This week’s episode of Key & Peele is one of the strongest offerings of the season thus far. Let’s jump right in and see what we’re working with:
Long live the legacy of infamous dick picks!(?) Surely we can thank a slew of particularly bizarre headlines (Hi, Anthony Weiner circa 2011!) for inspiring tonight’s opening sketch, in which a politician tries with all of his might to politely address his dick pic habit. A much more developed opening sequence than the show’s typical zinger (which still has a place in this week’s episode, only much later on), this vignette feels right for kicking off the program. It’s delightfully bizarre, and engages the viewer by tapping into both celluloid scenarios, like the wildly heightened drama of a press conference, and current headlines. Indecent exposure is kind of a hot topic right now, making the timeliness of this bit ridiculously choice. Consider this an (intentionally) hilarious entry into the current #penisgate dialog. Thanks, Key & Peele!
Best Line in Show: “Last time I checked, time is still real, okay? So technically speaking, I’m much older now than I was all those seconds ago.”
This sketch—which pits rapper Gun Rack (Peele) against an investigator (Key)—is the highlight of the batch. Called in for questioning in relation to a homicide, Gun Rack coolly denies his involvement in the crime. However, the detective has some pretty incriminating stuff: an album released by the rapper himself (“I Killed Darnell Simmons”) that is intensely confessional…and strangely narrative. Jordan Peele destroys this sketch. His lazy vocals and shifting eyes brilliantly counterbalance Key’s increasingly frustrated detective, and the slow descent into complete absurdity safely delivers the joke to its killer resolution. Not to mention, the cinematic styling here is top-notch. Key & Peele is never one to skimp in this regard, but this bit’s cop drama aesthetic is part and parcel for its inspiration. The blueish color palate, soundtrack stingers, and slow zooms sell this sketch as only a slightly more ridiculous riff of the real deal.
Best Line: “I have no idea what that object is. If I had to identify it, I’d call it a gun… of the long ass variety. Some sea weed in there, too.”
LIGHTNING IN A BOTTLE, BLIP!
I can’t call this my favorite bit of the week, but I will say this: watch this sketch, if only for the chance to hear Peele quietly whisper the name of his pet goose, Honkers. In fact, watch it for Peele’s consistently hilarious spin on even his most insignificant text. What we’re offered are two familiar characters (Cedric and Levi, of last season’s steampunk Ratatouille bit) continuing to interact as strongly disparate personalities. Admittedly, I remember the Ratatouille bit quite well, and fondly, too. But where that sketch was delightful in its quirks, this bit is much, much clunkier. Mainly, its early jokes can’t match the latter’s ones—their employment of certain clichés just doesn’t work as well as others. Then there is a distinct feeling that, perhaps, this sketch was much more clever in theory than practice. Now, that’s not to say it’s not worth your time. But its success hinges entirely on the performance of our titular players. Luckily for us, they’re pros.
“The neck? How you gonna fit his head, through this, with the orange hump shit?”
RAUNCHY FARM HANDS
Key & Peele has included a feminist-leaning sketch in every episode of this season thus far, and here is this week’s dip into the topic. Here, two farmhands try to woo passing women using very different tactics. Key’s character is on the charm-offensive, and Peele’s character is just kinda offensive. When the latter farmhand finally manages to compliment a woman in a “subtle” way, she responds with a raunchy quip that suggests that feminine politeness is a generalization. It’s not a bad premise, but, in practice, it makes for a mostly on the nose concept that feels a tad uninspired. On the performance front, however, Peele is MVP. His completely naive one-word responses to Key’s straight-man archetype take the most basic text and load them with hilarious subtext.
“Did you see the part where all this was going on, shaking your tail feathers and what not?”
“I didn’t see it—I got the worst seat in the house!”
THE GHOST OF STUART FURFLE
Oh man, I’ll go ahead and establish this as my personal runner-up for sketch of the week. I love the idea that living status can’t save a person from awkward encounters with basic acquaintances. I also appreciate the lack of subtext into the relationship of these two men (aside from the suggestion of a LinkedIn invitation, which is probably the most informal, meaningless connection to be had in this modern world). Watching a train wreck conversation, where there is a clear imbalance in reciprocated affection, is a glorious affair. By the end, however, I was distraught by the new sentence of Peele’s character, whose simple act of visiting his grandfather’s grave seals his fate as a now-haunted man. Kind of a dick move on Stuart Furfle’s part, amirite?
Best Line: “Uh…you know, um, I mean, I don’t. When I see LinkedIn, I just delete it without checking.”
“TELL THAT TO THE GUY’S WIFE!”
These zingers always feel like visual interpretations of stand-up material. They are so quick and smart, and easily twist the most unsuspecting topics (here: detective entertainment jargon) into intelligent comedy. In this sketch, a detective (Key) makes a fairly textbook exclamation of “We’ll never catch the guy!” to a fellow investigator (Peele). Peele’s response should be a call to action (“Tell that to the guy’s wife!”), but the detective interprets it literally. The scene’s ending shows Key sharing his initial text verbatim to the deceased man’s wife, still blatantly unaware of his partner’s subtext. This sketch flies by in what feels like seconds, but its clever construction leaves me no doubt that I’ll think of this exchange with every 1980s crime flick I watch from here on out.
INTERSTITIAL CAR SEQUENCES
This week, we cover topics as disparate as snitching on criminal friends, improvising solutions to questions we don’t personally know, and a particularly wonderful exchange on a ghost named Phillip. It’s delightful stuff.