Jordan Klepper comes home to Michigan for Comedy Central special on 2022 midterms – Detroit Free Press
In a clip from his latest Comedy Central special, Jordan Klepper is shown visiting the October rally in Warren where President Donald Trump appeared in support of Michigan’s top GOP candidates.
Speaking to a woman in a pro-Trump T-shirt, he mentions that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is ahead in the polls. “That’s baloney,” she counters, explaining that she doesn’t believe in polls unless they’re done by Republicans.
The conversation stays pleasant , but Klepper pushes back on that thought and, in the process, sums up the current state of American politics.
“It’s important for polls not to reflect reality,” he says, “but to reflect your reality.”
As a veteran cast member of “The Daily Show,” Klepper has focused in recent years on covering the 2016 presidential campaign and Trump’s subsequent White House term. Along the way, he has become an expert of sorts on the rise of conspiracy theories and threats to democracy. That’s the theme of his new half-hour special that airs at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and is titled “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Presents: Jordan Klepper Fingers the Midterms — America Unfollows Democracy.”
According to Comedy Central’s press materials, Klepper is seeking answers to a flip version of a deeply troubling question: “Is America unfollowing democracy?” During the special, he’ll travel the campaign trail and interview some of the growing number of Republicans who deny the results of the 2020 election and don’t believe President Joe Biden is the country’s legitimate president.
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Examining the eroding lack of faith in election outcomes isn’t an easy job for someone in the humor trade, but it’s a job that has earned Klepper a reputation for fearless political comedy.
This latest special follows two previous ones that earned him Emmy nominations. “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Presents: Jordan Klepper Fingers the Globe — Hungary for Democracy” took him to the Eastern European nation, and “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Presents: Jordan Klepper Fingers the Pulse — Into the MAGAverse” was a dive into Trump rallies on the 2020 campaign trail.
Klepper’s reports are played for laughs, but they’re not that far removed from what real journalists are chronicling as the midterm elections on Nov. 8 draw near.
Writing about the same Warren rally that Klepper visited, the Associated Press noted that “after spending much of the last two years obsessively peddling false claims of a stolen election, Trump is increasingly attracting those who have broken with reality, including adherents of the baseless QAnon conspiracy, which began in the dark corners of the internet and is premised on the belief that the country is run by a ring of child sex traffickers, satanic pedophiles and cannibals that only Trump can defeat.”
So what has Klepper learned from the conspiracy theory beat? “One takeaway is it’s good that Windsor is so close. Good option for all those Detroiters,” he jokes during a Zoom interview on Wednesday, referring to the Canadian city across the river from the Motor City that’s convenient for fleeing.
Klepper is a Kalamazoo native who became immersed in comedy at Kalamazoo College, where he was part of a student-run campus improv troupe called Monkapult. After getting his degree in 2001, he moved to Chicago, where he worked as a performer and a teacher at the city’s top troupes, Second City and iO (formerly called the Improv Olympics). One of his early coaches was Detroit’s own Keegan-Michael Key of “Key & Peele” fame.
In 2014, Klepper joined “The Daily Show” at a time when Jon Stewart was still the host. Along with being a correspondent, his credits include a 2017-18 stint hosting “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper” in the time slot after “The Daily Show” and the 2019 eight-episode docuseries “Klepper.” He also earned kudos for his 2017 one-hour special “Jordan Klepper Solves Guns,” which went to Kalamazoo and other sites in pursuit of common-sense consensus on gun control.
On Nov. 9, Klepper will launch a six-episode podcast, “Jordan Klepper Fingers the Conspiracy,” that gives him a chance to go deeper into some of the outrageous claims he has encountered.
”It’s sort of an in-depth jump into some of the conspiracies and the wilder theories I hear out on the road. For example, I will talk to somebody at a rally and they will mention JFK Jr. being the vice president of the United States. We may point out some of the inherent flaws in that (belief), but I always go: ‘Where did that come from? Do more people believe this? Why are we grasping onto these ideas?”
Klepper will use the podcast “to sit down with experts, to sit down with people who are affected by these conspiracies, people who have studied these and we kind of walk it back to see why these ideas are so sticky. … Why people are suddenly talking about Democrats drinking baby blood, which sounds wild, but I keep hearing it over and over again. So I’m going to bring somebody in who can (address) … what is the inherent fear that is really at the bottom of all of this? Why are we suddenly talking more and more about these ideas?”
The biggest news at “The Daily Show” this year is the departure of Trevor Noah, whose last episode is set for Dec. 8. Klepper, whose name has been mentioned in the gossip surrounding who’ll get the job next, says he will miss Noah’s “calming, thoughtful perspective” as host.
“I think Trevor has always come in with a calm response to the chaos … Trevor, from day one, walked into a writers room and an America that was pulling its hair out every second of the day. … When he saw this, he was able to be like, ‘It’s not that this isn’t valid, but I’m not going to be stressed out every second of the day.'”
How was Klepper received by attendees when he went to the Trump rally in his home state? “Well, with the traditional Michigan greeting. We raise our hand. We point to where we’re from. I show them where Kalamazoo is. … We get an understanding of geography first and foremost,” he jokes
More seriously, he says he mostly encountered Midwest niceness. “People were eager to talk to me about ideas. So there was not a lot of animosity about that. Usually when I go to these these rallies, the animosity tends to come from not the fact I’m from “The Daily Show,’ but the fact that I have a camera crew with me and am from the media altogether.”
Klepper understands that Americans have always loved conspiracy theories, which in the past have sprung up around topics ranging from JFK’s assassination to the existence of Bigfoot. “They’re fun. They’re secretive. It gives you power to think something is happening that you’ve discovered and nobody else knows about,” he says.
What’s different now is the way such conspiracy theories have insinuated themselves into the national political conversation.
Says Klepper: “Whereas ‘The Daily Show’ would have covered Bigfoot 15 years ago, I think sadly ‘The Daily Show’ is going to cover Bigfoot running for Congress and potentially winning months from now.”
Contact Detroit Free Press pop culture critic Julie Hinds at email@example.com.
11:30 p.m Tuesday