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In 2015, Jon Stewart ended his tenure as host of The Daily Show with a speech imploring his viewers to remain vigilant against bulls—t. Trevor Noah has continued to fight the good fight against misinformation since taking over the Comedy Central mainstay, and now it’s time for Jordan Klepper to enter the fray with his own satirical news show, The Opposition With Jordan Klepper.
The former Daily Show correspondent is bringing his blowhard persona to 11:30 p.m., the former home of The Colbert Report, with a show that will satirize hyperbolic and antagonistic media extremes — from Breitbart to Keith Olbermann.
“Wherever we see sort of bulls—t, we will go after it, whether it be on the left, right, middle, or wherever,” executive producer Stuart Miller tells EW.
In August, EW hopped on the phone with Klepper to discuss the origins of his show’s name and how he hopes it’ll stand apart from The Daily Show.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you come up with the name for your show?
JORDAN KLEPPER: This show is living in this world of alt-media, or this new media that exists sort of on the fringes but is now influencing mainstream media. We point toward things like Infowars, Breitbart, or things that see themselves as outside of the box. What we started to notice is there are so many people who see themselves outside of the box and they define themselves as against the mainstream, which is sort of ironic because you even have Donald Trump, who sees himself as an outsider but he’s inside the White House. We started to notice that that is a uniquely American trait as well — to see yourself as against something, especially in this day and age. A site like Infowars calls itself “The Resistance” and so does Keith Olbermann. What they have in common is that they think they’re fighting something. So our show sees ourselves as against something. Each day it’s going to change, but one thing we do know is that we are against it, whatever the hell it is.
The show wants to spoof both sides of the aisle. How will that manifest itself in your coverage?
I think we want to look at how both sides attack the news story of the day. Both sides use hyperbole to get their points across. I think there’s plenty of material on the right for us to lampoon. Again, because there are so many conservative points of view that are in power right now in creating policy, I think we will look to heighten those points of view and satirize that. At the same time, we also see that being counteracted by progressive and leftist points of view, some of which get more and more extreme in order to combat the hyperbole that is the one right. We see hyperbole on the left, and you see these sides get so far apart that you’re like, “There’s actually a middle ground somewhere along here,” but we’re nowhere near it anymore. I think the show is looking to find some of those voices as well that may start off in a good place and wanting some progress, but find themselves just heightening to a point of lunacy.
I know there are a lot of viewers of our show and of shows like this who are progressive. I think it’s important for us to hold up a mirror and look at some of these things that we might be heightening in a way we might’ve been critical of three years ago, but we’re doing it as well because we feel that the time is so dire. We find the bulls–t first before we add any ideology to it, and that bulls–t lands on both sides. I think it’s our job to play with it. That sounds disgusting, and as I’m saying that, perhaps this is a terrible idea. I don’t want to get s–t on my hands, but you know what, that’s where I’m at. I’ll bring a lot of wet wipes.
Can you walk me through how you netted your own Daily Show spin-off? Did Comedy Central approach you about it?
Over a year ago, I started working with Comedy Central about doing an hour-long special and started to pitch an idea for a pilot for a show. I started focusing mostly on that special, which turned into Jordan Klepper Solves Guns, so that took up most of my time. But while I was working on that, [I also had] discussions with them on what type of a show would be necessary and what I’d like to do and comment on. It was somewhat of a conversation as we were discussing and watching. At that point, this is where the election was really taking shape, and then eventually, Donald Trump became president. I think within this conversation I had with Comedy Central, everybody started asking the question after the election: What happened? A lot of the people on the left were so shocked and surprised and felt so blindsided. I was like, “If we’re going to do a show, I think it needs to be about what surprised so many people and whether or not it really was a surprise.” That conversation led its way into, there is a whole half of this country that nobody is paying attention to, that is getting its news from different news sources, spouting different facts that aren’t the ones we’re expecting.
I was going to Trump rallies at this time, and the people I was talking to at these rallies weren’t parroting the voices of, say, even Fox News or CNN. They were referencing InfoWars, they were referencing Breitbart, they were referencing these other sources that I had heard very little about up until that point. These were dictating the conversation. As this thing got kickstarted, that was at the forefront of my mind: “I’d really love to take a hard look at these sources and also play in this world,” because it feels like a very different world than four years ago, and people feel like they’re living in totally different realities. They’re choosing the reality that they want to live in. I want to do a show where we get to choose our own reality, where these things that we thought were fringe are now part of the fabric of the show. Also, we had a long conversation, too, about what I feel my strengths are on in portraying this heightened character that maybe comes from a good place, but definitely has some blind spots. I wanted to embody some of the things I saw as being absurd, as opposed to just comment on it.
Will this be a version of your Daily Show persona or the one you had in Jordan Klepper Solves Guns?
I think this character has lived in all of the pieces that I’ve done with The Daily Show and elements of Jordan Klepper Solves Guns. I think Jordan Klepper Solves Guns, that character had a very specific ideology, and what we wanted to do was satirize a character who had a very far left perspective, whose blind spot was that he was self-righteous but he perhaps didn’t understand that there was a middle ground. I think what I’m gonna play around with is going to be somebody who is still me at its core, but I think the ideology shifts somewhat more to this world where there’s definitely no trust in facts, no trust in things that come from the mainstream, or anything that feels like I should buy into it. I’m sort of replacing elements that I’ve had before with elements of this new world that we are creating, but the essence of it is still the Jordan Klepper that you’ve seen on The Daily Show. He’s just fed up with being “Jordan Klepper on The Daily Show.” He’s now free. He doesn’t trust anything, even that person that was on that one liberal show.
This sounds a bit like Stephen Colbert’s truthiness idea on The Colbert Report, except a bit more extreme.
It does feel like a new time. What feels different than, say, where we were five or 10 years ago is these characters who are creating the agendas, policy or even the dialogue that we have right now in this political landscape, it feels much less ideological-based. This isn’t the Republican Party of big flowing American flags and salutes. This is a party of opportunism, fear, and propaganda. So it does feel darker and much more conspiratorial. I think Donald Trump had that birther lie, he’s lying about the number of people at his inauguration. I think conspiracy is in the mainstream. It feels darker and very 2017. So what our challenge was to be reflective of what we see happening right now.
Every movement needs a slogan. Have you guys come up with anything like that?
Oh, we’ve got plenty of slogans. To start with, it’s, “The Opposition: You’re either with us.”
There’s no alternative.
There’s no need to fill in the rest. We’ve given you all you need.
The Opposition premieres Monday, Sept. 25 at 11:30 p.m. ET on Comedy Central.