Key & Peele
The newest sketch comedy series on television, Key & Peele, just recently premiered on Comedy Central right after the season 4 premier of Tosh.O. The show is hosted by former MADtv cast members, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, and features a format similar to past Comedy Central sketch comedies: a live audience combined with previously recorded skits. At the very beginning of the show Key and Peele announce to the audience that they are “coming out”…as biracial men, half black and half white, and it seems from the very get-go the show will include content that can swing both ways, or multiple ways, racially speaking, creating a more organic form of satire.
For instance, in one skit, two married men swap stories about telling off their respective wives. Before each one tells the part of the story when they call their wife a “bitch,” they look around to make sure their spouses aren’t listening. The two search for a private, safe place to recount their supposed manliness which eventually leads them into the far reaches of space. Besides satirizing the stereotype of domineering black women, the skit also pokes fun at the cliché of submissive husbands, marriage – specifically amongst the middle class – and gender roles in general.
Key & Peele isn’t necessarily gut-bustingly funny. The sketch about the married men did seem to get redundant after awhile, the studio banter between the hosts and the audience felt a little strained, and some skits – most notably the reality TV spoof, “Gideon’s Kitchen” – paled in comparison to others. However, there were moments of genuine levity. The “Lil Wayne in Prison” sequence was humorous, if a little predictable. The rapper acts tough, of course, as if he runs the place, and ends up getting shanked or worse. But the real gem of the show is Jordan Peele’s dead-on Obama impression, which just may be the best out there (leaps and bounds above SNL’s Fred Armisen, for sure).
Most have already drawn parallels between Key & Peele and other shows fronted by black comedians, such as Chappelle’s Show or In Living Color, but such comparisons are tricky and don’t do justice to either of those shows. True, Key & Peele discusses issues of race and ideas of blackness, but unlike its predecessors, Key & Peele does so in a supposedly “post-racial” America. Whether or not this context is crucial to understanding or appreciating the show might be beside the point. The real point is that Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key have put together a decent sketch show, not great, but solidly entertaining. Clocking in at half an hour, the show doesn’t wear out it’s welcome. Here’s hoping that Key & Peele will see a fruitful run on Comedy Central.