Keegan-Michael Key

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Keegan-Michael Key
Keegan-Michael Key Peabody 2014 (cropped).jpg
Key at the Peabody Awards, May 2014
Born (1971-03-22) March 22, 1971 (age 43)
Southfield, Michigan, U.S.
Occupation Actor/Comedian
Years active 1999–present
Spouse(s) Cynthia Blaise

Keegan-Michael Key (born March 22, 1971) is an American actor and comedian best known for starring in the Comedy Central sketch series Key & Peele, his six seasons as a cast member on MADtv and for co-starring in the USA Network comedy series Playing House.

Early life[edit]

Key was born in Southfield, Michigan and raised in Detroit. His father is African-American and his mother is European-American. He was adopted as a child.[1] In 1989 he graduated from Shrine Catholic High School in Royal Oak, Michigan. Key attended the University of Detroit as an undergraduate and earned his Master of Fine Arts at the Pennsylvania State University School of Theatre. While at The University of Detroit Mercy, he was a brother of Phi Kappa Theta.



Key joined the cast of MADtv midway into the ninth season. He and Jordan Peele were cast against each other so that FOX could pick one black cast member, but both ended up being picked after demonstrating great comedic chemistry.

Key's characters include the semi-psychotic Coach Hines, who threatens students and others at school assemblies. On the penultimate episode of MADtv, Hines revealed that he is the long-lost heir to the Heinz Ketchup company and only became a Catholic school coach to help delinquent teenagers like Yamanashi (Bobby Lee). During seasons 9 and 10, Key appeared as "Dr. Funkenstein" in blaxploitation parodies, with Jordan Peele playing the monster.

Key also portrayed various guests on Real **********ing Talk like the strong African Rollo Johnson and blind victim Stevie Wonder Washington. He often goes "backstage" as Eugene Struthers, an always-ecstatic water- or flower-delivery man who accosts celebrities. There is also "Jovan Muskatelle", a shirtless man with a jheri curl and a shower cap. He interrupts live news broadcasts by a reporter (always played by Ike Barinholtz), annoying him with rapid fire accounts of events that have happened frequently exclaiming "It was crazy as hell!"

Celebrities that Key impersonated on the show include Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Matthew Lillard, Bill Cosby, Al Roker, Terrell Owens, Tyler Perry, Robin Antin, Keith Richards, Eddie Murphy (as his character James "Thunder" Early from the movie Dreamgirls), Sherman Hemsley (as his character George Jefferson on The Jeffersons), Charles Barkley, Sendhil Ramamurthy (as Mohinder Suresh), Tyson Beckford, Seal (originally played by Jordan Peele until Peele left the show at the end of season 13), Sidney Poitier, Lionel Richie, Barack Obama (ironically, Jordan Peele would play Obama on Key & Peele while Key would play Obama's anger translator, Luther) and Kobe Bryant.

He also played female celebrities, including Eva Longoria (as Gabrielle Solis on a "Desperate Housewives" parody), Rihanna (on Key and Peele), and Phylicia Rashād (on MADtv).

Other work[edit]

Key was one of the founders of Hamtramck, Michigan's Planet Ant Theatre, and was a member of the Second City Detroit's mainstage cast before joining the Second City e.t.c. theater in Chicago. Key co-founded the Detroit Creativity Project along with Beth Hagenlocker, Marc Evan Jackson, Margaret Edwartowski, and Larry Joe Campbell.[2] The Detroit Creativity Project teaches students in Detroit improvisation as a way to improve their communication skills. Key performed with The 313, an improv group formed with other members of Second City Hollywood that appears around the country.[3][4] The 313 is made up primarily of former Detroit residents and named for Detroit's area code.[5] Key also hosted Animal Planet's The Planet's Funniest Animals.

He made a cameo in "Weird Al" Yankovic's video "White & Nerdy" with fellow MADtv co-star Jordan Peele.[6] In 2009, Key hosted GSN's "Big Saturday Night", and has co-starred in Gary Unmarried on CBS. Key was a panelist on the NPR comedy quiz show Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me... on March 27 and July 24, 2010. Key has been in several episodes of Reno 911! as the "Theoretical Criminal".

