Steve Carell Calls Out 'Daily Show' for Its 'Cruel' Sense of Humor (Video)

2012 Issue 27: Steve Carell
Frank W. Ockenfels 3

Described in a THR cover story by friend Jon Stewart as "kindness at the heart of darkness," the six-time Emmy nominee lives in a comic sliver where he despises "mean," Tina Fey thinks he's "civilized" and his Office afterlife might just entail him not being funny at all.

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The actor and comedian now admits that some of his interviews were like "shooting fish in a barrel."

Steve Carell's big break came when he landed a correspondent's gig on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. But in a new cover story in this week's Hollywood Reporter, the funnyman now admits that he thought the show could be needlessly mean.

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Carell first joined Comedy Central's Emmy-winning news satire in 1999 on the recommendation of Stephen Colbert, with whom he had worked at Chicago's Second City, and stayed with the show until 2005.

Frequently called upon to conduct mocking interviews of unwitting subjects -- figures like a Florida mayor who had banned the devil -- Carell now admits that the bits could lean toward the mean-spirited in their dogged pursuit of laughs.

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“It’s one thing poking fun at people who deserve it," Carell tells THR, "but there was that flip side of shooting fish in a barrel. It’s just cruel."

Still, no one speaks more highly of Carell's gifts than Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who tells THR: "The beauty of Steve Carell is in silence. He knows how to create silence better than anyone I have ever worked with. His ability to find comedy in moments you don’t realize is amazing.”

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Carell, in fact, remains good friends with both Stewart and Colbert and returned to The Daily Show in June, ostensibly to promote his film Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Instead, he played the glasses-wearing author of a book on former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, The Last Pharaoh: Egypt’s Transition From the Mubarak Era, and another titled Fifty Shades of Yams.

“I walked into his dressing room the day of the show and threw [the books] on the table,” Stewart says. “You can’t do that with a lot of people, but you can with Steve.”