. There are so many. In fact we are about to shoot our 500th episode. But I’d have to say Episode 356, “Primate Shaming.” That thing went all over the world — even on TV in Canada we’re told!
Runners up have to include No. 349, “Why Dogs Go To Heaven,” guest starring my Down Syndrome little brother; “Lick It Good,” where they dress like the ’80s band Devo; “The Stevie Licks and Tom Petty” episode singing “Stop Waggin’ My Tail Around”; “GQ: Golden Quarterly Magazine”; and “World’s Worst Dog Jobs,” where Gambit must guard a bacon double-cheeseburger. We are primarily a comedy show, but, of course, having a lot of dog fans, our occasional proactive episodes are always pretty popular, too.
What do Beignet and Gambit look for in a good sofa?
One without a primate on it! Actually, our sofa is the only one they have ever known. I’d like to keep it that way but it has gotten pretty beat up to the point where I must now cover the cushions with a blanket because they are so scraped up. But the show is the most important thing and the sofa is the most consistent and important prop. It even had its own episode once!
If money was no object, what would be the ultimate sofa set up for Beignet and Gambit?
One each and the primate in the lounger!
If you had to go away for a week, which celebrity would they most like to come and look after them for a few episodes?
Well, I will never leave them for a week, much less a few days. However, it would have to be someone who loves animals as much as I and is funny. Say a Betty White or a Ricky Gervais, perhaps? Okay, I just asked them and they — well, Beignet primarily, of course — say they will be happy to take applications from interested parties to peruse and approve.
All we ever wanted to do was have some fun and provide some comic relief in a world badly needing it. If we have done that, we are gratified. We offer our best wishes for you all to have a smile or a laugh every day, even if just for a moment. Add enough of such moments together as you can and you’ll have a pretty decent life.
Thanks for talking with Dogster, Lee the Primate! See more Sofa Dogs on Facebook.
Read more by Phillip Mlynar:
About Phillip Mlynar: The self-appointed world’s foremost expert on rappers’ cats. When not penning posts on rap music, he can be found building DIY cat towers for his adopted domestic shorthair, Mimosa, and collecting Le Creuset cookware (in red). He has also invented cat sushi, but it’s not quite what you think it is.