by Julian Spivey
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are ending Comedy Central’s popular sketch comedy series “Key & Peele” on Wednesday night (September 9) after five seasons and more than 50 episodes of some of sketch comedy’s finest moments.
Key and Peele have proven to be masters of comedy, especially when taking on subjects like race and politics and the decision to end their show after only five seasons came as a shock to many. Hopefully the two comedians can go out on top with the one-hour finale tonight, after a mostly weak fifth season.
Here are Key and Peele’s 10 greatest sketches over their fantastic run:
10. Trigger-Happy White Cop
Key and Peele are almost always at their best when taking on the current state of affairs in our country. This is likely no better seen than in a sketch that aired in the season five premiere where a white cop (played by Key) is incredibly quick to judgment and trigger happy when it comes to black people, but will always hold his fire around white folks – even one that looks like he’s about to take on zombies in “The Walking Dead.” It’s probably one of the most controversial sketches the two have ever aired, but it can’t be denied that it speaks to a particular problem going on currently in this country – black people dying at the hands of white police officers. It’s truly unbelievable that Key and Peele could find humor in such a thing that’s often a tragedy in the U.S.
9. Pirate Chantey
Also airing early on in season five, Key and Peele’s Pirate Chantey sketch took on sexism and rape culture. Rape in particular has been a topic of controversy among comedians and whether or not they should joke about it – but if done right it could be hilarious. This sketch of pirates singing about not taking advantage of women is a unique spin on an often over-played subject.
8. Black Republicans
I’ve often wondered over the years how such a thing as a black republican could exist. It’s no doubt something that Key and Peele must find comical, as well, as they brilliantly lampooned this rarity of life into a sketch about a group meeting of black republicans. Among the most hilarious bits of this sketch are Jordan Peele’s speaker talking about the diversity of black republicans and the camera panning to the small crowd of guys who look entirely like each other and the identical gestures and mannerisms of everybody in the sketch.
7. Alien Imposters
Alien Imposters goes back to what is probably Key and Peele’s biggest strength – joking about race. In this sketch the world has been attacked by aliens and Key and Peele are survivors, armed and on the lookout for aliens trying to trick them. When they come across a redneck donning Confederate flag clothing asking them to come live with a small group of survivors they realize there’s no way in hell this guy is a real human and they shoot him. When a white businessman answers that he’d let Key date his daughter it’s again a sign that it’s an alien trickster. My favorite moment of the sketch is when the duo comes across another black guy and they ask him what he thinks about the police and he responds, “I loved their third album.” Of the many sketches poking fun at race throughout this show’s run this is one of the very best.
Key and Peele will often do sketches that are really outside of the box and frankly more often than not I find these to be among their weakest sketches. But, when they decided to poke fun at the nerd culture of steampunk I found it to be a true highlight of their work. However, this sketch doesn’t seem to have hit a comedy nerve that much of their work has and this is likely the only list you’ll see this particular bit appear on. Key plays what can be considered your stereotypical thug Cedric who’s waiting on his friend Levi (played by Jordan Peele) who rides up on a tricked out bicycle dressed in steampunk attire to the bemusement of Cedric. The funniest moment of this incredibly smart sketch, in my opinion, is when Cedric tells Levi he doesn’t even know what steampunk is and Peele’s character says, “Jules Verne and shit.” It’s without a doubt in my mind Key and Peele’s most underrated sketch.
5. Valet Guys
Key and Peele’s Valet Guys is probably one of their most recurring sketches alongside Luther the Anger Translator. The Valet Guys is the perfect lampoon of pop culture in that it manages to flawlessly combined nerd culture and black culture into these two guys who are absolutely crazy about movies and television. From their fan boy conversations on Batman and “Game of Thrones” to Mellie Gibson and Liam Neesons the sight of these two guys absolutely nerding out remains funny no matter how often Key and Peele goes to them.
4. Gay Wedding Advice
Black culture, for some reason I obviously wouldn’t know, has always seemed to react slightly differently to gay marriage and gay culture than white culture does. Key and Peele picked up on that brilliantly in their gay wedding advice sketch from a couple of seasons ago in which a black family in preparation for the gay wedding of their cousin invites a gay man into their home to explain what will take place. The gay man (Keegan-Michael Key) tries to explain that a gay wedding is pretty much done just like a straight wedding, but the family continues to ask him hilarious questions about whether men should wear dresses and women wear suits and whether or not they should throw couscous or skittles instead of rice at the ceremony. From start to finish this is no doubt one of the funniest sketches in “Key & Peele” history.
3. East vs. West Football Introductions
Key and Peele have pretty much been the top of the comedy game when it comes to poking fun at sports culture over the last five seasons, as they have with all sorts of other cultures. This is no better seen than during their football introductions sketch in which they not only lampoon televised football introductions, but also some of the wackier names in black culture. Key and Peele play all of these characters themselves with an assortment of crazy wigs and facial hair (something the show has been brilliant with over the years). It’s a very simple sketch with just player after player announcing their names, but with names like Javaris Jamar Javarison-Lamar, Hingle McCringleberry and Ozamataz Buckshank it keeps you laughing throughout. The great punchline of the whole bit is the one white guy thrown in at the end named Dan Smith.
2. Substitute Teacher
The Substitute Teacher sketch from early on in the “Key & Peele” run has probably become the most quoted sketch in the show’s history. The sketch revolves around an inner-city substitute teacher who’s used to a tougher class of students going to a middle class predominantly white school and the reactions between him and the students. The funniest part of the sketch is the substitute teacher’s inability to pronounce the names of the white kids, in a similar theme to the ridiculous names in the football sketch. The substitute teacher pronouncing the name Aaron as A-A-Ron is something that’s likely going to live on in the pop culture lexicon for many years to come.
1. Luther the Anger Translator
Keegan-Michael Key’s Luther the Anger Translator is the greatest character “Key & Peele” has ever come up with and is one that will live on in the annals of classic sketch comedy characters for as long as the medium of sketch comedy television series exists. The idea to have President Barack Obama give a speech and have an angry black man saying what the President really wants to say to his many critics was brilliant. The sketch is absolutely made by Key’s performance as Luther, but his hilarity is heightened by Jordan Peele’s absolutely perfect impression of President Obama. I’ve seen many Obama impressions over the years and none are better than Peele’s. Luther the Anger Translator has become such a huge success in pop culture that Key made an appearance as Luther this past spring during the annual White House Correspondents Dinner backing up the actual President Obama.