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Is The Daily Show's Rob Corddry the Next Steve Carell?

Glen Abbott, the title character of Fox's new sitcom The Winner (premiering Sunday at 8:30 pm/ET), is a 32-year-old schlub living with his parents. He can't cook for himself. He's never had sex. He's obsessed with Steven Weber's Wings. In short, this winner's a big loser. Rob Corddry plays this man-child, and it's not an insult to say that he makes as convincing a TV loser as anyone in recent memory. Narrated from the pres­ent by a successful Glen, The Winner is set in 1994, the year when he decides to turn his life around. In order to impress Alison (Erinn Hayes), a divorced doctor who's the only person he's ever kissed, Glen befriends her 14-year-old son, Josh (

John Sellers

Glen Abbott, the title character of Fox's new sitcom The Winner (premiering Sunday at 8:30 pm/ET), is a 32-year-old schlub living with his parents. He can't cook for himself. He's never had sex. He's obsessed with Steven Weber's Wings. In short, this winner's a big loser.

Rob Corddry plays this man-child, and it's not an insult to say that he makes as convincing a TV loser as anyone in recent memory. Narrated from the pres­ent by a successful Glen, The Winner is set in 1994, the year when he decides to turn his life around. In order to impress Alison (Erinn Hayes), a divorced doctor who's the only person he's ever kissed, Glen befriends her 14-year-old son, Josh (Keir Gilchrist), and they get embroiled in high jinks involving a hot teacher, an aggressive prostitute and a ridiculous hairpiece. "This is The Wonder Yearswith vagina jokes," Corddry says.

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It's the first major role for the 36-year-old Massachusetts native, who gained "that guy" status during a four-year stint on The Daily Showas a jerk who managed not to offend. "Rob has that rare ability to be incredibly obnox­ious and still be likable," says Daily Show executive producer David Javerbaum.

During a conversation over beers at an Irish pub in Manhattan, Corddry oozes charm. He offers up amusing anecdotes about his wife, Sandy, and their 8-month-old daughter, Sloane. He humbly but energetically touts his up­coming projects, including a part in the Will Ferrell figure-skating flick Blades of Glory. And he looks em­barrassed while describing his first weeks away from The Daily Show, which he left last summer to take on The Winner. "I never had the DTs," he says, "but I did miss it."

If The Winner mirrors Corddry's life, it's because 1994 was also a turning point for him: He moved from Boston to New York City, intent on a career in theater. "I fancied myself quite an impor­tant actor," he says. "The funny thing is, Shakespeare doesn't pay that well." After one year touring with the National Shake­speare Company, he started looking for more lucrative gigs — and eventually scored a commercial for 1-800-CALL-ATT with Carrot Top that was named one of 2001's worst ads.

Corddry's popularity on The Daily Show, which he joined in 2002, puts him in a prestigious club of the pro­gram's expatriates — including Ed Helms (The Office's newbie Andy) and Bush baiter Stephen Colbert. But as the star of a much-heralded sitcom, Corddry seems poised to battle Steve Carell for the title of Most Famous Daily Show Alum Ever.

Corddry's not buying it. "Carell has way more hair than I do," he says. "And he's got that lithe star's body. I don't know if I can fill those gym shorts." Then, channeling his Daily Show per­sona, he adds, "But I will try and take him down." May the best loser win.

Get acquainted with the cast of another "winning" sitcom, CBS' Rules of Engagement, in the March 5 issue of TV Guide.

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