How Jordan Klepper Finds the Funny in Alex Jones and the Alt-Right Media

The Opposition will satirize outlets like Brietbart and Infowars

The Opposition with Jordan Klepper, featuring the Daily Show correspondent and six "citizen journalists," premieres tonight on Comedy Central. Gavin Bond
Headshot of Jason Lynch

Thirteen months after cancelling The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, Comedy Central has finally found its 11:30 p.m. companion to The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Tonight, the network is launching The Opposition with Jordan Klepper, which will satirize hyperbolic alt-media outlets like Brietbart and Infowars.

Klepper, the former Daily Show correspondent, will follow in the footsteps of Stephen Colbert by hosting the 11:30 show as a fictionalized version of himself, a character he described over the summer as “a know-nothing provocateur who fights for the common man … Alex Jones meets Garrison Keillor.”

As he prepared to launch the show—which will finally solidify Comedy Central’s late-night lineup—Klepper spoke with Adweek about how The Colbert Report inspired him, why The Opposition could be a great fit for brands and how much late night has changed in the past year.

Adweek: Comedy Central President Kent Alterman told me that when he made the deal with you for the 11:30 show, he didn’t know exactly what it was going to be. How long did it take to determine that?
Jordan Klepper: When I talked with Kent, we had a great conversation about what we thought was missing and what we wanted to start covering, and where we’ve landed is this alt-media world and this alt-media landscape. It took us a month or two to narrow in how the show was going to feel and look. How are we satirizing? Am I playing a character? It was a month or a month and a half after we talked to him, when we were like, I think this is what the show is and how it feels.

You haven’t talked with Stephen Colbert about how he was able to pull off something similar with The Colbert Report, but have you at least watched Colbert Report episodes to get a sense of how you modulate a character like that for a decade-plus?
Colbert proved that you can do a character and filter a show, day in and day out, through this point of view, which is very inspiring, and as a fan of that show, I was able to watch that and say, “Oh, this is a sustainable idea.” What we wanted to do is, let’s understand that we can filter it through a point of view that might not be our own. In the same way that Trevor does it on The Daily Show, we can filter it through a point of view of somebody who we find more interesting than us. So from there, we wanted to find the points of view that were already out there—the Breitbarts, the Blazes. And then, let’s start to build out of that. Stephen obviously was proof of concept years ago for that. So now, let’s figure out how to make this work in 2017.

Another thing that worked in Stephen’s favor is that The O’Reilly Report was on for the entire run of The Colbert Report. Will you be prepared if people pivot away to the Infowars of the world to something else? Certainly with a title like The Opposition, you’d have an opportunity to expand your parameters as alt-media evolves.
Exactly. We’re not seeing this as a one-to-one parody of any particular thing that exists out there right now. What we do feel exists, and is going to continue to exist, is this feeling that we can’t trust mainstream culture, that only outsiders are going to be able to take us back to the America that we remember, this fear of change. We talk a lot about the paranoid style of American politics that has always been a part of American culture, this desire towards an almost conspiratorial mindset and fearing the worst and filling in those holes with fear and hyperbole. And so, even if some of these alt-medias fade, I think the perspective is still fueling even mainstream media. We look at how it lives and how the point of views live in shows like Hannity, and we hope that this show can continue to satirize that mentality that is out there.

@jasonlynch Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.