Key and his former MADtv castmate Jordan Peele star in their own Comedy Central sketch series Key & Peele, which began airing on January 31, 2012, and has run for three seasons.[7] Key and his comedy partner Jordan Peele starred in an episode of Epic Rap Battles of History, with Key playing Mahatma Gandhi and Peele playing Martin Luther King Jr.[8] In November 2013, Key stated that he will be returning to Epic Rap Battles of History for the second time in the "Muhammad Ali versus Michael Jordan" battle.[9]

Key and Peele were featured on the cover and in a series of full-page comic photos illustrating The New York Times Magazine article "Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?" on March 31, 2013. A live-action video version was also featured on the Times' website.[10] Key co-stars in the upcoming horror-comedy Hell Baby. Key is one of the rotating "fourth chair" performers in the 2013 revival of Whose Line Is It Anyway?.

In addition to Key & Peele, he also is currently co-starring in the USA Network comedy series Playing House, which began airing its first season in April 2014.

Together with his comedy partner, Jordan Peele, he played an FBI agent in a recurring role in the 2014 FX crime drama Fargo.

Key and Peele will be working with Judd Apatow on a feature-length film for Universal Pictures.[11]


Year Title Role Notes
1999 Get the Hell Out of Hamtown J
2000 Garage: A Rock Saga TV Studio Manager
2001 ER Witkowski 1 episode
2003 Uncle Nino Airport Stranger
2004 I'm With Her Orderly 1 episode
2004–2009 MADtv Cast Member
2005-2008 The Planet's Funniest Animals Host
2006 Al TV Segment 'White & Nerdy'
Grounds Zero Arch
Alleyball Curt Braunschweib
2007 Sucker For Shelley Michael
Frangela Deshawn
2008 Chocolate News Woodsy Guest
Role Models Duane
Reno 911! Theoretical Criminal
Talkshow with Spike Feresten Himself 1 episode
2010 Due Date New Father
Childrens Hospital Cop
The Wild Bunch Grape Vine In Production
2011 Just Go with It Ernesto
The League Carmenjello 1 episode
2012 Wanderlust Marcy's Flunkie
Equals Three Guest Host
Wilfred Lawyer 1 episode
2012–present Key & Peele Various Characters Co-creator
How I Met Your Mother Calvin 1 episode
Afternoon Delight Bo
Childrens Hospital Captain Tripper
Hell Baby F'Resnel
2013–present Whose Line Is It Anyway? Himself Recurring guest performer
2014 The Lego Movie Frank the Foreman Voice
The Middle Reverend Deveaux 1 episode
Playing House Mark Series regular
Let's Be Cops Pupa
Bob's Burgers Beefer Sutherland Voice
Parks and Recreation Joe Episode: One in 8,000
Fargo Bill Budge Recurring Role (4 episodes)
2015 Kitchen Sink [12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Siek, Stephanie (February 24, 2012). "'Key & Peele': The color of funny". CNN. Retrieved March 3, 2012. 
  2. ^ Kuras, Amy (4 April 2012). "Actors Reach Out to Local Teens". Y Community Impact. Retrieved 25 December 2012. 
  3. ^ Calamia, Donald (20 July 2006). "Detroiter Keegan-Michael is 'key' to The 313". Pride Source. Retrieved 25 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Schedule announced: Detroit Improv Festival". Encore Michigan. Retrieved 25 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "The 313". SF Sketchfest. Retrieved 25 December 2012. 
  6. ^ School of Theatre (2005). "Penn State Alum, Keegan-Michael Key, Lands Starring Role as Host of Planet's Funniest Animals". Penn State. Archived from the original on November 20, 2007. Retrieved January 17, 2008. 
  7. ^ Shira Lazar (November 28, 2012). "Keegan-Michael Key Talks Key & Peele Season 3 and Bringing Sketch Comedy to YouTube". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  8. ^ Sam Gutelle (February 25, 2013). "Key And Peele Bring Gandhi, MLK To Epic Rap Battles Of History". Tubefilter. Retrieved February 25, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Keegan M Key on ERB for second time" (Twitter post). Twitter. Keegan M Key. 21 November 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013. "We have a new one coming out after Thanksgiving. Muhammad Ali versus Michael Jordan" 
  10. ^ Streiber, Art (27 March 2013). "The Saintly Way to Succeed". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  11. ^ Mike Fleming Jr. (November 13, 2013). "‘Key & Peele’ Partners Team With Judd Apatow For Universal Pitch Deal". Deadline. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Patton Oswalt, Bob Odenkirk And Ian Roberts Join Genre Mash-Up ‘Kitchen Sink’". PMC. August 19, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2013. 

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