Key & Peele has officially ended, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to celebrate the phenomenal sketch series. With a spotlight on the utmost talents of its namesake, an affection for absurdity, and a fearlessness in addressing the culture we live in, Key & Peele has permeated the public psyche in ways that most comedy outfits only dream of. Not to mention, with its top-notch production design and cinematic values, it’s looked good as hell doing it. These things considered, here are highlights from the series’ farewell season, which wrapped on Wednesday night.
Now, somebody give these men Emmys, already!
This sketch absolutely nails childlike allure towards pretty things. Here, Key plays a man mesmerized by a jar of marbles on his supervisor’s desk. We can hardly blame him, thanks in large part to the visual tone shift and soundtrack accompanying every shot of that glorious jar. Key & Peele has never skimped on production values, and they’re in full force here. This is a beautiful, bizarre and oddly relatable bit, and one of the season’s greatest.
9. Rap Album Confessions
There’s no forgetting Gun Rack and his ultra confessional track, “I Killed Darnell Simmons,” back from episode five. This sketch shows a face-off in an interrogation room between a rapper and an investigator that is doomed from the start. That’s because the aforementioned track spells out, in intense detail, the crime in question. The heightened dissonance between Gun Rack and his straight man cop counterpart is absolutely hysterical, and its flawless mirroring of blue-tinted cop dramas is a testament, once again, to the show’s amazing art department.
8. Prepared for Terries
You’ve gotta love watching Key and Peele go there: that jubilantly bizarro place that few other programs successfully—or even dare—venture. This sketch, you’ll remember, features two wacky airline passengers who garble half-decipherable words about terries (i.e.: terrorists), sport the craziest facial hair imaginable, and lick their guns while preaching their agenda to the poor, unsuspecting man seated beside them. Although hilarious at face value, this sketch does a prime job of mining topical events and news stories on terrorism, ultimately turning a national phobia into something entirely funny.
7. Pirate Chantey
It’s always a fun time when Key & Peele explores less obvious genres. An over-the-top musical number with a few celebrity cameos (Hi, Rebecca Romijn!), this sketch was one of the many feminist-leaning concepts that Key & Peele showcased out this season. Memorable, poignant and shareable all at once, this sketch is a fine example of the program’s vivid imagination and commitment to crafting dialog. With its large ensemble cast, beautiful visuals and fun writing, this is one of the season’s catchiest offerings.
6. Meegan and Andre’s First Date
This has become one of Key & Peele’s most beloved recurring sketches, likely due to Peele’s killer characterization of Meegan. But even beyond that, it’s damn near impossible to not enjoy watching the dynamic between these two wretched people (insert car wreck analogy here). In this digital age of Facebook and reality television, we all have ample opportunity to take a peak at toxic relationships from a safe distance. A humorous deconstruction of such relationships, however, is less readily available—and that’s where spoofy Meegan and Andre come in. As if that wasn’t enough, this bit has the best line out of the entire season: “Do I look like Mad Max to you? Then why the fuck is water a rare commodity around here?” It just doesn’t get any better than that, folks.
5. Valet Guys and Vally Kilmers
We were treated to two valet guys appearances in the show’s final season, and, as fantastic as that Game of Thrones chat was, I give the edge to their sketch from episode six. In it, the men contemplate the careers of “Robert Downeys Juniors” and “Vally Kilmer,” which culminates in a hilarious on-screen epiphany and some of the season’s finest physical comedy. Just think of all the cult films and television sensations of tomorrow that we’ll never see these men discuss. Oh, it’s a cruel world…
4. Trigger Happy Cop
This sketch shows Key & Peele at its most poignant. In it, Key plays a white cop who repeatedly shoots at black passersby, under the bullshit assumption that each of them is armed. It’s a familiar, tragic story that doesn’t seem like the stuff of comedy, but the show finds a punchline in its inherent absurdity. Here, senselessness is dressed up as slapstick humor, in what is ultimately a unique approach to dissecting realities that are beyond belief. This program has often acted as a voice of reason in a world that’s increasingly difficult to understand, and its perspective will absolutely be missed.
3. MC Mom
“Crispy socks here, crispy socks there…” I imagine I’ll get this uber catchy (and totally vulgar) refrain stuck in my head from time and again for the rest of my life. I think I’m okay with that. MC Mom was, bar none, one of the most enjoyable damn sketches of the entire series. Fun, light and featuring an incredible turn as a fed-up suburban mom from Jordan Peele, it’s hard not to consider this bit one of the show’s finest.
2. Teaching Center
This sketch packs an incredible punch. At once flawlessly mocking ESPN sports programs and saying a hell of a lot about our society’s attention to teachers, this bit single-handedly redefines what contemporary sketch comedy can achieve. The fact that it went viral isn’t the triumph; rather, it’s that Key & Peele made important social commentary accessible through laughter, and millions of people watched on.
Negrotown is Key & Peele’s most ambitious sketch to date, and an unforgettable way to close out the series’ five season run. It embodies so much of what has made Key & Peele a staple series: it’s a gorgeous looking sketch, a perfect blend of cinematic tropes and social relevance, and, point blank, has a hell of a lot to say. Shared as our nation continues to toil with the gross injustices aimed at black men and women, Negrotown is a visceral and engaging – if not an upsetting – affair. That’s not to say it’s without humor, though. It’s got that, too. This is a masterpiece, plain and simple.
Honorable mentions: Neil deGrasse Tyson at home, Andre 3000 vs. Big Boi, 9-1-1 Responder, and Obama/Luther vs. Clinton/Savannah