Children of ‘The Daily Show’ Eclipsing ‘SNL’ Alumni

Although I’ve referenced this before, this seems like an appropriate time to point out again how “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” appears to be a more fruitful incubator of comedy talent these days than “Saturday Night Live.”

Stephen Colbert just completed a deservedly buzzed-about week of USO shows in Iraq channeling the spirit of Bob Hope. Ed Helms is co-starring in the breakout theatrical comedy “The Hangover,” which is hanging on and then some. Steve Carell stars in “The Office” on TV (in which Helms co-stars) and has a thriving film career. And Rob Riggle and Aasif Mandvi turn up in small roles in “The Hangover” and “The Proposal,” respectively.

Two of “SNL’s” highest-profile alumni, meanwhile, coincidentally happen to be starring in boxoffice disappointments — Will Ferrell in “Land of the Lost” and Eddie Murphy’s latest, “Imagine That.” Granted, more recent “SNL” graduates have birthed comedies for NBC — Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in primetime, and Jimmy Fallon sliding into latenight. Yet while “30 Rock” has drawn deserving critical plaudits, it remains borderline in terms of ratings, and the jury’s still out on the commercial prospects and creative merit of those other endeavors. (Of course, one could expand the discussion to include “SNL’s” Maya Rudolph, currently co-starring in “Away We Go” with The Office’s” John
Krasinski, whose TV co-star
Oscar Nunez also turns up in “The Proposal,” but let’s table that
part of the discussion before my head explodes.)

The bottom line is that given all the noise “SNL” created during the 2008 campaign with Fey’s dead-on impersonation of Sarah Palin — as well as the occasional viral video sensation — the show’s fabled eye for talent hasn’t necessarily kept up with the Joneses. Or at least, the Stewarts.

So chalk this up as a rare instance (for me, anyway) of accentuating the positive — with apologies to Colbert, less a wag of the finger at “SNL” than a tip of the hat to “The Daily Show” and its progeny.

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