Jordan Klepper as Alt-News Purveyor

the_opposition_TOO_LONGcropThe edge between satire and contemporary discourse is becoming dangerously thin. Was it the President going on about NFL games being lousy since they’ve worried about concussions or was it Alec Baldwin?

Cockamamie conspiracy theories are by definition over the top — how can one top them?

Such is the task of the new “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper” (Comedy Central, 11:30 p.m.), the latest show to fill the post-”Daily Show” 11:30 slot on Comedy Central that would seem to be more in line with The Colbert Report than the show that replaced it for a year and a half, “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore.”

In it, the gangly Klepper, a Daily Show correspondent since 2014, takes on the persona of a super-paranoid anti-mainstream rumor monger —an Alex Jones with bigger hair.

Already his qualifications have been to turn out to any number of Trump rallies over the last year or so (oddly, they’ve continued after the election as well) and get those in line to engage with him. The nation is sufficiently divided that nobody at these rallies apparently watches The Daily Show; nobody seems to recognize him or are wise that he’s there to poke fun at them.

Klepper did a good job getting them to issue their own unique points of view, which I suppose are necessary to hear, if voting people actually believe such things. So many of them have said that Hillary Clinton needs to be impeached that he’s made T-shirts of that absurdist phrase to fling at them.

Though there wasn’t exactly a test program sent out for review in advance, it would seem The Opposition won’t all be the host intermingling with patriots at rallies (for one thing there aren’t enough rallies to attend, are there?).

Instead, he’ll be at his appropriately apocalyptic set and will send out a group of his own correspondents (or “Citizen Journalists,” as he calls them) that include a number of people from the improv world such as Niccole Thurman, Kobi Libii and Tim Baltz from Chicago’s Second City; and Josh Sharp, Aaron Jackson and Laura Grey from the Upright Citizens Brigade.

Like their leader, they will follow stories from the weird underbelly of the political world. If Colbert presented an alternate O’Reilly Factor, these originate from even further right.

As Klepper told reporters at the TV Critics Association summer press tour, he found that when he did his election year reporting, the electorate was becoming more and more extreme.

In the beginning, he said, “Obama being a secret Muslim was a belief held by some, but very few. And then, by the end, it was something that was emblazoned on T shirts and hats. The media started out covering these events, and by the end, they were the No. 1 enemy of these events,” he said. “I was even called fake news, which, to be fair, is completely accurate, but it still stung.”

But the people “weren’t parroting the sounds of CNN or even midday Fox News,” he said. “Their information was coming from Infowars, Breitbart, TheBlaze, this alt media. That’s what was taking hold.”

Given the gullibility of people, though, doesn’t he think some might flip onto it and think The Opposition was real and not a send-up, if they happened to flip onto it?

“Well, I think there’s a flaw in your argument — that people are even flipping around and even watching television that way anymore,” he said. “But I don’t.”

“I think ten years ago when we were arguing about what is true, and now we’re just choosing our own reality. And so I think that is a question that I’m excited to see how people interact with our show. Our show is a comedic show, and I think we’re going to satirize in a way that might get outlandish at times. But if people have to question what they’re getting and how they’re responding to the show, I think we might be doing something right.”

As far out as the alt-media gets, isn’t it hard to top for comedic purposes?

“Sure, 100 percent,” Klepper says. “When I’m trafficking in the alt media world, they’re so quick to go to hyperbolic stances. I think as a comedian, that’s a fun place to go. You can heighten it. I think what we want to explore is, like, one, how does that mind set work?

 

“How do we use that mindset to explore the topic in a totally different way? And also, how do we take that point of view and show it to our mainstream viewers?” he says.

 

“I think you’re going to get news every day that’s about investigating Donald Trump. I think we look to those sites and we’re like: But nobody’s talking about how we should be impeaching Hillary Clinton!  And I think that’s what we’re going to get down to the bottom of.”

 

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