Five things we learned at… Key & Peele's New York Comedy Festival show
On a snowy night following Obama's electoral victory, two sketch comics honor the President and let their bums be touched.
Thu Nov 8 2012
Photograph: Dale May
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele know how to give the crowd what it wants. After house lights went down but before the sketch comics took the stage, someone in the house loudly whispered, "OBAMA!" Sure enough, a moment later, the guys appeared as Obama and Luther—Obama's anger translator—and the crowd went bananas. In reference to the close race, Luther put it this way: "Y'all had me sweatin' balls for, like, three hours there!"
Key got gams. During an improvised monologue by Peele—which cast him as the principal of a privileged Upper West Side school—Key eventually loped onstage as "Coach." His wardrobe: a polo, ladies' yellow camo shorts pulled up past his belly button, long tube socks and a mustache made of black tape. You may have seen them do Michael Jackson kicks or lunges on TV, but yes, those legs go all the way up.
A sight gag and flimsy premise can pay off tenfold with the right level of commitment. During the aforementioned scene—most of which was a direct address that cast the crowd as the student body—the duo identified the school's supposed troublemaker (a "bum toucher") and sat him in a chair onstage. The young guy, agog and loopy, could barely stop himself from pawing the performers. Key, unfazed, chastised this supposed troublemaker, barking with his face mashed against the kid's forehead. Eventually, Key stepped onto the chair and curled himself up and over the kid, who finally gave in to some light groping. When it became clear both the audience member and Key were having a great time, the audience got over its squeamishness and roared.
New York might be the best city for a ballcap joke. In one unaired sketch, two guys play a game of what Key & Peele call "black one-upmanship." When one kid sees another's hat with a price tag and stickers on it, he returns wearing a new hat, still in a plastic shopping bag with a receipt stapled to it. Not to be outdone, the first kid straps a display case to his dome…only to find the other guy now has a sweatshop laborer making a hat on his head. The audience hooted in recognition throughout.
Native Americans need to do it with one another. During a farewell song, presumably called "What the Fuck Are You?," the gents celebrated America's melting pot and their inability to figure out the nationality of "swirls" like Dwayne Johnson or Rosario Dawson. They encouraged everyone to make babies with someone of a different race—except for Native Americans, who need to "keep the numbers up." After this final mandate for interracial love, the performers got a standing ovation.