Comedy Central will try to recapture some of that back-to-back late-night magic once again.
The network announced Tuesday that the 11:30 p.m. time slot will go to “The Daily Show” veteran Jordan Klepper. Stephen Colbert occupied that crucial post-“Daily Show” time for nearly a decade, followed by Larry Wilmore for about 18 months — and both of them also came from “The Daily Show.”
Jon Stewart hired Klepper back in 2014, and since then he’s become best-known as an overly serious newsman character whose sarcastic field pieces and man-on-the-street interviews attempt to catch people in logic traps of their own making.
“We’re going lock her up, of course,” one Trump supporter tells Klepper in a December segment. The correspondent responds: “Some people are saying, ‘She’s a good person, she shouldn’t be prosecuted.’”
“Well, they’re liars,” says the supporter. Klepper is quick with the retort: “Well, that person is Donald Trump.”
Klepper has frequented Trump rallies as part of his “Fingers the Pulse” series. And he also set out to become a licensed gun owner in a December 2015 segment called “Good Guy With a Gun.”
Klepper’s work has received attention in a crowded late-night comedy landscape, where going viral has become increasingly important. Some of his segments have wracked up millions of views on YouTube.
“Some of the smartest, most hilarious, and often most frightening election coverage this year has come from a very specific place, and an unlikely one considering how much the show continues to struggle with ratings and critics,” comedy site Splitsider wrote in August. “To sum it up, if you haven’t watched Jordan Klepper’s segments on ‘The Daily Show with Trevor Noah’ over the last few months, you’re missing out.”
“The choice to entrust me with the 11:30 p.m. timeslot is both incredibly humbling and deeply disturbing,” Klepper said in a statement. “Without a doubt, it has utterly destroyed my confidence in Comedy Central’s decision-making acumen.”
In October, Klepper guest-hosted for Trevor Noah who was out sick, an assignment some viewed as an audition of sorts. Recall the summer of 2013, when John Oliver performance as a guest host helped pave the way for him to get his own HBO show?
While Comedy Central lost Oliver and Samantha Bee (who went to TBS), the network has managed to keep others in-house. In addition to Klepper, there’s Jessica Williams, who left “The Daily Show” over the summer after striking a deal with Comedy Central that includes a narrative scripted pilot.
Klepper’s show is still in development and its format is murky. It will be produced by Klepper, Noah and “Daily Show” alum Stuart Miller. Comedy Central said in a release that the show “will look to embrace and define the chaos of our country by channeling Klepper’s steadfast attitude that institutions are to be trusted less than the lies of the mainstream media.” The host will also “surround himself with a hand-picked team of contributors contractually obligated to reinforce his singularly correct world view.”
Comedy Central’s schedule is undergoing a bit of a revamp. On Monday, the network announced Trump impersonator Anthony Atamanuik will head up a weekly satirical Trump talk show, starting April 27. And Australian comic Jim Jefferies is reportedly on tap to host a weekly half-hour talk show, debuting this summer.
The shuffling of new late-night hosts in recent years has sparked a conversation about diversity. Currently, Bee is the only female late-night host on a major network, and Noah is the only black host.
Wilmore referred to his show’s demise with a phrase he used on-air to describe the end of President Obama’s tenure: “The Unblackening.”
“I’m really grateful to Comedy Central, Jon Stewart, and our fans to have had this opportunity, but I’m also saddened and surprised we won’t be covering this crazy election, or ‘The Unblackening,’” he said in a statement in August. “And keeping it 100, I guess I hadn’t counted on ‘The Unblackening’ happening to my time slot as well.”
Wilmore, who has had a successful career in television comedy as a writer and showrunner, saw his show suffer in the ratings, particularly after Noah took over “The Daily Show.” The show “hasn’t resonated,” the network president said at the time.
“Even though we’ve given it a year and a half, we’ve been hoping against hope that it would start to click with our audience, but it hasn’t happened, and we haven’t seen evidence of it happening,” Kent Alterman told the New York Times.
After Wilmore left, the Chris Hardwick-hosted “@midnight” began airing at 11:30 p.m. With this new Klepper show, Hardwick will presumably move back to midnight.