The Daily Show has had incredible success over the years in catapulting its correspondents on the bigger and better things. Stephen Colbert has just been elevated to The Late Show host. Steve Carell was a huge star on The Office and has starred in major Hollywood films. The same can be said for Ed Helms. John Oliver has his own show on HBO coming out soon. Olivia Munn ended up on The Newsroom after The Daily Show. Rob Corddry, Rob Riggle, and Aasif Mandvi are fixtures as supporting characters in sitcoms and in movies (and Corddry, of course, also has Children’s Hospital). These days, being a correspondent on The Daily Show is as good — or better — than being in the cast of Saturday Night Live. But, like the cast of SNL, not everyone from The Daily Show goes on to bright futures in television and film. Some have skidded back into obscurity (or near obscurity).
Let’s take a look at the five least successful post-Daily Show careers of its correspondents.
5. Vance DeGeneres — DeGeneres (who is the older brother of Ellen DeGeneres) was a correspondent on The Daily Show for two years, between 1999-2001. He was best known for playing a kind of Dateline NBC correspondent who made a huge deal out of trivial matters. His career in front of the camera basically ended after The Daily Show, although he does now co-run Steve Carell’s production company, Carousel Productions, and he exec-produces David Steinberg’s Inside Comedy.
4. Stacey Grenrock-Woods — Grenrock-Woods was a Daily Show correspondent from 1998-2003, covering mostly the sex beat (she used to write a sex column for Esquire), and she’s probably best known on The Daily Show for her investigation into self-proclaimed “ass psychics,” who gave people psychic readings based on their butts. Since she left The Daily Show, she’s been Fox News reporter “Trisha Thoon” in Arrested Development, and she appeared on Countdown with Keith Olbermann posing as a body language expert in 2008. That’s about it.
3. Brian Unger — Unger was an original correspondent (and producer) on The Daily Show and worked there until 1998. After that, he became a real reporter of sorts for NPR, where he provided the Unger Report on Day to Day from 2003-2009, and he still provides commentary on All Things Considered. Otherwise, he has done some hosting here and there (he filled in for Keith Olbermann several times in 2006) and he has a recurring character on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia as The Attorney.
2. Mo Rocca — Rocca, who was on The Daily Show from 1998-2003 and played something akin to the Tucker Carlson character, was one of the first BIG names on the show to strike out on his own, and when he left, I thought he had a huge career ahead of him. That’s not to say he’s not doing alright for himself: Those of you who listen to NPR’s Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me no doubt hear him frequently on that show. He’s also a correspondent on CBS This Morning and he hosts a show called My Grandmother’s Ravioli, in which he receives cooking lessons from America’s grandparents.
1. A. Whitney Brown — Not only was A. Whitney Brown one of the original Daily Show correspondents, but he was a writer on that show and on Saturday Night Live from 1985 to 1991. What’s he done since he left The Daily Show? Bupkus. He was briefly on Air America Radio, but other than that, the only notable thing A. Whitney Brown came close to making headlines for was to marry a blues singer, Carolyn Wonderland, in a 2011 ceremony officiated by Michael Nesmith from The Monkees.
Honorable Mention: Beth Littleford (who I loved) is doing fine as a series regular on Dog with a Blog, and Nancy Walls is also doing fine as Steve Carell’s wife and the mother of his children. Also, Wyatt Cenac has only been gone for a couple of years, but he hasn’t yet done anything notable.