Can 'The Opposition With Jordan Klepper' Succeed as a 'Colbert Report' for Alternative Media?

"[The mainstream media] smuggles their dangerous ideas across the open borders of your mind," Klepper explained. "I want to shut down those borders. I want to close your mind." Comedy Central

When a new late-night show is about to debut, its network will often hold a promotional breakfast for the media. Lured by the promise of a slightly above average spread of pastries and fruit, members of the press gather to hear the host plug their new venture and answer questions. Despite the early hours, these events are very energetic, as they represent the "first look" at a show that has been in the works for months, and on which the fate of dozens of careers hang.

Last week, Comedy Central hosted such an event for The Opposition With Jordan Klepper, which premiered Monday after the Daily Show. They held a similar event two years ago for The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore, the last traditional late-night show to fill the time slot held for so long by Stephen Colbert. Wilmore trotted out in an impeccable suit, gave us a tour of the set, built in the same studio vacated by Colbert and dutifully answered our questions. A little over a year later, the show was canceled.

Like Wilmore before him, a suited Klepper last week trotted onto his new set, which Comedy Central constructed not on the possibly haunted grounds of The Colbert Report, but in the Hotel Pennsylvania, on Manhattan's west side. Klepper is very white, and very slick, his hair coiffed to add an unneccssary two extra inches to his 6'4" frame. He was enthusiastic, bubbly and annoyingly well-spoken as he broke down what to expect from The Opposition, which would be premiering in a few days. It was about 9:30 a.m. I felt like punching him.

Related: Alex Jones says Nazis in Charlottesville were Jewish actors

Klepper's punchable face appeared behind his own show's desk for the first time Monday night. Outside of an interview with author Kurt Andersen (Klepper has said the show will opt for authors and politicians as guests rather than pop culture figures), the inaugural episode served mostly as an introduction to the show's conceit, which is essentially to make fun of conspiracy theory-driven alternative media.

The easiest way to think of The Opposition is that it will be to sites like InfoWars and Breitbart what The Colbert Report was to Fox News. Like Colbert, Klepper plays a satirical character whose over-the-top indulgence in right-wing (or, in Klepper's case, no-wing) ideology indirectly—and hilariously—exposes its absurdity.

"[The mainstream media] smuggles their dangerous ideas across the open borders of your mind," Klepper said Monday night. "I want to shut down those borders. I want to close your mind. It's called mental nationalism, and it's an idea whose time has come. That's why here at The Opposition we believe in our own golden rule: may you only hear from others what you've already been telling yourself."

But unlike Colbert, Klepper has a team of correspondents that will report from the field. So, too, on occassion, will Klepper, who formulated the idea for The Opposition while attending Trump rallies as a correspondent for The Daily Show.

"I did a lot of Trump rallies during the election," Klepper told Newsweek before the premiere. "I kind of started noticing pretty quickly that a lot of the people we were talking to were referencing InfoWars and Breitbart and other outside-the-box news sources. A lot of people out there don't ascribe themselves to any particularly ideology. They often lean right, but they mostly lean against. It's anti-mainstream. It's so much easier and quicker to be against something. Let me be angry at that thing and fill in my own reality beyond that. That's where we're living with this thing."

During the press breakfast, Klepper spoke of how The Opposition will be a great opportunity to "show the bullshit that is out there, rather than just yelling at that bullshit." It turns out that showing the bullshit in how outlets like InfoWars, The Blaze and whatever network Tomi Lahren is on operate is not only pretty damn easy, it's incredibly fun. On Monday night, Klepper played a clip of Alex Jones's response to the news that Comedy Central was debuting a show meant to lampoon him. Jones described The Opposiition as "branding" for the type of "mentally retarded" people that have been "induced into comas" by the mainstream media.

Because Jones said he knows Klepper's "plan," Klepper provided Jones with a website laying it out: The site details Klepper's "plan," which looks suspiciously familiar to that of a certain InfoWars host.

1. Find out what people are scared of.
2. Make people even more scared of those things.
3. Develop products that protect people against those things.
4. Sell those products to the people who are scared.
5. Get rich as hell.
6. Figure out the rest. (Maybe a boat or a movie deal or something?)

Jones, it is clear, will serve as a kind of "Papa Bear" to Klepper the way Bill O'Reilly did to Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report. Because Jones is a little more irsacible than O'Reilly (or anyone), the relationship between him and Klepper has the potential to turn into a feud that plays out on a nightly basis, which means Klepper could find himself starring at more material than he knows what to do with, which is a good thing.

Monday night also saw the introduction of The Opposition's cast of "citizen journalists," each of which, like Klepper, will play the role of someone you might find in the alternative media universe. There's Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson, who play Milo Yiannopoulos-style provacateurs; Laura Gray, who on Monday night took exception with NFL players protesting during the national anthem; "resident expert" Kobi Libii, who wondered why the mainstream media hasn't connected the dots between Maxine Waters and the hurricanes; Nicole Thurman, an African-American Trump supporter who loves the Affordable Care Act but thinks Obamacare is bullshit; and Tim Baltz, a kind of sidekick to Klepper with a tendency to take things a little too far, like suggesting that neither candidate in Alabama's GOP primary are conservative enough.

All of these characters played well, as did their ring leader, Klepper, whose punchable face actually works to his advantage while playing a character caught up in the white male-centric alt-media landscape. The fact that Klepper is an extremely midwestern white man occupying a late-night spot vacated by Larry Wilmore has drawn criticism from those wishing for more diversity in the late-night landscape. Here's how Klepper addressed it at the breakfast.

"There are a lot of white guys in late night, and I'm very much aware of that. I think in creating the show that was something we were aware of. So what function can I serve to point that out and play with that? I think it is a privilege to be able to be able to do a show like this, and I understand the privilege I've had to be able to get to there. I think the conversations we've had around that are about the people who don't understand that privilege. That is the guy you're going to see onstage. So that is the way I can approach those issues. I am going to be a white man who sits behind that desk. I think what is most interesting for me and for all of us is to be that guy who has that blind spot that we're already mad at. Let me be your punching bag."

If Klepper is going to be another white guy hosting a late-night show, at least the people he has surrounded himself with are diverse—his supporting cast includes two women, two African-Americans and two queer people. It also helps that his whiteness serves some utility in his schtick as a conspiracy theorist. It appears he will aim to use it to show the enormous blind spot most alt-right Republicans have when it comes to their own priviledge.

Will The Opposition be successful where The Nightly Show failed? It seems like it could be, at least. Klepper is a charasmatic host, the jokes are funny and the show revolves around an absurd alternative media landscape that will never stop providing material. It will need to have some sort of next-day life on the internet, which is hard to predict and something The Nightly Show sorely lacked.

At the very least, The Opposition will provide a handy distillation of what is happening in the alt-media world, which otherwise would be an overwhelming and depressing world to venture into without some comedic relief to confirm that yes, Jones claming that the Clintons practice voodoo or that Michelle Obama is a man is as insane as you think it is.