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‘Daily Show’ correspondent honed funny bones at Kalamazoo College

Flip on “The Daily Show” and there’s a good chance you’ll see “Senior Caucasian Correspondent” Jordan Klepper.

In just a year on the show, his takes on instability in the Ukraine, “Britain’s Non-Issues” and “Star Hack: The Nude Generation” have made him a fan favorite.

A few years ago, you could have seen him on stage during Kalamazoo College’s production of “Glengarry Glen Ross” or with the improv troupe Monkapult, which also counts “Walking Dead” star Steven Yeun among its alumni.

A Kalamazoo native and ’01 graduate of K-College, Klepper credits theater professor Ed Menta for nurturing his love of improv and organizing trips to see Second City, the Improv Olympics and other performances in Chicago.

At Kalamazoo, Klepper honed an act called “Free Pudding” that involved wearing gigantic cowboy hats and serving the crowd – you guessed it – free pudding.

Klepper graduated that year and went to Second City. Over the years, Klepper has moved upward through the ranks, joining the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York City and collaborating often with his wife, Laura Grey, before graduating to “The Daily Show.”

His career may be high-profile, but it’s a lot like others that began at Kalamazoo College and Michigan’s top 15 independent colleges and universities.

Purposefully small, they pride themselves on molding young talent. Smaller class sizes allow passionate faculty to form bonds with students that just aren’t possible at larger universities. Instead of crowds, the colleges emphasize community.

Often less expensive than public institutions, the independents boast higher four-year graduation rates and smaller class sizes for a truly unique and affordable experience.

Be bold. Be different. Go independent.

Steven Yeun: From Kalamazoo College to The Walking Dead

Steven Yeun will have his hands full Sunday night. The Kalamazoo College grad plays zombie slayer/heartthrob and all around good guy Glenn Rhee on the hit AMC show The Walking Dead.

You might be surprised to know Steven never dreamed of being an actor.

Steven was born in South Korea and raised in Troy, Michigan. His parents hoped he’d become a doctor. He enrolled at K College to study psychology with a concentration in neuroscience.

During his freshman year, he attended a performance of the Kalamazoo College student improv troop Monkapult.

“It blew my face off. I was like, ‘Holy smokes, I want to do this so bad,” Steven remembers.

He tried out for the troop, but was rejected. “I was terrible,” Steven says. He took an improv class. He practiced his craft. He set his sights on studying theatre in instead of med school. His sophomore year, it finally paid off. He became a member of Monkapult.

Following graduation, Steven moved to Chicago to continue performing. He earned a spot on the famed Second City stage. He did some voice over work for the Crysis video game series. He acted in a few independent films.

Steven moved to Los Angeles, in 2009 and his career took off. He appeared on Big Bang Theory and Law & Order before landing his breakout role on AMC’s The Walking Dead.

“I’ve just been incredibly fortunate in every risk I took,” says Steven.

Steven continues to do acting and voice work. You’ve heard him on The Legend of Korra, American Dad and the upcoming film Chew alongside Felicia Day.

Steven still finds inspiration from his K College experience. His latest book suggestion? A collection of short stories by Andy Mozina entitled “The Women Were Leaving the Men.” Andy was one of Steven’s professors at Kalamazoo College. “He really pushes the boundaries of storytelling.”