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Key and Peele Season 2: Obama and Race are the Punchlines in New Season of the Political Comedy

Key & Peele, a sketch and stand-up comedy show on Comedy Central now in its second season, broadcast its season premiere on Wednesday night.

Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, both MAD-TV alumni, are partners in this show (think Batman and Robin) and exude great chemistry, both on and off-stage. They’re both biracial and seek to use humor as a way to break some ground in facilitating a much-needed discussion on race — both men see themselves as moving between two worlds. For this reason, they see television as a means of exploring themes central to what it means to be black in America, they also thing its quite appropriate to parody President Obama.

Premiere review

In between each sketch, both Key and Peele explain the inspirations behind the sketch —they also arev the audience up with funny anecdotes. On the premiere, they talked about their meeting with President Obama and how the meeting felt to everyone involved.

Their first sketch, retold their meeting with the president and the pre-conceived ideas about him that were changed once they finally met him. He was, infinitely “cooler, taller and handsomer” than they had imagined. 


The first sketch shows a young Barack Obama in Occidental College circa 1980 already flexing his executive decision-making skills in order to get people of diverse backgrounds working together in order to throw a party. And in the process, Obama smokes "some righteous bud." Wow.

In the next couple of scenes, Obama is seen at a party hidden in back room, rolling a joint and explaining that a way to get different coalitions to work together is making sure that people have access to weed. I like where this analogy is headed. Somehow they manage to link the process of rolling joints to the American political process. 

Retaining the integrity of the Constitution is of the utmost importance because this binds the American people's conception of "exceptionalism" but in the process to make sure that people to get too far apart ideologically and economically.

This sketch may once again move us along on the debate to legalize marijuana, but also symbolic of what that weed represents. It’s whatever each party thinks is worth fighting and dying for in order to preserve our American way of life.

The second sketch is religious in tone. Jordan Peele plays Jesus trying to save Mary Magdelene from her pimp, Galileroy. She doesn’t believe that she’s worthy of being saved but the pimp is adamant to take her back to her wicked ways. In the end, Galileroy is tired of fighting over Mary and slaps Jesus on one side of proverbial cheek and is astonished that such behavior, albeit one that extols Christian virtues such as charity and forgiveness is admonished to be "gangsta." At the end, they partake in a meal, and a painting of “The Last Supper” is seen. 

 

 

The third sketch had me laughing. In this sketch, they mock the judges (especially the high numbers of British judges) who preside over a faux reality dance show Who Thinks They Can Dance. The judges are clueless about how to judge contestants and their talent.

Here, the contestant, Joseph, struts his stuff but is dismissed by the British judge. Joseph concocts all types of reasons that he ought to receive a winning ticket to proceed to the next stage: no formal dancing instruction, domestic abuse …

“If I won this competition I could put a roof over my house ‘cause I have a house with no roof.”

That Joseph had brought out his 12-year-old daughter and blind granddaughter who is seen walking across the stage with sunglasses, a walking stick and trench coat is breaking the established rules and nets him a winning ticket.  

This sketch made me think about how often reality shows are stepping points for young people to gain fame and notoriety, but also as a way to become "unstuck" in one’s station in life. One example: Jennifer Hudson.

Fourth sketch: A re-enactment of a Civil War speech by an unspecified Confederate general with soldiers sitting around him listening. He preaches the idea that the Civil War was a battle of conflicting ideas in order to preserve a way of life, a southern way of life.  Therefore, no government can take this away from them.

It gave some insight on conservatism political thought and reaffirming that the continuation of the foundations that this country was founded on meant that civil rights for some people were not upheld.   

In this sketch, Key and Peele also play up to stereotypes as slaves in an exaggerated way. Key and Peele pay homage to another famous show, The Jeffersons. When this show made its debut in 1975, it was a groundbreaking show that provided social and political commentary and sought to show African-Americans as "moving on up." 

In a particular scene of The Jeffersons, Florence was dressed up as a slave bemoaning her "oppressor" and this sketch made similar comparisons. Key and Peele played up the stereotypes, and stole the antique firearms being used in the Civil War the re-enactment. In doing so, they fulfilled the stereotypes that society expects them to have.  Brilliant!

Recap

Although “Luther,” Obama’s fictional anger translator didn’t make an appearance, this premiere was pretty funny. It sought to use humor and connect people by imagining a world where color lines are nonexistent. The creators view humor as an unfiltered and instinctual response 

There's a formula that the show seeks to use: twisting old ideas and bringing new, fresh and vibrant ways to think about contemporary politics and American pop culture. Although the target demographics for this show are males between 18-34 years old, I think this show can appeal to everyone. The mixing of the old and new injects different ways to think about our past.  

Grade: 8.0/10

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