|Key & Peele|
|Created by||Keegan-Michael Key|
|Directed by||Peter Atencio|
|Theme music composer||Reggie Watts|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||53 (and 1 special) (list of episodes)|
|Executive producers||Keegan-Michael Key|
Multi-camera (stage segments)
|Running time||21–22 minutes|
Martel & Roberts Productions
Principato-Young Entertainment (2014–15)
|Release||January 31, 2012 –|
September 9, 2015
Each episode of the show consists mainly of several pre-taped skits starring the two actors. The sketches cover a variety of societal topics, often with a focus on American popular culture, ethnic stereotypes, social awkwardness and race relations. Key & Peele premiered on January 31, 2012 and ended on September 9, 2015, with a total of 53 episodes, over the course of five seasons. A special titled "Key & Peele's Super Bowl Special" aired on January 30, 2015.
Key & Peele won a Peabody Award and two Primetime Emmy Awards and has been nominated for various other awards, including Writers Guild Award, NAACP Image Award and 16 additional Primetime Emmy Awards in various categories.
Comedy Central also maintains an official YouTube channel for the series, which currently has over 4.5 million subscribers and 2 billion views, as of March 2023.
In the first three seasons, an episode would consist of a cold open, with a short sketch. After the intro plays, the two hosts introduce themselves to a studio audience and explain a possible situation, with the following sketch having a similar situation. The show then follows this pattern, with a number of sketches, each varying in length. However, not all the segments are introduced by a studio segment nor are they necessarily on a similar or connected theme. Many of the show's sketches follow a similar comedic form, specifically taking a comedic premise, situation, or turn of phrase, and repeat it in a more extreme fashion, thereby 'upping the ante' of comedic absurdity as the sketch unfolds. As an example, in popular sketch "Consequences", a guest speaker is brought to a school assembly to warn students about the consequences of their youthful misadventures. The speaker starts by telling a story of pattern of youthful misbehaviors and minor substance-use, such as smoking cigarettes and "hanging out on the street late at night" leading to misdemeanors and petty crime, through to "real crimes" which resulted in "being shot out of a catapult into the mouth of a dragon", and later being "sucked into a wormhole, consequences!". Additionally, Key and Peele's sketches often poke fun at aspects of race relations in the modern-day United States, as well as Black American culture writ large.
In the last two seasons, the show eschewed a studio audience in favor of a pre-shot narrative, featuring the duo discussing a concept during a car ride, as the introduction to their sketches.
The series was first announced in June 2011 by Comedy Central. In anticipation of the show, Key and Peele launched a web series in support of the program. The series premiered in January 2012 on Comedy Central in the U.S. and on The Comedy Network in Canada. The first episode drew 2.1 million viewers, making it the most-watched Comedy Central launch since 2009.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||8||January 31, 2012||March 20, 2012|
|2||10||September 26, 2012||November 28, 2012|
|3||13||September 18, 2013||December 18, 2013|
|4||11||September 24, 2014||December 10, 2014|
|Special||January 30, 2015|
|5||11||July 8, 2015||September 9, 2015|
Recurring characters and sketches
- Barack Obama and Luther – The 44th President of the United States, impersonated by Peele, often has difficulty expressing his true feelings, and President Obama's "anger translator" Luther, played by Key, works to interpret the President's low-key statements into raging tirades. One sketch reveals that Obama's wife and daughters each have their own anger translators as well, whom they request help from to speak with each other. Key appeared briefly in-character as Luther at the Annual White House Correspondents Dinner as an anger translator for the real Barack Obama in early 2015. On January 5, 2017, Key debuted an "Obama-Luther" sketch on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
- Wendell Sanders – Played by Peele, Wendell is a nerdy, extremely overweight, friendless man who loves sci-fi and fantasy. He often comes up with elaborate stories to convince others (especially over the phone) that he is not a stereotypical nerd, and that he is calling on the behalf of people other than himself. This includes a very attractive woman named "Claire", with whom he claims to have a relationship, and the 15-year-old son named "Stimpy" they have. (He was put on the spot when questioned about his nonexistent son, and he was close to a plush doll of the character from The Ren & Stimpy Show.) Though his stories are obvious lies, they are elaborate enough that he usually manages to convince the person on the other end of the phone line (usually a gullible man played by Key) that the people in his stories exist. When asked to speak with his fabricated friends and family, Wendell makes up an abrupt event on the spot (usually involving the fabricated person in question being killed) to prevent the person he is talking to from piecing together that his stories are lies, and to end the conversation.
