Satirist Strikes Serious Note at IOP

Jordan Klepper
Jordan Klepper, comedian and host of Comedy Central’s “The Opposition with Jordan Klepper,” speaks at the Institute of Politics Tuesday.

Between barbs at President Donald Trump and bits about his own success, Jordan Klepper, a comedian and host of Comedy Central’s "The Opposition," decried the polarization of American politics at the Institute of Politics Tuesday.

Klepper is best known for his impromptu street interviews with Trump rally attendees on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah; on his new show, Klepper parodies right-wing media and activists. In a forum moderated by IOP President Jesse I. Shelburne ’18 and Vice-President Sharon Yang ’18, Klepper elaborated on his thoughts on satire and the current political climate.

“For me, satire has always been the most effective form of comedy. I move by the showing and not telling, and seeing the follies of some of these machines and the way in which Donald Trump has to backtrack on everything he says in order to give it legitimacy,” Klepper said of the impact of his show. “A lot of really great satirical comedy shows are people who are earnest versions of themselves calling out the bullshit that is out there.”

Although Klepper acknowledges the impact that his show has on various audiences, he maintains that his show's primary intention is still comedy. He said "The Opposition" is neither meant to be an activist platform nor a reliable source of news.

“We don’t see ourselves as an activist show,” he said. “We also don’t see ourselves as something you should use as information. If this show inspires you to feel something, to be more curious, great. Then look at other things as well as more resources. Go read beyond what our show brings you.”

Klepper also said that American politics have become too polarized, losing substance and legitimacy for many voters.

“This election was digested in such a way that it felt more like college football more than it felt like a presidency. Politics just became a sport here,” he said. “I think a lot of people thought ‘I voted for this person; this person is my guy, and any attack on him is an attack on me.’”

“I hope we can get to a place where things become less and less polarized,” he concluded on the issue. “It’s been a really frustrating few months as far as all of that goes, but everything right now is becoming a wedge issue where you can’t help but take a side.”

Roy S. Liu, a student at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government who attended the event, said it is important for students to hear from both serious and non-serious political voices.

“It’s really important to not just get serious political commentators, but also people...that make light of the political situation, because humor is one of the best ways to make light of a damp situation,” he said.

Lisa M. Merrick, a student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, also gave positive reviews. “I think he brought a really interesting perspective to all the extreme information being put out there right now. I’m really looking forward to see his show," she said.

Klepper’s show, The Opposition, airs every weeknight on Comedy Central.

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