The 15 Best Key & Peele Sketches

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Sketch comedy shows have been enjoying a resurgence in recent years, and this is due in no small part to the success of Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, which reinvigorated the sketch realm when it debuted in early 2012. The duo brought impeccable writing, an amazing array of characters and impressions, strong points of view, and satire that enlightens tough topics with a twisted irony. The show also owes at least part of its success to an incredible directing team that goes the extra mile to make each sketch look as close to the source material as possible.

Key & Peele’s fifth season starts July 8th, so I compiled my 15 favorites of its sketches so far. In a show with absolutely no filler, these were tough choices, but luckily I was up for the challenge of re-watching all of Key and Peele’s hilarity.

15. Text Message Confusion

Season 4, Episode 3

Do not doubt, Key and Peele take most of their sketches big, but they can still bring it down to the simple but incredibly relatable—who hasn’t made the mistake of misinterpreting a text because it lacks tone of voice?

14. Scat Duel

Season 4, Episode 10

It’d be easy to make a best of Key & Peele list solely of its musical sketches, each of them accurately twisting the genre being satirized. Scat Duel is set in a 1963 jazz club, where arguing musicians must perform in the middle of their fight over a woman. And of course their juvenile insults find a way into their scatting. It’s worth it for their climactic build up alone, but a cameo from none other than Parks and Recreation’s Retta pushes this one to the top.

13. Dicknanigans

Season 4, Episode 10

It’s not hard to poke fun at pretentious, self-aggrandizing performance art, but Key & Peele managed to do it by making the dumbest possible show masquerading as deep social commentary. The final cherry on this ludicrous sundae is the reaction shots of self-congratulatory audience members (played by K&P writer Rebecca Drysdale and Childrens Hospital’s Seth Morris) as they smugly “get” each snippet. Bonus: Chelsea Peretti.

12. Les Mis

Season 3, Episode 1

Key & Peele’s Les Mis parody calls attention to the unnaturalness of movie musicals (“Why are we all facing this way?”) as it perfectly apes the style of the movie. Meanwhile, Keegan’s general just can’t do his solo without getting interrupted.

11. Power Falcons

Season 2, Episode 9

This revisit of the 90s-era Power Rangers will take you back to a time when each ranger was addressed by their assigned ranger color, which in some cases matched an unfortunate stereotype of their race. K&P twists the actual ridiculousness one better by mystifyingly calling the Green Falcon (played by Peele) “black Falcon” mid-city-saving-operation, which calls attention to the ways people often emphasize race over other present signifiers.

10. Georgina and Esther and Satan

Season 4, Episode 3

As Georgina and Esther, Key and Peele truly disappear into their characters, all because they empathize with them instead of mocking them. Here they prove the devil is no match for two church ladies and their prayers. Watch the uncensored version for the full effect.

9. Come Back, Meegan

Season 2, Episode 7

Jordan Peele’s recurring Meegan is so great in every appearance, but in this sketch with Andre, her come hither looks to him each time he gives up really sell the joke. They’ll argue themselves to their graves.

8. Hoodie

Season 3, Episode 1

This minute-long blackout sketch is the perfect commentary on events like Trayvon Martin’s death and Ferguson (though it aired before the Ferguson protests last summer and fall), as it shows Jordan resorting to special tactics so he can be safe walking in a neighborhood.

7. Sexy Vampires

Season 3, Episode 7

Leave it to Key & Peele to get down to the bottom of the real mystery of vampires: why are they always sexy goths? Keegan plays a regular-dude vampire whose fashion choices do not meet with approval from Jordan’s head sexy vampire, and he soon calls their entire way of life into question.

6. Baby Forest

Season 1, Episode 8

If there’s anything more unnerving than a grown man’s face transposed onto a toddler, it has to be Jordan Peele’s Forest Whitaker impression transposed onto a toddler. “Goo goo ga ga” has never sounded so frightening. Keegan-Michael Key’s terrified straight man gives Baby Forest the grounded reality needed, even as Peele heightens the terror by demanding a personalized rendition of “Hush Little Baby.”

5. White Zombies

Season 2, Episode 6

In this early sketch, Keegan-Michael and Jordan are running to survive the zombie apocalypse. The offensively good news? The zombies are racist.

4. Funky Nonsense

Season 3, Episode 9

Of their musical sketches, this one is easily K&P’s most ridiculous. It’s not just the non-sensical lyrics, but the attention to detail in the production, from their 70s funk get-ups and spacey guitars to the grainy image, as though it was found in archival footage from the era.

3. Obama’s Anger Translator: Victory

Season 2, Episode 7

Since the first episode, one of the show’s best recurring sketches has been Luther, President Obama’s Anger Translator, who gets angry in the president’s stead as he spouts Obama’s subtext. Peele’s laidback Obama impression paired with Key’s intense Luther make each one a classic, but Victory is my personal fave for one reason: dueling Hammer dances. This has made the internet rounds already, but if you haven’t seen Key’s appearance as Luthor at the White House Correspondents dinner, it’s also worth a watch, along with this additional Luther sketch that breaks their regular address-the-nation mold.

2. Liam Neesons

Season 2, Episode 3

It’s tough to choose only one of Key & Peele’s valet sketches when in truth I could watch them excitedly describe the virtues of shoelaces, but this one truly calls for going back to the beginning: Liam Neesons. This peas-in-a-pod sketch could soar on their physicality alone but offers so much more. All you want is to feed these guys more things to be overly excited about.

1. East West Bowl

Season 2, Episode 2

No matter how many times I’ve seen East West Bowl, it never fails to make me laugh uncontrollably. In lesser hands, this send up of college all-star games would be just a list of ludicrous names paired with schools, but what makes it is the glee with which both Key and Peele embody each character—making each one so specific. And hats off to the K&P hair and makeup team—it’s those wigs and various beards that really send each individual character over the top.

Erica Lies is a writer and comedian in Austin, Texas. Her work has appeared in Splitsider, Bitch, Rookie Mag and The Hairpin.