Jordan Klepper has no intentions of producing a one-sided series, and his show's portrayal of the plight of deported veterans is just one example of the comedian's appeal to the entire political spectrum.
"The Daily Show" alum's new documentary series for Comedy Central, "Klepper," sheds light on some dark underbellies and unknown struggles in America, but the funnyman says that he's inspired by the movements that the trials have spawned. The show premieres Thursday at 10:30 PM ET.
"I think with all of these — the purpose of this show was to go down and watch people who are taking actions and be kind of on the front lines of activism movements, whether those are larger movements that are environmental, or personal movements, like with PTSD," Klepper, 40, told Fox News.
The comedian appealed to both sides of the aisle in the series and was able to suspend judgment and find at least one "gray area" on which everyone can agree: Support for troops and veterans.
"We're Comedy Central and often come from a more progressive point of view, but the topics we wanted to cover here were ones that went beyond the partisan bickering," Klepper explained. "What we found here — we talked to people, red states and blue states, progressives and people with MAGA hats on, and people down the line were supportive of vets. It felt like the No. 1 thing I kept hearing, no matter where I went, was, 'If you put your life on the line for this country, you deserve to be here and we should protect them.' As frustrating and depressing as that episode can be, seeing that we've left these soldiers behind, what's inspiring was seeing people not based on party whatsoever actually get behind these veterans and understand that's where that patriotism lies."
That stance remained even when some of those veterans were deported because they weren't citizens of the United States — a plight that plagues more servicemen and women than the world may realize.
"We were compelled by that story because this is a story of veterans who fought for this country, and years later they did not get their citizenship, which you are supposed to get and are given if you do fight for this country," Klepper said. "They did not get their citizenship for multiple reasons — some of it was paperwork, some it wasn't explained to them — many expected they had it and they did not. They found themselves on the other side of the law. They served jail time, and when they get out, they're deported. I went to Tijuana where there's a bunker full of veterans who were kicked out who just want to get back to the country that they fought for."
Also in the docuseries, Klepper attends protests of a major oil pipeline in Louisiana (which indicated many residents were just happy to have work in the area), examines discrimination against Native Americans, meets with members of both sides of the gun control and police brutality debates, and even got arrested while reporting on "underground universities" for undocumented immigrants in Georgia.
"There's a place in Atlanta called Freedom University, and it's where undocumented students and DACA students go because they're unable to go to the local public colleges in Georgia due to their harsh immigration laws. It's an opportunity for them to learn — people volunteer their time. It's an inspiring story — the freedom schools are based on the freedom universities of the civil rights era."
Klepper met with faith leaders and teachers during his time at Freedom University. He attended a board of regents meeting with them, which, he says, "inevitably led to me getting handcuffed, thrown out and thrown into jail, which happens sometimes, I'm told."
While Klepper examined both sides of each issue covered, he admitted he wanted to help amplify the voices of the DACA students in that moment because he was so moved by the activism that he witnessed.
That spirit of activism — on all areas of the political continuum — is what makes America great, Klepper said.
"I think overall, this was an opportunity for me to get out and see stories up close. I spent a lot of time behind a desk talking about things from afar. Going out and spending time with people who are actually doing something — it's inspiring," Klepper gushed. "Change can happen, but it's hard. When you're up close, you realize that."
The very fighting that can sometimes divide society, Klepper says, can also unite us if approached properly.
"I was with groups I agreed with, I was with groups I didn't agree with. But the one thing that was unifying with all of those groups is there's this spirit of American resistance and American fight and people who want to see this country better and change for the better, however they see it. People are willing to put their money where their mouth is and get out there. It's inspiring to see that. It's not just a nation of people on their couches, it's a nation of people who go out and try to get things done. And I was happy to take that back to my own couch in New York City."