Kal Penn wants to reach young voters from all over the political spectrum. The 43-year-old comedian is starring in the new Freeform show Kal Penn Approves This Message, premiering on Tuesday, Sept. 22, which is also National Voter Registration Day, making the show's timeliness even more appropriate.
"Kal Penn’s message is start to get out there and vote," Penn tells ET's Denny Directo. "We wanted to make a funny, fun, uplifting show you can watch, or anyone can watch on Freeform or Hulu... I love the humor of The Daily Show and I love the warmth of CBS Sunday Morning, but nobody’s combined the two before."
Instead of focusing on every story in a breaking news cycle, Penn is more interested in what's led us to this crucial election.
"I don’t really care what somebody running for some office had to say in the last five minutes, we don’t need that clip," he says. "Instead, let's talk about the history of how we got the right to vote at 18, or who's working on climate change issues together. We wanted it to be this funny, uplifting thing six weeks into the election."
Penn is especially interested in the impact young people can make, noting their impressive turnout during the 2018 election.
"This time in particular I’m more hopeful because you have a lot of people who have been active in different social movements over the last year and a half that we haven’t seen before," Penn explains. "They’re plenty of people on the left and plenty of people on the right."
The actor adds that he wants to understand people with all different views.
"I’ve been talking to a lot of friends who think differently than me," he says. "I have a friend in West Virginia. He’s a veteran, he’s an NRA member, he’s deeply conservative. And I want his opinion of whether I’m considering his life experience and the issues that we’re covering 'cause this show is for everybody."
When it comes to the race between Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and current President Donald Trump, Penn thinks it's important to vote even if you don't agree with either candidate on all issues. Penn spoke with ET before the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday, but the issue of selecting new justices was on his mind.
"You might not agree with a lot of what either of the two presidential candidates have to say, but their governing philosophy is gonna impact who they nominate to the Supreme Court. So you’re gonna have to pick because it is gonna affect us no matter what," Penn says. "Same thing with something like climate change. You know, I mentioned young evangelicals and young progressives working together, you know, those are the two groups of young people. One approaches climate change from science, the other approaches it from faith. I’m not interested in having a fact vs. opinion conversation on our show. I want to talk about solutions and the reality is both groups are working on climate change legislation."
In addition to the presidential election, Penn also wants to emphasize the importance of local elections.
"It’s not just who is running for president, it’s who's running for your city council?" he says. "Who’s running for local school boards? That can be decided by you and your eight friends showing up to vote. Period. That’s gonna sway how much your tax dollars are being spent and what programs we have."