Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.
In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Debra Birnbaum, sits down with Jordan Klepper, star of Comedy Central’s “The Opposition,” to talk about the show’s first 90 episodes and capturing the Trump perspective.
Klepper, an alum of “The Daily Show,” built his far-right alter ego Jordan Keppler, which he says is based off of a combination of Alex Jones, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Breitbart, in the wake of the current presidential administration. To prep for his nightly show, he says he “wakes up way early and reads the papers, I check out what Breitbart is talking about, what Infowars is talking about, and then I do the Trump diet. I check out ‘Morning Joe,’ ‘Fox and Friends,’ and CNN just to try to see what he’s taking in.”
In a crowded late-night landscape that increasingly focuses on politics and Trump’s tweets, Klepper has carved out a lane for himself as a satiric voice for the ultra-conservative, reflecting what he has seen pop up in this political climate.
“I’m a privileged white male on late-night television and what is so fun is I see on the fringes a lot of privileged white men with microphones in front of their faces who see themselves as victims, who want to make the story about them, who see a #MeToo movement coming up and want to make it like a men’s rights movement,” he said. “What is so fun about our show is we see these culture wars that are created on the fringe and it’s like we get to create culture wars. We get to take small stories, turn little mole hills into mountains, we get to play the victim and show the chaos of making me the guy who sees himself as the most aggrieved.”
Following the Parkland shooting, “The Opposition” took on the gun debate, inviting Parkland students onto the show to talk with Klepper, along with teachers to weigh in on the discussion of arming teachers in schools. “We’re constantly balancing this tricky idea of playing a character who can go vile, who’s going to swing a blunt object in a very negative way to try to make a positive point, so for us, we can show the dark side of this conversation but for us it’s important to also counterweigh it with people who can articulate why it’s so important,” the comedian said.
Klepper also spoke about the general politicization of media, using ‘Roseanne’ as an example of how the show is being used as “the right’s version of ‘Black Panther.’” He said that “us versus them” mentality was a big reason behind the creation of his show, and he and his team will keep up the Jordan Keppler character to “keep reflecting that attitude as long as it’s there.”
Looking ahead, Klepper says his dream guest is Mark Zuckerberg, and there are plans to further incorporate “The Opposition” with “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” which air back-to-back on Comedy Central. “In these next six weeks, we’re finding ways ‘The Opposition’ can be a little bit more antagonistic to ‘The Daily Show’ and try to provoke the show in a more big brother-y kind of way,” he said.
As for what he would ask Trump if given the chance, Klepper says, “Is it almost over? Are we close? What else do you need from this thing? Two years? Seven years? Where are we at?”
You can listen to this week’s podcast here: