Created by and Starring: Keegan-Michael Key and Jordon Peele
I’m pretty sure that I’m now the go-to gal for reviewing sketch comedy shows for CultureSmash.tv. Luckily, I’m downright silly for them, but a lot of times (cough cough MadTV) they can have a terrible bad to good sketch ratio. My latest review of Season 3 of MadTV in particular warranted probably a 5-to-1 ratio of bad to good sketches, respectively. Key and Peele is yet another sketch comedy show on Comedy Central… let’s cross our fingers and see how it measures up to the the other Colluses of Comedy… or Collosi of Comedy (whichever one sounds funnier).
Key and Peele is created by, mostly written by, and starring the amazingly talented duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. The two are half-black, half-white, and 100% crazy talented. I bring up their race because that is a HUGE part of their schtick. The show is set up like Dave Chappelle’s critically acclaimed sketch comedy show, The Chappelle Show. In his show, Dave Chappelle would give a little stand up between his iconic, pre-taped sketches, like the infamous, “I’m Rick James, B$@h!” sketch that is still quoted today.
Key and Peele might not be as edgy as The Chappelle Show, but I find myself with just as many laugh out loud moments. Let’s start with the two’s stand up routines. These two are fantastical stand up comedians. I’m sure on their own they’re great, but together they are dynamite! They start out the entire series talking about their bi-racial background and how they sound too “white” for some with darker skin (and sadly, sometimes those with lighter skin), but when they are around other black people, they must sound more black… because “no one wants to be the whitest sounding black person in the room.” They end the bit trying to sound like the blackest person in the room by chanting native African chants… most of which I’m PRETTY sure they borrowed from The Lion King.
My other favorite stand-up bit that they have is also in Season 1 when they talk about white guys fighting. The dudes will hold their arms back and yell obscenities at each other, until they “lock horns” and start saying things like “Get your hands off me!” or “Well, you get your hands off my shirt” and “Then get your shirt out of my hands.” But then they end up screaming, “I Love You Man!” while hugging each other. There is also usually a drunk white girl on the side crying and screaming, “Stop it! You two are friends!” But you have to see this bit to really get the hilarious gist of it. If you love “Bro” humor, you’ll love this. I have seen more than my fair share of white dude fights outside of several Nashville establishments, and I can attest that they are quite right. Sadly, I have been that girl screaming on the sidelines, but, if you can’t laugh at yourself, how are you going to laugh at someone else? Jokes about stereotypes hilarious to me… as long as there is a kernel of truth to it… AND as long as no one is left out of the fun.
The sketches are even better. One of the best recurring sketches is The Obama Anger Translator. In my humble opinion, Peele does a better Obama impersonation than SNL’s Jay Pharroh does. Key plays his anger translator, Luther. What ensues is pure delight. We all know that Barack Obama, despite everything, has an uncanny knack for staying cool, calm, and collected. His anger translator takes all of his nice politically correct statements and turns them into overly dramatic smack talk. The best is during season 2, when they talk about Romney’s run for president. When Obama brings up Romney’s “finances,” Luther starts jumping up and down and says, “I don’t know nobody who has a Swiss Bank Account except for Goldfinger and Octopussy. Ya’ll Republicans just nominated a James Bond villian!”
I was also happy to find some great celebrity guest appearances, my favorite being Ty Burrell, of Modern Family fame. He plays a Nazi officer on the lookout for “negros.” Key and Peele put on white face… literally white face… like clown make up (and terribly so too) to fool this German officer that they are just two regular white German dudes. Ty Burrell does a fantastical German accent as he “tests” the two gentlemen to see if they are “negros.” He measures the size of their heads, because “Ze negro head is much smaller zan ze normal human head,” and most laughably breaks out a cat toy to see if the two will freak out, and be impulsively compelled to play with the toy. Obviously, it’s one of my favorite sketches of the entire series.
There are plenty more gems in this series, and for the most part each sketch is genuinely entertaining. There are the occasional duds, but honestly, I do not know of a single sketch comedy show where every single sketch was laugh out loud funny. My only complaint with the show (and it’s very slight) is that while the show is quite edgy, I feel like they are standing on the shoulders of Dave Chappelle without breaking their own ground for an edgier, more different show. But all in all, Key and Peele is rip roaring fun that won’t disappoint… as long as you don’t have a stick up your bum.
Shot for television on Comedy Central the video looks good… even for sketch comedy. But all of the sketches are filmed before hand, and therefore not filmed live like SNL or In Living Color. You can tell a difference between the video in season one and season two, understandably. It looks like the producers said, “Oh, these guys can actually make a bankable series… guess we should go ahead and invest a little more money.” They often parody films, and the film parodies often look just as good as the film itself.
The audio is also great. I have no complaints here. Everything is as it should be for a show like this. Again, anytime that there is a movie parody, the sound is just as good, if not better than the actual film most of the time, with great bed music to accompany. A word to the wise, though, if you intend on marathon watching the show, you’re going to HATE their cute little theme song by the end. I STILL can’t get it out of my head… and although it’s catchy, it wears thin on you after a while. But marathon viewings of shows should be reserved for nail biters like Breaking Bad or House of Cards… so there.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
In this set you get two separate Blu Ray Cases with some great cover art, all in a cardboard sleeve with more great cover art. It’s all clean, funny, and very telling of what you’ve got coming. There are some really great bonus features as well. You get loads of bloopers, including some from the celebrity guests, extra takes from the actual sketches, audio commentary, and my personal favorite, both Key and Peele candidly talking. They have an entire bit where they talk about how they were live onstage and the two split their pants- AT THE SAME TIME! They were at a comedy festival doing their “White Guy Fight” bit that I had referenced earlier, went to lunge, and simultaneously ripped their pants… without planning. I just love that the two seem to be genuine friends in real life. They also have “Vandaveon and Mike’s Critiquer’s Corner,” where Key and Peele play their alter egos that they play on their YouTube show. Although I can see where most dudes would get a couple of chuckles out of it, I feel like these sketches are the boys at their least funny. You can skip over these, unless you’re a stoned 18 year old dude who doesn’t have the intelligence to get the rest of the jokes in the show. Other than that, the bonus features are not to be missed.
Overall (Not an Average)
I’ll admit that I’ve not religiously watched this show, but now that I’ve seen all of the episodes in Season 1 and 2, I’m hooked, and I will now become an avid watcher. And normally, I advise people to steer people away from buying DVDs or Blu Rays of television series, since nowadays you can catch it on Netflix or Hulu+. I can actually this time, though, that this would be a good buy with all of the bonus features and the great navigability of the discs (you can find each sketch quite easily). A good buy for anyone who enjoys laughing at themselves and the differences in others.