IN Donald Trump’s America, according to television’s newest satirical host, “you get to pick which facts are right for you”.
Fanatically paranoid with a penchant for conspiracy-peddling, Jordan Klepper has molded his persona in the image of the so-called alt-right’s head honchos to host The Opposition – Comedy Central’s latest foray into political satire.
“I know why you’re here,” Klepper tells his viewers in the first episode, which premiered this week. “You’re here because you’ve noticed that all mainstream media sounds the same.”
“We’re all controlled by the same elite puppet masters.”
But the “golden rule” of The Opposition?
“May you only hear from others what you’ve already been telling yourself.”
A veteran of The Daily Show, Klepper created his alter-ego by riffing on the likes of “alt-right” figureheads Alex Jones of Infowars, Steve Bannon of Breitbart or The Blaze’s ultra-conservative Glenn Beck.
“It’s a world that is full of paranoia, that has conspiracy in it, that kind of builds its own truth, it can build its own reality,” Klepper said in a recent presentation to journalists in New York.
“It’s a great place for a comedian to show the bullshit that is out there – as opposed to just yelling at that bullshit.”
A veteran of another satirical news program, The Daily Show, Klepper said he conceived of The Opposition by attending Trump rallies during the reality star-turned-president’s election campaign.
At such rallies Trump regularly skewered the “dishonest” media – including major outlets like CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post.
“I fight to break up their monopoly on truth,” Klepper the character tells his audience.
Playing with fire
Conceived of as the evil twin of The Daily Show – made famous by comedian Jon Stewart, and now hosted by Trevor Noah – The Opposition fills the time slot formerly held by The Colbert Report.
Comedian Stephen Colbert’s hit show was also a parody, satirising Fox News’s loud-mouthed former host Bill O’Reilly.
“The Daily Show is mainstream, we’re going the other way,” Klepper told journalists. “We want these shows to live in tandem.”
Seated in front of a bleak grayish-blue set akin to a bunker, Klepper the host delivers his sharp one-liners with an ironically straight face – perhaps an antidote to today’s stream of real news that seemingly grows more bizarre by the day.
Like The Colbert Report, Klepper’s show includes an interview segment with a real-life guest lending insight into the news as the host stays in character.
The first week’s line-up included activists and personalities who have espoused more Democratic-leaning views.
“We think it’s important for someone who sees himself as anti-mainstream to bring some of those people who have maybe more rational points of view,” the comedian said.
Klepper knows his new venture is playing with volatile material: “There are these fringe ideas that are dangerous, that are scary ideas and they shouldn’t be given oxygen,” he said during his press event.
“What we’re looking for is where is the germination of fear or nationalism that you see making its way downstream,” he continued.
“That we can play with.”
On Monday, the show took on the wave of protests across the National Football League sparked by Trump’s berating of players who kneel or sit during the US national anthem to draw attention to racial injustice.
“Athletes are there to get concussions,” Klepper the host said. “Not to make us think.” — AFP