The 10 best Key & Peele sketches

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Key & Peele, the uproarious and groundbreaking sketch comedy show ended its iconic 5-year run this week, leaving behind a smorgasbord or unforgettable characters that will forever endure in the annals of pop culture and YouTube clips. Though it’s sad to see the show end, it’s hard to fault the dynamic comic duo of Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele from ending the show while at its apex. After all, it’s far better to go out on top, leaving the audience wanting more, than overstaying your welcome by a year or three.

Still, I can’t help but already feel the gaping comedic void that will be left behind, now that these two talented comedians have decided to pursue new projects. At its best, Key & Peele perfectly skewered race relations, pointing out the contradictions, hypocrisy, and yes, utter unfairness of society. But to reduce Key & Peele simply to a series of sketches about white privilege or societal imbalances does it a disservice. In fact, oftentimes, the best sketches had very little to do with race, and very much to do with simply being funny.

I combed through hours of Key & Peele sketches (tough job, I know) to try and pick out my 10 favorite sketches during the show’s incredible run and came up with the following list. With apologies to many, many sketches that just missed making the cut.

10. “Awesome Hitler Story” – Ty Burrell makes his second appearance as the clueless Nazi commander. Although some may prefer the first skit introducing Burrell as an inept hunter of Jews and black people, I still gravitate towards this one that has Burrell completely missing that fact that the Allies soldier he shot is still alive, all while trying to tell the story of his chance encounter with Der Fuhrer to an increasingly exasperated Peele.

9. “Alien Imposters” – A classic Key & Peele spin on how whites and blacks are treated differently. The skit takes the premise of an alien invasion, and then poses the question, “What if Aliens had no idea that the color of your skin meant different things to different people?” The results are both hilarious and sobering at the same time.

8. “Ultimate Fighting Match Preview” – As a UFC fan, I’m a little biased here as I could completely relate to the over-the-top theatrics of fight night promotions between two fighters. But here, Key & Peele take it to the next level, giving us a newcomer who understands how the hype game is played, and a religious fighter who speaks as if the ring were a temple built for him to ritually slaughter his opponents. The juxtaposition of harmless hyperbole and religious extremism is perfectly played for laughs.

7. “Aerobics Meltdown” – A throwback to Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies videos, but with a unique twist. One of the dancer’s family was in a terrible car accident, and another dancer is the prime suspect. Only they are both on stage and have to keep on dancing. More ominous and weird than purely funny, this skit shows that K&P don’t need to always go for the big guffaw to keep things fresh and interesting.

6. “Fighting Meegan’s Battles” – Meegan was a favorite recurring character, and some might argue that the first appearance of Meegan and Andre is superior, but this second sketch that showed Meegan in her iconic aggressive/vulnerable form and somehow gave both characters greater depth (well, as much depth as these two caricatures of modern bro culture dating could have). And the sight of the beleaguered Andre continually taking a beating for Meegan’s entitled princess behavior was truly unforgettable.

5. “Obama’s Anger Translator” – To be honest, I feel like K&P went back to the well a few too many times with this recurring sketch about Luther, Obama’s anger translator. However, I still can’t forget the first time I saw this sketch on the premiere of the very first episode, and how much I laughed at the sight of a calm and rational Barack Obama, and his loose cannon translator. This remains an iconic Key & Peele sketch, and one that helped launch the show into mainstream awareness.

4. “Liam Neesons” – Speaking of recurring characters, another popular sketch introduced us to two overexcited and overstimulated parking attendants and their obsessions with pop culture. Everything from the pairs “impersonations” of their favorite actors to their spastic movements as they reenact movie scenes works stupendously.

3. “Retired Military Specialist” – Even Rambo has to grow old sometime. This is the basic premise of the sketch that shows us what happens when someone who was always called upon by the military in times of need, suddenly isn’t. This sendup of action movie clichés is showcases Key and Peele’s strength in poking fun at tropes that are so prevalent in pop culture.

2. ”Black Country Singer” – It’s quite off-putting to see a black guy sing racist white songs without any idea that the songs he’s singing are totally, totally racist. And the way that Keegan-Michael Key defends these racist songs as “traditional country music imagery” only ratchets up the humor in this hilarious sketch.

1. “East West Bowl #1” – If this were simply a sketch that said, “Oh, those football players and their funny names!” it would not have a place in the Hall of Fame of sketch comedy. No, the true genius of this sketch is the way Key and Peele slowly build up the comedy, going from odd, yet believable names like, TJ Juckson and D’Marcus Willums to the increasingly ridiculous Ozamataz Buckshank and Scoish Velociraptor Maloish. And when they land the hammer of “Dan Smith…BYU” to close out the skit, I literally fell to the floor in tears. This sketch is a master class in comedy, and I have seen few things funnier on television.

There were at least a dozen more sketches that I wanted to include, but ultimately I had to cut it off at some point. If there are any that I missed, feel free to call out your favorites. But personally, these are the 10 sketches that continue to make me laugh, even the tenth time through.

So thank you Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key for always making me laugh over these last five years. If I could define your comedy in one word, I’d simply say that it was NOOICE!

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