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Why Jordan Klepper’s Alex Jones Approach to Conspiracy Satire is a Tricky Prospect

TCA: The upcoming Comedy Central series will premiere on Monday, September 25.

Jordan Klepper

Comedy Central

A change in rhetoric from the White House isn’t the only impetus for Comedy Central’s newly titled “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper.”

Klepper’s new post-“Daily Show” series, which will dig into the polarized worlds of conspiracy-minded media on the right and left sides of the political spectrum, comes as a response to the way many polarized Americans now digest news stories.

“There has been a great normalization of bullshit in America,” Klepper said at a Television Critics Association panel on Tuesday. “It’s usually on the fringe, but in November, something happened.”

Klepper cited his dual experiences on “The Daily Show” and in producing his recent special “Jordan Klepper Solves Guns” as a means for understanding the distinct approach to take with a self-righteous, exaggerated version of the persona version of Jordan Klepper.

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The kind of late-night political comedy that takes aim at those alt-media sources have traditionally come from a progressive perspective, taking aim at an entrenched conservative media perspective. Klepper explained the alt-media sources “The Opposition” will look at include “InfoWars, Breitbart, The Blaze,” outlets outside the establishment. The show will also look at forums like 4chan and “the news of the internet,” that were popular disinformation targets during the 2016 presidential election.

Klepper expanded a bit on the format of the show, explaining that it will follow the “Daily Show” model of having a studio-based host and correspondents out in the field. Jordan Klepper, the character, won’t be a direct parallel to Alex Jones-type figures, but will share some of their bombast and self-importance. He winkingly referred to these additional cast members as “footsoldiers” charged with finding the stories of “real Americans” that go unnoticed by traditional outlets.

There will be inevitable comparisons to Comedy Central’s former 11:30 p.m. host Stephen Colbert, who also stepped into a persona to skewer a specific corner of news media. Klepper said that he’s not yet spoken to Colbert about the process of dealing with the pitfalls of playing a persona with the same name, but that the show will be more about looking at “the half of America that reads completely different news from the other half.”

Comedy Central president Kent Alterman explained that Klepper’s heightened character wouldn’t be from the left, the right or anywhere in between. The true test of the show will come in how closely Klepper hews to any one figure within this universe. Though the InfoWars host will be a touchstone, Klepper explains that his version of the character will be closer to “Alex Jones meets Garrison Keillor.”

Read More Alex Jones Is Too Crazy For TV: Why Shows Can’t Pull Off Conspiracy-Theorist Characters

The political late night boom of the past 18 months has been lead by people with distinct voices. Samantha Bee, John Oliver, and Seth Meyers have all found success in filtering the day’s headlines through a specific lens. Even Anthony Atamanuik’s only-slightly-exaggerated version of President Trump on Comedy Central’s “The President Show” (which the network also renewed for additional episodes) comes from its own bizarre perspective.

Klepper hinted that this familiar approach might be helpful in guiding viewers to a new kind of story that their preferred media of choice might be overlooking. In the process of satirizing alt-media, they’ll end up turning the focus from the studio to the outside world.

“We’re exposing the ‘real’ stories, but we get to do it through comedy.”

The Opposition with Jordan Klepper” premieres Monday, September 25 on Comedy Central.

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