Jon Stewart on Thursday ends his 16-year run as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, which he has anchored since 1999.
One of Stewart’s greatest legacies will be his protégés, who have made spaces for themselves on screens big and small. Here are a few of the Daily Show personalities whose careers Stewart helped to launch.
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One of two participants in the long-running “Even Stevphen” debate sequence, Carell graduated to a career in episodic TV with a Golden Globe-winning role on NBC’s The Office. While on that series, he began a movie career, which hit a new peak this year when he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Foxcatcher — one that took subtle advantage of his comic timing.
The other Steve who loved debating in the early years of Stewart’s tenure, Colbert was installed in the post-Stewart timeslot in fall 2005. As Colbert developed his showily ignorant character over time, he came to overshadow Stewart in some aspects; in 2013, The Colbert Report (both terminal T’s are silent) broke The Daily Show‘s streak in the Best Variety Series category at the Emmys, and the series won again in 2014. Colbert preceded his onetime boss in leaving Comedy Central, but his future plans are definite: He’s to replace David Letterman on CBS’s Late Show this year.
Another Stewart acolyte to enter the late-night arena, Oliver did so well as a guest host while Stewart was on hiatus filming his directorial debut Rosewater that Oliver was offered his own show. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, on HBO, routinely sets the internet on fire on Monday mornings with Oliver’s impassioned monologues on subjects he deems under-covered by the U.S. media.
The onetime “senior black correspondent” on The Daily Show, Wilmore has gotten great reviews in the early going of The Nightly Show, his 11:30 p.m. show on Comedy Central. Even without Stewart as a lead-in, it’s easy to imagine Wilmore continuing to attract positive attention for his frank panel conversations about little-discussed issues.
Her brief stint on The Daily Show, beginning in 2010, was controversial at the time given the star’s pedigree as the host of the silly G4 series Attack of the Show!, but Munn proved her mettle. She works consistently as a movie actress to this day, and was among the standouts on HBO’s controversial drama The Newsroom.
His time on The Daily Show was brief — just a few months in 2014 before he was announced as the new co-anchor of Saturday Night Live‘s “Weekend Update” segment. But his appointment proved just how porous the comedy world had become: As though anyone needed reminding, it was newly clear that The Daily Show was making stars. Ongoing debate over whether Che is right for the “Weekend Update” spot has gone on to prove that in many cases, Stewart’s format is a great end in and of itself.
Williams looks to be the latest breakout star from Stewart’s Daily Show. The speculation that she’d take the post-Daily Show spot was so intense that the star, known for her sharp commentary on feminist issues, addressed it on her personal blog. Even without a show of her own, Williams has emerged as a generationally defining star, recently appearing on the cover of Wired — likely her first magazine cover of many.