- Mr. Garvey – Played by Key, Mr. Garvey is an angry and intimidating substitute teacher who is a 20-year veteran of urban education. He distrusts his new students (he refuses to allow them to leave for club photos, as he believes that it is a made-up excuse to leave class, even after a schoolwide announcement over the intercom, which he also believes to be fake) and has trouble pronouncing the common names of his mild-mannered and generally white suburban class, though he vehemently believes his pronunciations are correct, such as pronouncing the name Jacqueline as "Jay-kwellin", Blake as "Balakay", Denise as "Dee-Nice" and Aaron as "A. A. Ron", the implication being that he can only pronounce black-sounding names similar to how a white person would have trouble pronouncing African American names. Any corrections from the students are seen as highly disrespectful lies meant to make him look foolish. Mr. Garvey forces his students to acknowledge themselves by his incorrect pronunciations, often at the very real threat of being sent to Principal O'Shaughnessy (pronounced "O-Shag-Hennessy" by Garvey) for disrespect. The only student Mr. Garvey seems to trust is an African American boy at the back of the class named Timothy (accent on the "o") (played by Peele), who is implied to be from the inner city and claims to have a daughter, due to him never standing up to Mr. Garvey. In November 2022, Key reprised the role in an advertisement for Paramount+, in which he teaches a mountaineering class consisting of various children's show characters, including "Blah-Zay" (Blaze from Blaze and the Monster Machines), "B. Louie" (Blue from Blue's Clues), Peppa Pig, "Naughty" (Nate from Big Nate), "K. Room" (Krumm from Aaahh!!! Real Monsters), "Doh-Rah" (Dora the Explorer), and "Bum-blee-bay" (Bumblebee), with the commercial's Timothy equivalent being Aaron Donald.
- Meegan – Played by Peele, Meegan is a young woman angry at her boyfriend, André, who always pursues her from a club, but she won't let him near enough to make up. The distance they cover in their pursuit becomes extreme. Meegan is shown to be extremely selfish and unintelligent, and does not seem to acknowledge social norms. She herself rarely ever receives any sort of comeuppance for the flagrant disrespect she shows to others. When not with André, Meegan is often seen with another woman who acts exactly like her (played by Key), and they often gossip between one other about being shocked by people doing normal acts, and calling them "crazy". They also take many selfies of themselves, but delete the majority of them because they don't like how they look in them, including a picture that had already just been classified as evidence in a crime that they witnessed.
- André – Played by Key, André is Meegan's equally loud, but far more intelligent and polite boyfriend who tends to take the fall for the conflicts she starts with others.
- DeVon – Played by Key, DeVon is the shady and weird landlord who's often suspicious of what goes on in his tenants' apartments.
- Rafi Benitez – Played by Peele, Rafi is a baseball player who makes all his teammates uncomfortable in the locker room, because of his "slap-ass" addiction.
- Brock Favors – Played by Key, Brock Favors is a news reporter who's always ill-prepared for his assignments such as helicopter traffic reports and reporting on police dog training. He always responds to unexpected and sudden events with loud, excited swearing.
- Col. Hans Muller – A Nazi colonel who is ignorant to the truth. He uses "very scientific" methods to find black people (offering them beets, measuring their heads, jingling cat toys). He is played by recurring guest star Ty Burrell.
