What do Comedy Central, White people, Black people and President Obama have in common? Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key. The comedians star in the half stand-up, half sketch-comedy hit, Key & Peele, now entering its second hilarious season. The executive-producing duo honed their chops on MADtv and use their experience (Key appeared in Reno 911! and Peele in Chocolate News) as fodder for a range of offensive one-liners to some basic yo’ mama jokes.
“The best thing sometimes for a comedian is to have a person say, ‘Oh no, they did not just do that,’” says Key. During its first season, Key & Peele was seen by 2.1 million viewers, making it the network’s biggest series launch since 2009. Key, 41, says he’s pleased with the show’s success thus far. “I couldn’t have imagined it going any better for [our] first go-round,” he says. “It’s nice to be at the helm of the ship and be able to say, ‘This is the tone we want.’”
The show’s fans include the POTUS himself, who enthusiastically endorsed Peele’s presidential imitation. The two got word of Obama’s sentiments via an unexpected shout-out on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
It was “surreal, to say the least,” says Key. “There was a feeling of delightful shock, but at the same time, there is this interesting sense of brotherhood because we all three come from the similar background of mixed race.”
The comedians consider their partnership an easy one, according to Peele, 33. “We’ve always had a spot-on working relationship. I think we’ve made the best collaboration, sketch-wise, together.”
For season two, viewers can expect more diverse parodies and sketches.
“We are spending a little more time playing characters of other [ethnicities],” says Key. “[Our] comedy certainly has no racial dimension to it at all; it’s just meant to be funny.”
Adds Peele: “We got our show, and we had our first season; it’s time for us to play and enjoy it.”