Season 4 of Key and Peele’s outrageously funny and unapologetically smart series, “Key and Peele,” roars back to Comedy Central Wednesday, Sept. 24.
Happy days are here again! If you haven’t caught on to the fact I’m a fan, let me state it plain: I’m a fan! These savvy businessmen can also wear the tag “comic genius” with ease. And if you’re not familiar with Key and Peele by now, what the hell’s the matter with you?
Keegan-Michael Key (married, 43 years old, from Detroit) and Jordan Peele (single, 35 years old, from New York City) first met at a sketch club in Chicago, and then worked together on “Mad TV,” creating comedy with such a signature style of sketch writing and performance dynamics that it demands that you keep eyeballs on them at all times.
This year, they were named to Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list. They were also featured on the cover of the magazine’s “Ideas” issue. They also won a prestigious Peabody Award, which honors programming excellence.
On their busy press tour to highlight their new season, I got the opportunity to chat with the dynamic duo. It sounds easy, but a cellphone battery drama had me begging—in the rain—for Harlem store owners to let me get a quickie charge.
A final text from the tense publicist, chastising me on my tardiness that simply said, “This isn’t good,” motivated me to reframe, and I placed myself inside a Key and Peele sketch scenario.
“Yo!” I shouted at a deli owner, whose Arabic rap music was blasting through the door. “Charge me quick. I’m late for a Key and Peele.” My Brown brother didn’t miss a beat. He replied, “Brazilian [waxing] is better.” Then he added, “Naw, Comedy Central funny men—I know.”
Saved by the healing power of comedy and it’s ability to connect cultures, my interview proceeded.
Here’s what Key and Peele had to share about their new season on Comedy Central and what’s in their Netflix queue.
AN: Brothers, I’m sorry for the delay. My battery died and I was thrust into the 1980s. After the Time magazine coverage, do people know you by your full names?
Peele: People still don’t really know our names: Who’s Keegan? Who’s Jordan? But just this past year, there’s been a difference. We feel very lucky.
Wow, y’all did have a bonus year! What are your favorite characters to play?
Peele: Meegan. Definitely her. I love her and it’s nice to get in touch with my femme side. It’s liberating not to always have to feel “manly.” I work to make her look pretty, even down to her heels, which are terrible to walk in. Like really, what’s that about?
Heels? Don’t get me started! A cruel, sadistic invention by men to dominate women and make it hella hard to run! What about you, Key?
Key: No heels for me. My favorite character is Mr. Garvey, the substitute teacher. He’s clueless to his environment and just doesn’t understand the cultural clues that are all around him. He’s so afraid of the kids trying to “get over on him” that he’s missing every opportunity to connect. He’s single-minded and utterly un-PC. That also makes playing the character liberating. He doesn’t think, but he speaks—a lot.
Your comedy is built on layers of communication, with body language being front and center. Crafted or all improv?
Key: Both. Our sketches are carefully scripted, so thank you for that observation. The funny is in layers, and the body language is definitely part of it.
I’m getting a text from your PR rep to wrap to up. So, last question: What’s in your Netflix queue?
Key: Oh boy. Man, that’s hard. Let me think.
At this point, the conversation had become blended and peppered with laughter and the type of cross-talk that’s associated with long friendships.
Key: Counting backward, the third favorite spot is held by “BoJack Horseman,” “House of Cards” and a documentary about death row—it was fascinating. I think it was called “Into the void.” I was just saying to my wife, “If that type of behavior was in a script, no one would buy it.” Then, it made me think: Is this behavior authentic, or it it just because the cameras are there?
Peele: Human beings never cease to fascinate. OK, in my cue, “Attack on Titans,” “House of Cards” and the documentary called “Let It Burn.”