LOS ANGELES — LOS ANGELES -- This Sunday, Rob Corddry stars in his first sitcom, The Winner, as a lovable loser determined to turn his life around to impress his unrequited high-school love.
But the real winner in all this may be The Daily Show, which has become the fertile breeding ground for comic actors that Saturday Night Live once was.
"We have a track record of promoting people to bigger and better things or, at least, bigger things," said Daily Show executive producer David Javerbaum jokingly. He adds that Corddry "has this tremendous ability to do things that, objectively speaking, would make him unlikable but somehow don't, and that's inherently rare."
"The cool thing is, it's not fair to call The Daily Show a proving ground, because it's such an exciting show in its own right, and it's really a destination, a worthy end goal," says Daily Show alumnus Ed Helms, who stars on The Office.
Steve Carell was the first Daily Show correspondent to break out, starring in the hit films The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Little Miss Sunshine, and NBC's Emmy-winning sitcom The Office. Helms joined Carell in The Office, and co-stars with him in the coming movie Evan Almighty.
Daily Show apoplectic commentator Lewis Black has appeared in films such as Man of the Year and Unaccompanied Minors (which also featured Corddry) and recently won a Grammy for his comedy disc The Carnegie Hall Performance. Corddry's brother Nathan stars in NBC's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
And, of course, Stephen Colbert became a media sensation when he moved on to his Daily Show companion series, The Colbert Report.
Javerbaum admits that correspondents move on because they're "asked to do variations of the same thing over and over, and that can get old from time to time. And they know that Jon Stewart is always going to be the main guy. And, there's a lot of money to be made out there.
"Whether it's a matter of good casting or the good work we did grooming them, we're very happy with the success they've gone on to," Javerbaum said. "They're all great, and we're very proud of all of them."
Helms adds, "The Daily Show provides a very kind of narrow range of performance, and Steve Carell was the first to demonstrate to the outside world that the correspondents can also be well-rounded comedic actors. Whereas Colbert took that narrow performing style, exploited the hell out of it and made his mark being the king of it, to his credit."
Corddry says The Daily Show's success both as a critical favorite and in creating comic actors is due to "a combination of a lot of things, Jon's sensibility being one. The times being what they are, and especially what they were when the show started to hit, it was a ripe period for satire and still is, and that was largely lucky.
"Shows have their peak periods," said Ricky Blitt, creator of The Winner. "The Daily Show is something people are gravitating to more than SNL right now. The Daily Show has been the smartest show on TV, and for people like Rob, who was really funny on the show but was doing just one thing, they can feel like they're in cages, but in a good way. But when you're a gifted actor like Rob and Steve Carell, you're given free rein to go beyond that."