Within the first few minutes of Jordan Klepper Solves Guns, The Daily Show correspondent’s new hour-long Comedy Central special, the host seemingly beats the drum of leftist elites whose politics are boisterously anti-gun. “I’m enlightened, I’m progressive, and I feel like was put on this Earth to enact righteous change,” he quips while walking through the National Mall. “As a television personality, I’ve repeatedly reported on America’s obsession with guns. Despite my incredible efforts, guns are still a problem.”
Klepper, who’s set to get his own half-hour program later this year, debuted on the Jon Stewart-led program in 2014 and made a name for himself reporting on gun-related stories. With Trevor Noah at the helm, the native Michigander garnered praise for segments detailing Donald Trump rallies — for which, amazingly, interviewed attendees didn’t punch him in the face. In a previous interview with Uproxx, he credited his 6’4″ frame with avoiding said punches, but as Jordan Klepper Solves Guns proves, the comedian’s success (and pristine face) owes its longevity to his willingness to make satire personal.
As most Daily Show fans already know, the Jordan Klepper depicted throughout Solves Guns isn’t the real deal — especially when he touts his “righteous” resolve against guns. “I do lean left when it comes to the gun issue,” he tells me, “but if we’re being honest, there’s definitely a perspective on the right that assumes people on the left are all just like this character. They inundate gun owners and gun rights advocates with statistics. They want to rid the right, who they view as a bunch of hicks who live in the woods, of all of their guns. It’s an overblown character and doesn’t really exist among the people I know on the left, but I understand the fear.”
Yet before you begin typing your complaint below, consider what Klepper says less than two minutes after introducing his parody of a leftist anti-gun crusader. The otherwise impersonal character gets personal with a reference to Kalamazoo, Michigan, which made national headlines in February 2016 when Uber driver Jason Brian Dalton went on a shooting rampage and killed six people. “As we started building this, there was a shooting in my hometown,” Klepper explains. “I was already having these conversations with my family, who were seeing gun issues all over the news, and now it was happening right there. We needed to talk about it.”
“I’d been talking to Comedy Central about doing a longer special for a little bit,” he continues, noting what became Jordan Klepper Solves Guns was in the works long before the Kalamazoo shootings. “In all my Daily Show pieces about guns, I realized I was having the same conversation, over and over again, with people who were trying to make rational moves forward with gun issues and running into the same wall. That’s when it began to feel like something that was very personal to a lot of people. And I wanted to talk to them, especially those people who were trying to do something good, but who weren’t getting their voices heard. I really wanted to help them tell their story.”
The host set about trying to accomplish this in Jordan Klepper Solves Guns with three complementary approaches. First, he would parody the popular image of anti-gun progressive voices pro-gun conservatives feel are trying to squash their Second Amendment rights. Then he would give those “who were trying to do something good” a larger platform. As for the third and final touch, Klepper wanted to dig into his personal connections to enrich the discussion. All of which already sounds like a tall order — until you consider the moderate gun culture of Michigan Klepper calls home.
“Even before the Kalamazoo shootings,” he says, “I was already thinking about the gun issue, especially after doing the pieces I did for The Daily Show. But as somebody who grew up in Michigan, I came to realize that a lot of my friends out here on the East Coast didn’t necessarily get it. They weren’t these East Coast liberals who think guns are bad and should be deported, sent overseas and allowed to sink into the ocean. People like that do exist, both in real life and in satirical comedy shows, but my experiences in Michigan taught me guns weren’t necessarily a black-and-white issue.”