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Home » A Comedian’s Take on How to Save Democracy: Jordan Klepper (Transcript)

A Comedian’s Take on How to Save Democracy: Jordan Klepper (Transcript)

Here is the full transcript of comedian Jordan Klepper’s talk titled “A Comedian’s Take on How to Save Democracy” at TED Democracy 2023 conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


When TED asked me to be a part of this democracy event, I was flattered. When they told me it was a pro-democracy event, I paused. Like, really? We still think this is a good idea? Giving everyone a voice?

Have you talked to everyone? One in 10 Americans believe chocolate milk comes from brown cows. We want those people weighing in on foreign policy. Because if democracy is hearing from the voice of the people, consider me skeptical of that conversation. Because I think we’re incapable of having it. Any conversation. Frankly, we’re bad at talking to other people.

Didn’t always used to be this way. In the old days, it came naturally. We would talk to folks, we would negotiate over food or child care. So your kid didn’t get eaten by a bear or run off and invent fire.

But since then, it’s gotten harder, more difficult. Screens have placed an impediment between people and thought. Partisanship has made talking to someone outside of your own POV traumatic. Now, talking to somebody with a different point of view than yourself is to be avoided at all costs. It’s like paying taxes. Like, you should do it, but if you can avoid it, makes you smart. It’s an awful time for conversations, so much so that even right now I’ve opted for a lecture. I won’t be taking questions. I find it easier to speak at you.

How Did We Get Here?

So how did we get here? Well, as someone in their 40s, I’m legally obligated to point the finger at social media. The cultural conversations we have are dictated by the forums we have them in. And all those forums, they just push us towards short, loud outbursts. Maximum volume, short duration.

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