All these aforementioned stars had to adopt a sort of fake-newsman persona to thrive in that awkward sphere, and Klepper is no different. In his three years on the show, he’s stood out for his mockery of that specific faux-expert haughtiness you might catch from a cable-news reporter filing a remote segment. Now, like Colbert, Oliver, and others before him, he’s getting his own show, debuting sometime later in 2017; it’ll follow The Daily Show in the 11:30 p.m. timeslot recently vacated by Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show.
Jordan Klepper Solves Guns comes across as a trial run for Klepper’s forthcoming host personality. While correspondents on The Daily Show serve a specific purpose, working as intentionally hyperbolic sounding boards for the more deadpan host (now Trevor Noah, previously Jon Stewart), having them host their own show is a somewhat harder needle to thread. Colbert solved it by dialing the parody levels up to 11, making his Daily Show character a cable news pseudo-expert with godlike delusions of grandeur. Oliver went a more serious route, turning his HBO series Last Week Tonight into a newsy half-hour that dives into one big story, in-depth, for the entire episode. Wilmore attempted something approaching a panel show with round-table discussions, while also sprinkling in comedic monologues.
Klepper doesn’t have quite as defined a personality as any of these aforementioned stars. With a bouffant hairstyle and a tall, thin frame, he’s a Conan-esque goof unafraid to employ physical comedy, but less reliant on truly out-there silliness; like other correspondents, he needs to keep one foot in the real world to maintain the newsy illusion of his pieces. “Jordan Klepper” the Daily Show character doesn’t feel very removed from the real Jordan Klepper; he’s an admitted liberal trying to understand and break down issues, even if his on-screen persona’s self-satisfaction is a little more vivid.
It’s probably the right approach for 2017, as he acknowledges in the opening monologue for Jordan Klepper Solves Guns. This is the era of the comedian-as-thought-leader: Late-night hosts like Seth Meyers, Samantha Bee, and Oliver are looked to as public intellectuals who weigh in on current events with long, well-researched pieces. It’s a formula Jon Stewart helped establish, but Stewart was always resolute about his status as a comedian and “pretend” newsman, mocking other news networks for their inconsistencies and inaccuracies. As news drifts further towards entertainment, and vice versa, those distinctions feel less and less crucial.
So Klepper’s right to mock it, turning Jordan Klepper Solves Guns into his own one-man odyssey to resolve one of America’s most polarized political topics by talking to experts, performing on-camera stunts, and intoning his noble goals in a hilariously self-serious monologue. As he acknowledges at the top of the show, he’s just another 2017 comedian: Whatever his ideals or however woke he is online, he’s not going to solve any of the country’s issues in an hour-long special.