Comedy Central’s 4th season of “Key & Peele,” starring the hilarious duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele premiering Wednesday, September 24.
“Key & Peele,” is an original new sketch-comedy show that examines life in a provocative and irreverent way, through a combination of filmed sketches and live stage segments. Whether it’s satirizing the president, spoofing Nazis, or ordering up some soul food, Key & Peele showcases their chemistry, camaraderie and unique point of view, born from their shared background and experiences growing up biracial in a not quite post-racial world. No one is off limits with their comedy!


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Read our exclusive interviews with the comedians below: 

 

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Q: Talk about how it feels to have your show go into its fourth season?

 

Jordan: Wow, it’s kinda surreal you know. I mean its been what, 3 years Keegan?

 

Keegan: 3 years yep.

 

Jordan: It’s surreal. Everything has escalated so quickly. It felt like the first season and second season you know we were doing this show and hoping that we would get picked up for the next season and then somewhere right around then in season 3 and all of a sudden it felt like a machine. I mean now we’re getting recognized everywhere. This is crazy! It’s hard for the mind and the spirit to catch up really is what I’m trying to say.

 

Q: So what is it like working with each other for this? I mean I saw you guys during MadTV but how does that kind of translate?

 

Keegan: The good thing about doing the show together is that we already have a shorthand with each other. And so we didn’t need to start from scratch to learn each other’s sensibility. We didn’t start at a 1, we started at a 5. So all we’ve been able to do so far is evolve. There would have been no room for evolution had we had to start from the beginning. If we had made it to season 4 I think we would just be hitting our stride now whereas I felt we were hitting our stride at the end of 1 going into season 2. Because you know we still had sea legs as producers, that was a new experience for both of us. Like I’d be like oh you need my opinion on whether this costume is good or oh you need my opinion on where we’re actually going to shoot that sketch because when you’re an actor you have none of that power. Yeah, so I think that’s what translated the most, that there’s already a relationship there, a shorthand there, there’s less explanation that needs to happen.

 

Q: So a lot of your sketches tend to push the boundaries and make the audience sit at the edge of their seats. What inspired you guys to you know, push things to the limit.

 

Jordan: Every sketch show in comedy experience  that has inspired us has that quality. Whether it was SNL, In Living Color, The Tracy Ullman Show, they all dealt with material that was daring that was new, that was fresh and then when you talk about the edge of your seat, something that we love about sketch comedy is that you don’t know what’s going to happen next. So that’s where we get the desire in all of our sketches to at some point take a turn that you could not have predicted. We feel that the moment an audience knows what happens next, we sort of lost them. So those are the opportunities where we can predict what the audience is thinking this one thing so let’s take them over here and pull the rug out from under them. Otherwise you just feel like the other alternative, our competition, is narrative shows that have stories and characters that you’re going to get invested in, you’re going to be tuning in. A sketch show, we cater towards people who want to be surprised.

Q: Can you take me through your creative process for making the sketches?

 

Keegan: Yeah! so what we typically do in the writing process is that we have a pitch meeting in the morning and everybody comes in with their ideas and all the writers, it’s a very collaborative process. There’s 2 other executive producers and then there’s 6 writers and they come to us with all manners of ideas that they came up with in all manner of ways and so it doesn’t matter how they got inspired. Then what happens is that you throw an idea out to the group and then the group jumps on the idea and tries to make it the best, funniest idea it can be and then you’ll usually end up in 3 or 4 different alternative ways of taking the sketch and then the writer has the authority to pick one of those ways. Like there will be A, B, C and D and then writer will go, “Hey, I really like B, I really like B, I am going to write a sketch based on idea B”. That’s one way to go about it. Sometimes the writers will ask, “Hey, are there any ideas to share with the group today, but I have an idea in my mind that’s almost fully realized and then they just write it down and they make the sketch that way. So at the end of the week, there’s a mountain of sketches for the producers to go through and say, “Oh I like this direction, or I would change this, or rewrite that, or give this character more to say”. And then they just keep going until we’ve compiled hundreds of sketches, and out of those hundreds of sketches, we pick the required number for the show.

 

Q: Wow! So when did you guys realize that comedy was something that you wanted to do as a profession?