- Levi and Cedric – Two inner-city friends who often get in rifts because of Levi (Peele) constantly joining new trends such as going steam-punk or getting his own Ratatouille. Most sketches end with Cedric (Key) getting fed up with Levi and calling off their friendship.
- Carlito – Played by Peele, Carlito is a Mexican gangster who believes that very normal or minor acts (including sitting in chairs) are "for pussies", and believes himself to be above doing such acts. He believes himself to be "the crazy one" of the gang, which he will go to embarrassing lengths to prove.
- The Valets – Two valets from the Berkshire Restaurant (who always use unnecessary plurals in names of people, places, or things) who love discussing their favorite movie stars and characters – despite mangling their names and films – such as "Liam Neesons" from Tooken, "Peter Dinkels" (who plays "Taiwan Lannister"), "Bruce Willies," "Michelle Pa-feiffers," "Timothy Elephants" and "Racist-Ass Melly Gibsons". They end the sketch by saying that something related to the star in question is "MY SHIT!", then disappearing, by ways such as flying into the air like a rocket or exploding. In February 2014, a sponsored sketch with the valets titled "What About Non-Stop?" – in which "Liam Neesons" himself shows up to collect his car – was used to promote the film Non-Stop. Key and Peele also appeared in a parody of "The Valets" in one of the teaser trailers for Toy Story 4.
- Karim and Jahar – Two lecherous Middle Eastern men on the lookout for beautiful women. Though they claim to dislike gay people, they often act in a flamboyantly feminine manner.
- LaShawn and Samuel – A gay couple with very differing personalities and views on marriage. Samuel (Key) is very intelligent and well-mannered and exercises restraint when making important decisions. LaShawn (Peele) is very loud and extremely flamboyant and is constantly thinking up often nonsensical and impossible ideas for their future.
- East/West Bowl Football Players – A series of college football players (most of them played by Key and Peele) whose names become increasingly ridiculous as the list progresses, such as "Donkey Teeth", "Hingle McCringleberry", "Huka'lakanaka Hakanakaheekalucka'hukahakafaka", "Squeeeeeeeps", "Eqqsquizitine Buble-Schwinslow", and "Firstname Lastname". The West Team also features players from non-university organizations (such as "Nevada State – Penitentiary" and "Army – Navy Surplus Store"); the last player for the West Team is always a white player with a bland, stereotypically "Anglo" name and not played by Key nor Peele. In the third edition of this sketch, the fictional athletes were joined by actual players with unusual names (such as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Ishmaa'ily Kitchen, and D'Brickashaw Ferguson, whose name was the original inspiration of the skid); the last player for the West team was played by "A.A. Ron Rodgers", in reference to the Mr. Garvey sketches.
- Metta World News – NBA player Metta World Peace (played by himself) delivers the "news," which usually takes the form of presenting bizarre hypothetical scenarios to the audience and his imagined approach to them. This is the only recurring sketch that stars neither Key nor Peele.
- The Black Republicans – A group of outside-of-the-box thinking black men (one member is played by recurring guest star Malcolm-Jamal Warner) who try to convert other black voters to join the Republican party. They are all shown to be similarly dressed in outdated fashion styles such as leather jackets, braided belts, dad jeans, and wire-rimmed glasses. Their catchphrase is "I am pissed, ROYALLY pissed!"
- Joseph – Played by Key, Joseph is a crude con man who fabricates facetious hardships so he can deceive others into helping him out.
- Dr. Rajeev Gupta – Played by Key, Dr. Gupta is an Indian-American doctor who works at a large hospital.
- The Continental – Played by Peele, a strange, eccentric man who opulently and hedonistically indulges in his hotel's free continental breakfast as well as flying Economy Plus. It is unknown if he has immortality, stuck in purgatory, or just very strange.
