Jon Stewart's greatest legacy: Turning 'The Daily Show' into comedy's best talent farm

February 12, 2015 1:47 PM

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From the moment original Saturday Night Live cast member (and breakout star) Chevy Chase left the sketch series at the beginning of season 2, it became clear that Lorne Michaels’ creation wasn’t just an important comedy institution in its own right. Almost immediately, it had also become a sort of finishing school for young, hungry comedians—a means to an end (greater stardom) rather than an end itself. And indeed, most of the biggest comedy stars of the ’80s—Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy—share an obvious commonality: They all got their start on SNL.

SNL has a long, rich history of being the mainstream comedy world’s most reliable stepping stone. A handful of folks (Mike Myers, Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell) have followed in the footsteps of the five men above, parlaying their time on the show into blockbuster superstardom; others (Conan O’Brien, J...

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