It’s been nearly a year since Comedy Central canceled Jordan Klepper’s nightly show The Opposition but the comedian still gets a sparkle in his eye when he talks about Alex Jones.
The former Daily Show correspondent has since moved on to host the weekly docuseries Klepper for the network, leaving behind the crazed, right-wing conspiracy theorist character that caught the Infowars founder’s attention when The Opposition first premiered.
“Alex Jones became aware of what we were doing with the show and would occasionally engage with it, as would his fans,” Klepper tells me on this week’s episode of The Last Laugh podcast. “They love to go online and come at you.”
“I can’t remember what it was that set him off but he did a whole rant about it,” he continues. “The big joke he had was that nobody could remember my name, which is fair, I get it, good comedy bit. So I was ‘Keppler’ and he did a giant rant on ‘Jordan Keppler.’ He is many things and one of them is creative when it comes to naming—and beliefs and fearmongering.”
Of course, as soon as he realized Jones was going after him on this show, Klepper saw an opportunity.
“So we, getting to be satirical, got to embrace that and also go at ‘Jordan Keppler,’” he says. “From the point of view of Jordan Klepper, this ‘Jordan Keppler’ guy sounds like a terrible liberal cuck who we should go all in on. So I still have it out for that guy.”
Not long before The Opposition was canceled, one of Klepper’s “citizen journalists” Kobi Libii—who also appears on the new show—got the chance to confront Jones to his face after a speech he delivered to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He accused Jones of being a “crisis actor” and made jokes like, “If you’re the real Alex Jones, why haven’t you offered to sell me any supplements yet?”
“The thing that stands out to me from that moment is that Kobi just essentially echoed everything he said back to him,” Klepper says. “Because Alex Jones likes to get on his high horse and just spew the same bullshit over and over again. And I think the thing that you can do to defeat Alex Jones is just repeat it back to him. If he has to hear the stuff that he spews, that’s how you shut that guy down.”
Klepper says it’s been “shocking” to see how much of the Infowars mindset has been infused into President Trump’s id over the past couple of years. “We already started to see, as we were building The Opposition, the Alex Jones ideas infiltrating the right’s talking points,” he explains. But to see the president himself retweeting Infowars videos, is a whole new level.
As for the attempts to “deplatform” Jones, Klepper adds, “You have to own the things that you say and when you do spew hate speech on a private platform and it does cause people to stalk outside of Sandy Hook families’ [homes]—victims’ families are getting bullied by these people because of the hate speech—yeah, there’s going to be consequences.”
Klepper laughs when I ask whether he’s seen the deposition video in which Jones appears to drop his persona and is finally forced to tell the truth. “I caught a little bit of that,” he says. “And I do think it’s amazing when you have to swear upon a Bible and admit to everybody that I do kind of play a character.”
“Whether or not that sticks for the people who have put such faith into him, I don’t know,” he adds, “but you can’t spew that much hate into the world without some of it coming back at you.”
Next week on The Last Laugh podcast: Creator and star of Showtime’s Who Is America?, Sacha Baron Cohen.