Jordan Klepper Praises Jimmy Kimmel's Health Care Crusade

THR -Jordan Klepper - Photographed by Aaron Richter - H 2017
Photographed by Aaron Richter

"Comics have no place in politics" is a belief held by Jordan Klepper's new late-night persona.

Leading up to his new Comedy Central show, The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper (premiering Monday), the Daily Show alum has been peddling his own conspiracy theories. On the late-night show, the host will be playing a character, also named Jordan Klepper, who is an "opportunistic free-thinker" who views himself as anti-mainstream. 

"Kimmel criticized Cassidy but comics have no place in politics," the official Opposition account tweeted after Kimmel's first of three nights waging a health care bill fight on late-night TV. The satirical tweet, not to be confused with Klepper's real opinion, then teased the show: "MORE TO COME on The Opposition 9/25 on Comedy Central after the Daily Show."

The Jimmy Kimmel Live! host has spent the last three nights crusading against the GOP's latest attempt to repeal Obamacare, a stance for which he has received backlash and cries to "stay in his lane" and to stick to being a "not funny" comedian, Kimmel explained on his Thursday show. But Kimmel, whose son William "Billy" Kimmel was born with congenital heart disease, pointed out that his qualifications aren't too far off from our president's reality TV résumé, and Klepper agrees.

"Watching Kimmel's response to all of this, it's been really inspiring to see how he's furthering this conversation," Klepper told The Hollywood Reporter during a visit to his show's New York City set on Friday. "It's a conversation that is also getting pushed under the rug and you see the necessity of it. It's very admirable."

What Kimmel has accomplished is bringing the topic to the forefront of headline news by speaking from an honest and thoughtful place, a "breath of fresh air" that Klepper says Americans are responding to.

"What is happening right now with health care is that it's being pushed through faster than it needs to," says Klepper. "They're trying to sweep it under the rug in a way that people aren't going to care. So anybody making noise and drawing attention to it, the more people will look. America needs to take a close look at what is happening. If the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] scores aren't going to come out until they vote, then we all need to have our eyes on that. Kimmel's visibility to talk about that from his point of view, I think, is incredibly helpful."

While speaking from inside The Opposition's late-night bunker, which includes a Murder Board of conspiracy theories and a desk stacked with pages of "source" material, Klepper spoke about how he plans to handle a Kimmel-type situation, should he find himself a part of the news cycle. 

"Our goal, especially when you are doing a show through a filter of something, is that we have to make sure that intention is very clear: What are we trying to say and are we being clear with how we say it?" he says. "The show lives in the reality of the real world too, so if it takes on something outside that and becomes news unto itself, that's something we'll of course react to."

After all, baiting the alt-right is sure to result in more than a few social media or culture wars, as Klepper describes them. A heightened version of his Daily Show persona, TV Jordan Klepper and his "citizen journalist" castmates have crafted their characters around people who form their worldview from Breitbart News, InfoWars and, of course, Facebook feeds.

"A lot of these sites are content machines," says Klepper of internet sources such as TheBlaze. "As soon as we announced this show, [Infowars host] Alex Jones immediately responded to it, partially because I think he creates 27 hours of content a day and is looking for things to talk about. I wouldn't be surprised if [our show content] gets picked up. Starting a war or battle, being polarized, is the thing that gets those clicks and gets that attention [for many of these sites], and I think that is definitely what we're going to play around with."

The Opposition, however, will be cautious about engaging and giving voice to dangerous fringe ideas that "shouldn't be given oxygen." He adds, "We don't see these people as people we are fighting, we see these people as people we are a part of."

While speaking to a small group of reporters, including THR, Klepper explained how he sees the character viewers will soon be watching from behind the nightly Opposition desk. 

"Let me be your punching bag," he says of being another white guy on late-night TV, this time, one with a big blind spot who America is already mad at. "This is about extending that blind spot, and what I’m adding to that is a dash of paranoia, a little bit of overconfidence and the ability to actually have your own late-night show."

Though he describes the show as being the opposite of The Daily Show — Trevor Noah is also an executive producer on The Opposition — he won't only be satirizing the alt-right. "This guy doesn’t have an ideology of the right," he explains of his character. "I’m going to be pro-Trump on a lot of issues because it is a way in which this guy sees he can sell both his TV show and products he’s going to have on the web afterward. But if it’s more opportunist, if it makes him more popular, more successful, he will flip on that. It’s less the ideology of the right — it’s the ideology of clicks."

The Opposition airs weeknights at 11:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.