- Rhinos – The name of sports teams of varying sport, often bearing unusually odd-acting team members. Rafi is a member of the baseball team Rhinos, and Hingle McCringleberry appears as a member of the football team Rhinos.
- Power Falcons – Often portrayed as a rival to the Rhinos. The Power Falcons is also the name of a fictional team of superheroes in an implied reference to Power Rangers, two members of which are played by Key and Peele.
- Tatyana Ali
- Utkarsh Ambudkar
- K. D. Aubert
- Sarah Baker
- Malcolm Barrett
- Tone Bell
- Matt Besser
- Jordan Black
- Wayne Brady
- Paget Brewster
- Bo Burnham
- Ty Burrell
- Kate Burton
- Michelle Buteau
- Anna Camp
- Larry Joe Campbell
- Mekia Cox
- Rob Delaney
- Julia Duffy
- Neil Flynn
- Daniele Gaither
- David Giuntoli
- Fiona Gubelmann
- Regina Hall
- Colin Hanks
- Ryan Hansen
- Tricia Helfer
- Justin Hires
- Meagan Holder
- James Hong
- Anna Maria Horsford
- Clint Howard
- Ernie Hudson
- Rob Huebel
- Gabriel Iglesias
- Nicole Randall Johnson
- Matt Jones
- Rashida Jones
- King Bach
- Art LaFleur
- Lauren Lapkus
- Natasha Leggero
- Tiny Lister
- Kristanna Loken
- Melanie Lynskey
- Hayes MacArthur
- Romany Malco
- Ken Marino
- Alphonso McAuley
- Jack McBrayer
- Kate Micucci
- Jerry Minor
- Mark Moses
- Arden Myrin
- Danielle Nicolet
- Dean Norris
- Adam Pally
- Keke Palmer
- Metta World Peace
- Mekhi Phifer
- Lance Reddick
- Kim Rhodes
- Rob Riggle
- Jason Ritter
- Charlie Robinson
- Rebecca Romijn
- Andre Royo
- Will Sasso
- Richard Schiff
- Jason Schwartzman
- Brenda Song
- Kevin Sorbo
- Paul F. Tompkins
- Malcolm-Jamal Warner
- Michaela Watkins
- Vernee Watson
- Heather Anne Campbell
- Alie Ward
- Stephnie Weir
- Billy Dee Williams
- Gary Anthony Williams
- Tyler James Williams
- Cedric Yarbrough
- Carlson Young
The first two seasons of Key & Peele received positive reviews, maintaining a score 74 of 100 by the review aggregator site Metacritic. The third season of Key & Peele received critical acclaim, receiving a score of 82 on Metacritic. The series won a Peabody Award in 2013 "for its stars and their creative team's inspired satirical riffs on our racially divided and racially conjoined culture". On April 24, 2012, during an interview on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, President Barack Obama told the story of how he had watched the Key & Peele sketch featuring himself with "Luther, his Anger Translator", saying that "It's pretty good stuff – it's good stuff." Additionally, on April 25, 2015, during the White House Correspondents Dinner, Key reprised the role of Luther, President Obama's anger translator during the event. Dave Chappelle has accused the show of copying the format he established years prior for Chappelle's Show, but states that he is still a fan of the show.
