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Launch pad revisited

'Daily Show' alums move up, but not on

Steve Carell

Pre-“Daily Show” career: “I was doing theater at Second City in Chicago.”

Current activities: Starring in the NBC adaptation of “The Office.” He just wrapped shooting on Universal’s “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” Up next: an indie film alongside Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette, “Little Miss Sunshine,” and a bigscreen adaptation of “Get Smart.”

How he joined the show: “Stephen Colbert and I had been cast members together at Second City, and he’s the one who got me the job. They had lost a couple of correspondents and were looking for someone else, and he threw my name in.”

On his “Daily Show” persona: “I thought of him as a guy who used to be a national news reporter and had been demoted to this Podunk local show and had kind of a chip on his shoulder. He’s clearly out of his league in national news and probably in local news, too.”

Favorite segment: “I used to love to do these specialty pieces. One was called ‘Slimming Down With Steve,’ my weight-loss odyssey. I was clearly going about it the wrong way. We did another on working out and me running the Boston Marathon with no training. Those types of things I liked the best because no one looked like an idiot other than me.”

How the show helped his career: “It has a higher concentration of funny intelligent people than anywhere I’ve worked. And there was a freedom to fail, so it was OK to risk things.”

Lewis Black

Pre-“Daily Show” career: “I was a playwright — wrote plays for 20 years. I think the way theater works, or any of the entertainment industry for that matter, is you pick something primary that you want to do, and then they hire you to do something else.”

Current activities: Touring and promoting his book “Nothing’s Sacred.” Working on two TV pilots — one is a “Charles Kuralt-like thing” titled “The Red State Diaries.” His HBO standup special, “Lewis Black: Black on Broadway,” has just been released on DVD.

How he joined the show: “They needed somebody to yell, somebody to come in and do commentary every other week. So initially, I just sat behind the desk and yelled about stuff.”

On his “Daily Show” persona: “I would call it John Chancellor if he was alive and on acid.”

Favorite segment: “It was the pig races in Tillamock, Ore. And it was where these guys drive this almost tractorish thing with a pig in the back in a packed stadium.”

How the show helped his career: “What’s unusual was that it was on cable. Before that, you didn’t gain your name by doing cable. The other thing is, it’s always been a strong company. There were a lot of reasons to tune in. It pushes you and relaxes you — you feel really confident.”

Lauren Weedman

Pre-“Daily Show” career: Doing standup and theater in New York

Current activities: Touring with her one-woman show, “Wrecked”

How she joined the show: “I was doing solo standup at the Upright Citizens Brigade and they talent-scouted me.”

On her “Daily Show” persona: “I was kind of uber-sincere and approached it more as an acting role than going for jokes. I just went in there and acted the role of a reporter.”

Favorite segment: “I did a (parody of the E! Channel’s) ‘Wild On’ in Amish country. There’s this one part of the segment where I’m learning how to make candles, and I’m in a bikini top, and I take the candle wax and start dripping hot wax all over my chest in front of all these Amish elders.”

How the show helped her career: “Here’s a show that is so smart, and so great and such a political force now. It’s one place in the entertainment industry where I said, ‘Thank God I’m not a jiggling idiot because look what I got.’ “

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