Did you watch Key & Peele last night? If not, get on over to Comedy Central’s website pronto. At this point, you should already know that our remaining time with this duo is limited, precious, and—silver lining—culminating in a strong farewell season. Anyway, let’s get to it:
This week’s opener is also the choice “preview” sketch for K&P social media. It’s not hard to see why. This short sketch is the perfect length for sharing, with a self-contained structure that undoubtedly convinced someone at Comedy Central of its viral potential. Essentially, it’s a spoofy commercial for a courtroom reality television show. It’s helmed by a ridiculous jack-of-all-trades judge (Key) whose professional (and not so professional) background includes stints as a trial lawyer, surgeon, and “crack ho.” As much as I enjoyed this out-there parody of Judge Judy-esque programs, it’s not as memorable as, say, the valet guys or job interview sketch we’ll get to later. Regardless, it is admirable in its profundity. This short vignette packs an incredible punch, with a well-developed and nicely executed parody that’s playful and engaging. Also: am I weird because I’d totally watch this show?
Best (Line) in Show: “Unrelated popcorn fire, Your Honor.”
Sleek, footed in familiar territory, and completely bizarre, this vignette shows job applicant Noah Sanders (Peele) witnessing a glorious interaction between a hiring employer (Key) and the other interviewee that he has become fast friends with. It’s based on that interview day insecurity of being upstaged by a previous candidate, and, consequently, dead upon arrival in the interview room. We can’t help but side with Peele’s character as he witnesses the increasingly animated exchange, which reaches an emotional climax with the gifting of a particularly sentimental ship-in-a-bottle. Even though the writing and performances here are stellar, it’s the tiny details that triumph. The visual trappings of 1970s corporate America—warm hues of oranges, yellows, and blues, wacky suits, statement facial hair, and droning elevator music—is a kind of perfect storm for this light-hearted, slice-of-life scene. That said, I don’t see any reason that this sketch wouldn’t work in a modern setting. Coming from a chick that’s mastered the role of recent grad stereotype/hire-me-dammit job applicant, the immediacy of a contemporary, disgruntled interviewee might have added another appreciated dimension to this sketch.
Best (Line) in Show: “Jeez, is this a job interview or the Carol Burnett Show? Know what I mean?”
In this sketch, one friend helps the other come to a major life realization (well, sort of) using only one word for the duration of their conversation: “okay.” Of course, it’s not a stagnant exchange. Peele, who was given the task of loading the refrain with varying subtext, knocks it out of the park. There is never any doubt about the intention behind each “okay,” partially because of clues provided in Key’s character’s dialog. That said, this scene is anchored by—and successful because of—Peele’s expression, and watching him do his thing is a treat to watch. Regardless of great turns on both actors’ parts, however, this remains one of this week’s less memorable sketches. Admittedly, it had already begun to slip my mind just after finishing the episode.
Best Line: The final, reconsidered “okay,” after the reveal of the cheating (but super hot) boyfriend.
This season, we’ve—fortunately—been treated with appearances of many of Key & Peele’s most memorable characters. This week, we’re reacquainted with those two pop culture savvy and perpetually stoked valet dudes. You know the ones—they add gratuitous y’s and s’s to actors’ names, and, that one time, Liam Neeson (joyously) crashed their shift. This go around, our valet men talk of Roberts Downeys Juniors and Vally Kimler, their films, and the trajectories of their respective careers. This gives us several hilarious moments, like the vivid recalling of Sherlocky Holmes “in the pit,” and a riotous exchange on Willow, which I’ve shamefully never seen, but feel certain that I must, immediately. This particular sketch is so, so funny. It’s perfectly timed, wonderfully choreographed, and seems like a genuinely fun turn for Key and Peele. Ugh, can we just convince them to stick around for a season six (and seven…and eight…)?
Best Line: “What about Vally Kilmers in that Willows though? When he was Madmartigan? And he was in that medieval toboggan? And the little leprechaun, talking about, ‘you are great!’”
As deserving of Golden Globe recognition that Keegan-Michael Key is, it really is a crime that Jordan Peele wasn’t honored similarly. Let’s be real, both men are insanely good at what they do, but Peele’s ability to morph into such disparate characters is absolutely incredible. In this sketch, Peele takes on the role of Agent Decker, a kooky military man who is totally inept in this high stakes scenario, but ultimately successful thanks to coincidence. As usual, Peele does a killer job assuming this role. Even the most inconsequential widening of his eyes, strengthening of his gaze, or delivery of his lines make it easy for a viewer to get lost in the comedy of this “serious” situation. It might be a familiar conflict between the straight man character and his ridiculous counterpart, but the sketch absolutely could dip into total tedium. But Key and Peele just nail it.
Best Line: “Whyyyy, what’s the matter, General? Everyone’s putting their hand in the laser.”
“It’s not a laser, it’s a hologram.”
This sketch rolls by in a snap, but it’s my favorite of the week. Cleverly constructed, with two distinct twists, this sketch plays upon a viewer’s initial reaction then rejects it, all before affirming that it was right all along. Allow me to explain: in this sketch, Key’s future in-laws express discomfort over their white daughter’s relationship with a black man (Key). The setting, with its distinctly 1950s décor and clothing, strengthens this notion. Key’s character finally stands up to her parents, calling them out for their prejudices. It’s followed by his exit from the dining room, where his reptilian tail is revealed as—possibly—the subject of prejudice he was discussing. In the end, they all have tails; these parents are just racist. But the journey we take to get there is experimental and (for fear of using this word too often) joyfully absurd. This kind of material makes Key & Peele so unique. The show takes its audience any which way to get to a punch line, and it almost always pays off.
Particularly wonderful exchanges abound in this week’s car sequences, including a genuine fit of laughter during our titular characters impromptu game of charades. I also loved the false fact that Meryl Streep was in Weekend at Bernie’s. Holy shit, that’s hilarious. Someone rewrite that Wikipedia page, now, pleeease to say: “She was the one that was making out with Bernie. And they were holding Bernie up and he was hooking up with her. That was Streep.” We also have Peele stating his desire to become an action hero (ground, I think, we have covered before), and Key’s subsequent punching of his co-star’s love handles. Best use of these car sequences yet.