Awards and nominations
|2013||Writers Guild of America Awards||Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) Series||Rebecca Drysdale, Colton Dunn, Keegan-Michael Key, Jay Martel, Jordan Peele, Ian Roberts, Alex Rubens, Charlie Sanders, and Rich Talarico||Nominated|
|65th Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Makeup for a Multi-Camera Series or Special (Non-Prosthetic)||Scott Wheeler, Suzanne Diaz||Nominated|
|2014||Peabody Award||Entertainment honoree||Key & Peele||Won|
|66th Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics||Episode: "Substitute Teacher #3; Joshua Funk, Rebecca Drysdale for "Les Mis"||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series||Jay Martel, Ian Roberts, Jordan Peele, Keegan-Michael Key, Alex Rubens, Rebecca Drysdale, Colton Dunn, Rich Talarico, Charlie Sanders||Nominated|
|Outstanding Makeup for a Multi-Camera Series or Special (Non-Prosthetic)||Episode: "East/West Bowl Rap||Nominated|
|Outstanding Hairstyling for a Multi-Camera Series or Special||Episode: "Substitute Teacher #3"||Nominated|
|2015||People's Choice Awards||Favorite Sketch Comedy Series||Comedy Central||Nominated|
|67th Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Variety Sketch Series||Comedy Central||Nominated|
|Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series||Keegan-Michael Key||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series||Rebecca Drysdale, Colton Dunn, Keegan-Michael Key, Jay Martel, Jordan Peele, Ian Roberts, Alex Rubens, Charlie Sanders, and Rich Talarico||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special||Brendan Hunt, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, and Rich Talarico for Key & Peele's Super Bowl Special||Nominated|
|Outstanding Picture Editing for Variety Programming||Phil Davis, Christian Hoffman, and Rich LaBrie (Segment: "Scariest Movie Ever")||Nominated|
|Outstanding Hairstyling for a Multi-Camera Series or Special||Episode: "Aerobics Meltdown"||Nominated|
|Outstanding Makeup for a Multi-Camera Series or Special (Non-Prosthetic)||Episode: "Episode 406"||Nominated|
|Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program||Key & Peele Presents Van and Mike: The Ascension||Nominated|
|2016||68th Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Variety Sketch Series||Comedy Central||Won|
|Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series||Keegan-Michael Key||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series||Comedy Central||Nominated|
|Outstanding Hairstyling for a Multi-Camera Series or Special||Episode: "Y'all Ready for This?"||Nominated|
|Outstanding Make-up for a Multi-Camera Series or Special (Non-Prosthetic)||Episode: "Y'all Ready for This?"||Won|
|Outstanding Picture Editing for Variety Programming||Rich LaBrie, Neil Mahoney, Nicholas Monsour, and Stephen Waichulis for Episode: "The End"||Nominated|
|Outstanding Production Design for a Variety, Nonfiction, Reality, or Reality-Competition Series||Episodes: "Y'all Ready For This?"; "The End"||Nominated|
Vandaveon and Mike
Key & Peele have also created a YouTube commentary of their episodes under their alter-egos Vandaveon Huggins and Mike Taylor. Vandaveon and Mike analyze an episode, and suggest that low brow humor would make it funnier. These videos were also added to On Demand offerings of Key & Peele episodes. On March 12, 2014, Comedy Central announced the network was developing an animated spinoff starring Vandaveon and Mike as 12-year-old hall monitors, in association with Key and Peele.
Other film and television
Key and Peele have appeared as a comedic duo, usually in tribute to the show, in various film and television series. This includes the following:
- In the final three episodes of the first season of Fargo (2014), Key and Peele play wisecracking FBI agents Bill Budge and Webb Pepper, who seek vengeance against main antagonist Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) after he takes advantage of their distraction from their conversation to commit a ramgage.
- In the film Keanu, Key and Peele play cousins Clarence and Rell Dresden who infiltrate a gang to retrieve a stolen kitten. Both also served as producers, with Peele contributing to the script.
- In the animated film Toy Story 4, Key and Peele voice carnival toys Ducky and Bunny, who assist Buzz Lightyear throughout the film.
- In the animated film Wendell & Wild, Key and Peele play the titular demons. Peele also co-wrote and co-produced the film.
On September 25, 2012, Comedy Central and Paramount Home Entertainment released "Key and Peele – Season 1" on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Both formats feature bloopers, outtakes, a "Poolside Interview," audio commentary with Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, "Backstage," "Split Their Pants," Key & Peele live at the South Beach Comedy Festival, and an easter egg of the show's theme song.
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