After the latest upheavals in late-night television, with Stephen Colbert being picked to replace David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon establishing an early lead on Jimmy Kimmel, and the futures of Chelsea Handler and Craig Ferguson suddenly up in the air, the new king of comedy might be the star making the fewest headlines.
Remember Jon Stewart? He has been lifting his eyebrows at politicians and the media on “The Daily Show” for so long that it’s easy to take him for granted. But he was once the hot new comic, the one considered next in line to take over for Letterman, so it was bracing to hear him concede he had lost that ambition. “I don’t have that gear, I think,” he recently told Vulture.
But in the current game of musical desks, Stewart doesn’t need to shift gears because he’s now helping to make the fastest cars.
With new prestige jobs for Colbert and another former “Daily Show” correspondent, John Oliver, who starts an HBO weekly program on April 27, Stewart’s show has established itself as a premier incubator of comedy talent, a formidable rival for that legendary breeding ground, “Saturday Night Live.” While comedy on “The Daily Show” remains as sharp as ever, the show’s former correspondents now make up a sizable chunk of the comedy establishment.
“The Daily Show” has been a kind of Ivy League for funny people, training not just future talk-show hosts but also movie stars ( Steve Carell, Ed Helms), stand-up favorites ( Kristen Schaal, Demetri Martin), Emmy-winning show runners ( Rob Corddry, who created and stars in Adult Swim’s “Childrens Hospital”) and even musical-comedy performers ( Josh Gad, of “The Book of Mormon” and “Frozen”). Ex-correspondents are in the cast of the HBO shows “Veep” ( Matt Walsh) and “The Newsroom” ( Olivia Munn). When AMC announced it was moving into comedy, among its first new shows was one starring and produced by a “Daily Show” veteran, Wyatt Cenac.
“The Daily Show” has always been much more of an ensemble production than it gets credit for, with a superb team of writers and producers surrounding Stewart. And it’s a particularly good showcase for its revolving cast of correspondents. As Comedy Central tackles the challenge of replacing “The Colbert Report,” don’t be surprised to see some of its own talent receive promotions.
Perhaps a show with the husband-and-wife team Jason Jones and Samantha Bee? Or a vehicle for actor Aasif Mandvi: Besides being one of the most reliably funny stars on “The Daily Show” for years, he has received great reviews for his performances onstage.
Craig Kilborn Lorne Michaels Seth Meyers Fred Armisen Maya Rudolph