On Tuesday (April 4), Comedy Central announced their plans to fill the network’s highly coveted 11:30 p.m. time slot.
It looks like “Daily Show” veteran Jordan Klepper is the latest correspondent to get their own late-night show — and honestly, it’s about time.
“The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” signed off back in August, leaving Chris Hardwick’s “@midnight” temporarily filling the void for some reason, and doing the job for some viewers — but as genius as Larry Wilmore’s show was, the former “Daily Show” personality never quite clicked with audiences. His inconsistent tone and timing issues regularly left his jokes falling flat. Those may sound like small details to gripe about, but we are talking about the “Colbert Report’s” old time slot — there are expectations to fill.
Jordan Klepper began his run on “The Daily Show” in 2014 — when Jon Stewart was still calling the shots. And over the past three years, Klepper quickly rose through the ranks, honing his on-screen persona. We’re not exactly sure what this new late-night show format will be, but here are a few examples of why Jordan Klepper is the right person for the job:
He’s got the sketch comedy and improv experience
Like Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert and many other “Daily Show” personalities before him, Jordan Klepper comes from the world of improv and sketch comedy — check out this scene, which shows the beginning of the real-life romance and eventual marriage between Jordan and comedy partner Lauren Grey.
One look at their Youtube channel and it’s clear to see Comedy Central has yet to fully crack into Klepper’s comedic capabilities. While we’re unsure if Lauren will appear in the new show, these sketches give us an idea of the tools the man can work with, outside of the typical parody news show format audiences are used to.
His ‘Daily Show’ field segments are the best
Klepper has shone throughout his “Daily Show” run, but it’s safe to say that, like many past correspondents, his field work has been his best work. During the 2016 election season, Klepper’s brilliance was on full display as he conducted on-the-spot interviews outside Donald Trump’s massive rallies.
There were multiple “Jordan Klepper Fingers the Pulse” segments featured throughout the campaign, and his conceited newsman candor invoked some frightening — yet hilarious — responses from the administration’s die-hard followers. Whichever way Klepper goes with his new show, he’ll need to rely on his strengths: We have to assume his repertoire will heavily feature this fingering.
He rarely breaks character
Another reason Jordan Klepper is primed for this late-night gig is his character commitment. Take a look at the above segment, which finds Jordan and Roy Wood, Jr. investigating police officers — and racism. While Klepper has proven himself worthy of handling the news desk, briefly covering for Trevor Noah when the man was out sick, he’s also a fantastic scene partner. As Roy joyfully rides along in the back seat of that cop car, Jordan never breaks from the smug, unaware exterior that makes his correspondent character so perfectly amusing.
“The Colbert Report” ran for nine seasons, and the show proved successful following “The Daily Show” for many reasons — the main one being Colbert’s character loyalty. It’s one of the reasons CBS’s “Late Show” has recently surged in the ratings — audiences continue to crave that iconic Colbert vibe. And they probably always will.
In Colbert’s 2005-2014 runtime, we saw a lot of changes in America: His sneering, bombastically patriotic, cruelly conservative boosterism provided satirical comfort against the rising tide of white supremacy and fascism he was trying to lampoon. In 2017, there is no great satire in that character, or idea — it’s simply the world and its power apparatus as we know it, and if Colbert weren’t a fictional character he might well now be a member of Trump’s cabinet. Actually, if Stephen Colbert had arrived sui generis and never tipped his hand — if “Colbert” were all we knew of the man — we’re fairly certain he would at least be approached.
But it is 2017, and the Colbert stance is too sad to be funny. Samantha Bee brilliantly critiques from the left on “Full Frontal,” and John Oliver awkwardly delivers his hip writers’ zingers and brilliance on “Last Week Tonight,” but Wilmore had fewer options available to him, as a man of color, than earnest intelligence, beautifully conveyed. Anything else would both lie outside his strengths, and set up too many feedback loops in the minds of an America still befuddled by its own biases and privileges.
By creating a true Colbert for the Trump Age, an elite, smug and grinning representative of the Fourth Estate — a demon of the punditry class — we could be seeing the next great Colbert, as we see more and greater division on the left against establishment Democratic corporatism and soft-liberal media collaborationism. If Jordan Klepper can find his groove, and the network has the foresight, it’s possible we may be discovering Comedy Central’s next golden boy.
Klepper’s as-yet unnamed show debuts in the fall on Comedy Central.