 

Jordan: So for me, it was college. I actually left Sarah Lawrence College 2 years into it to move to Chicago and just dedicate everything to sketch and improv comedy with the hopes of being on a show.

 

Keegan: Yeah, for me I was in graduate school studying Shakespeare and everything. But I did a play, in graduate school and discovered a way the audience was reacting to the play, you know I felt like I had an ability, to this, to drama. And so I kept on trying to get roles in comedic plays. I went to the one in Chicago -oh sorry it was Detroit- I went to the one in Chicago subsequently. But I started realizing that oh this is something that is fulfilling me artistically and I guess plays are there, they’ll be there, the concept of dramas will be there it’s not going anywhere so I can just do that later and so this is the path I’ve been on for the last 18 years.

 

Q: So what has the road been like to get your own show and to be able to host it?

 

Jordan: MadTV gave us a lot of the skills that we used to do the show obviously, but we both have been pretty fortunate, pretty lucky. And as far as getting an actual show, there was a moment there when both of us didn’t have a job, and Comedy Central was interest in both of us individually and so we decided to make it a force multiplier and utilize each other as force multipliers and band together. I don’t know Keegan, I feel like we had a pretty good, pretty smooth road.

 

Keegan: Yeah, I would say thus far professionally it’s been pretty smooth. I thank God every day that I’ve lived a pretty charmed life professionally. When I was younger and doing theatre stuff, a lot more struggle when I was younger, you know staying up 15 hours a day, counting change to get a cup of coffee. That happened, but since I’ve been in Los Angeles its been really good to me. Its been lovely that certain opportunities have been afforded to us and some doors have at least been cracked open.

 

Jordan: Yeah, I mean part of what it is too is the mindset that I think Keegan and I share which is we view the adversity and the challenges as gifts, as opportunities to fix things, to learn, to focus our energy on improvement. So we don’t view the hurdles and the challenges as anything but challenges and other people aren’t even fortunate enough to be able to go through.

 

Keegan: I mean if we didn’t have jobs, that free time would be free time to learn. It’s time that has been afforded you to actually learn before you get into your next job. I think that everybody should be thinking in their minds, I got to prepare for that job I’m going to get. That job could be a month down the line, or a year down the line but you should always be preparing for that job whenever you can.

 

Q: That’s great! So looking back on the entire Key and Peele series, what have been a few highlights? Do you guys have any favorite sketches? I mean I’ll chime in here and say my favorite is probably the Fraternity Branding one but go ahead and share.

 

Keegan: That’s fun, we love that sketch!

 

Jordan: We love you know pulling the rug out, bravado you know, that’s one of our signature moves as I’m sure you’ve noticed. You know, we love the Liam Neeson sketch, certain sketches we love is just when we get a set, we get a director saying alright guys, do your thing. Then Keegan and I get to do what we basically get to do on a stage. Those are the sketches where all these improvisational  moments will come out, we’ll find them on the day. Those are real highlights for us.

 

Keegan: If you wanted to get real specific about it, the valet, Karim and Jahar the 2 Arabic guys, the guys in that first season sketch in the sketch we did called “I said Bitch”, those guys. Anytime we’re actually behaving like a traditional comedy team, those are our favorite scenes. And actually that branding scene is one of those first ones, where we stuck pretty close to the script on that one because of all the special effects with the birds and the brand in that one but there was an energy. I know subsequently we looked at that sketch and said “Remember that scene from Branding? We need more scenes with that energy in the show”.  This season or in the future as we go forward, more of that energy, we’re a duo. You know we have a term for it, we call it Peas in a Pod. We need a Peas in a Pod scene in this episode, or we need 2 Peas in a Pod scenes in this episode. Oh wait, these 2 Peas in a Pod scenes are too close to each other, so it’s a real staple of what we do.

 

Q: So I used to be a huge MadTV fan, I was really sad the show got discontinued. I was just wondering, what were your guys’ favorite characters to play on that show?

 

Keegan: Oh, well I bet you can guess mine.

 

Q: Coach Hines?

 

Keegan: Yep, there you go!

 

Jordan: And I loved playing Montel, Montel Williams, only twice but for some reason that was just the one.

 

Keegan: That stuff was hilarious!

-Jasmine Yang