The 7 Most Socially Relevant 'Key And Peele' Sketches

September 9th 2015

Laura Donovan

It's the end of a long, hilarious era for Comedy Central's "Key and Peele." The series finale for the sketch comedy show airs on Wednesday evening.

For three years and five seasons, hosts Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have used their comedic platform to spread awareness of social issues such as racial prejudice, sexism, homophobia, and injustice at large. Fans (like myself) have loved every moment of it.

In 2013, "Key and Peele" won the socially conscious Peabody Award, which honors "instances of how electronic media can teach, expand our horizons, defend the public interest, or encourage empathy with others." The series was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award last year, and Key received a nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series.



What's your favorite Key & Peele sketch?!?!

Posted by Key & Peele on Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Though the show touched on many issues over the years, "Key and Peele" was well-known for producing powerful skits about race relations in America, and the comedians had a lot to work with having experienced racism firsthand. In the mid-2000s, Key and Peele auditioned against each other for a role on MADtv, because the network only sought one Black cast member for the show. The two had such good chemistry, however, that they were both ultimately cast on the series.

"I think that what happened is that they saw that we worked really hard and that we wouldn’t stop working until something is perfect," Key told Onward State in 2012. "They saw that we worked really well together because we both try really hard not to stop until something is right, and throw it out if it isn’t there. I think the executive producers at MAD TV saw that and wanted to keep us both around."

"At one point, there were four African American people on the cast, and the writing on the wall was that they only wanted two, so me and Jordan were lucky to have made a good impression on the executive producers during casting," Key continued.

A few years after leaving MADtv, the two created "Key and Peele." Here are some of the most socially relevant skits from the program:

1. "Negrotown"

During the spring, "Key and Peele" released a skit called "Negrotown" that satirizes police treatment of Black people. As ATTN: noted in May, the sketch felt especially relevant at the time of its release because 25-year-old Baltimore resident Freddie Gray had recently died in police custody.

"Negrotown" opens with a white cop trying to arrest Key’s character, a Black male, for no reason at all. Then another Black man named Wally, portrayed by Peele, takes him to "Negrotown," the "place to be if your skin is brown," to escape the unfair treatment of Black people in America.

When Wally and Key's character travel to Negrotown, Wally breaks out into song with people happily dancing around them. "Negrotown, you can walk the street without getting stomped, harassed, or beat," the town's residents sing. "There's always a cab when you need to get around. And they always stop in Negrotown ... You won't get followed when you try to shop, you can wear your hoodie and not get shot."

2. "Pirate Chantey"


"Key and Peele" season five debuted with "Pirate Chantey," a sketch that highlights female objectification in society.

In "Pirate Chantey," a bunch of male pirates chant about treating women well and the importance of consent, which continues to be a source of tension in our culture. Last week, the White House released a video called "It's On Us" to fight high sexual assault rates on college campuses.

In the skit, Peele champions the necessity of consent. "I once met a lass so fine, she was drunk on barley wine, I'd been to sea for months a-three, I knew I could make her mine," he sings. "And the lass was past consent, so it was off with her we went. We threw her in bed and rested her head and we left because that's what gentlemen do."

"A woman has a right to a drink or two without worrying what you will do," the men go on to sing together. "We say 'yo ho' but we don't say 'ho' because 'ho' is disrespectful yo."

Key and Peele "Pirate Chantey"

3. "TeachingCenter"

In "TeachingCenter," Key and Peele highlights America's sports-obsessed culture by framing teachers and education in the same overzealous way SportsCenter broadcasters discuss athletes.

The segment opens with Peele talking about a "star English teacher" who gets her own press conference to announce she's transferring schools. The skit also imagines a world in which teachers—who in reality make an average of $46,863 per year and often have to spend their own money on work supplies—earn millions of dollars as athletes do.

"Apparently P.S. 431 has made [her] an offer she couldn't refuse," Peele says. "$80 million guaranteed over six years, another $40 million in incentives based on test scores."

"TeachingCenter" also includes a high school teacher draft and the "highlight of the day," which centers on educator Ashley Ferguson for improving student test scores. We see Ferguson teaching her students, and Peele notes her instructor approach as sportscasters note athletic moves in games.

"Now, look at this," he says. "She looks left, then right, looks past the students with their arms up in the air, spots Max near the back, sees that even though his hand isn't up, he's engaged."

"See what she did there?" Key says. "She's bringing the introvert into the discussion, y'all. That's a teacher of the year play right there."

4. "Menstruation Orientation"

This summer, "Key and Peele" poked fun at the stigma surrounding female periods in "Menstruation Orientation." In the skit, Key and Peele portray speakers at FAS (For All Species), a play on the TED Talk series, and explain to a crowd of men why they need to be mature about menstrual cycles. (This came a few weeks before Donald Trump perpetuated the taboo surrounding menstruation by saying Fox News host Megyn Kelly had "blood coming out of her... wherever," when she challenged his historic treatment of women at the first presidential debate.)

"What if we told y'all that once a month, half the human race is in pain and the other half don't want to hear shit about it?" Key says before he and Peele gesture toward their genitals and welcome the audience to menstruation orientation.

When a male attendee attempts to walk out of the FAS event, feminist heroes Key and Peele shame him in front of everybody.

"We know you don't want to hear about it, but [women] don't want to have it, so sit your ass down and listen for once in your life," they shout. "It is much worse for them than it is for you to hear about it, so listen to what's going on with your female emotionally and get your bitch some chocolate! Don't call her a bitch, but get your bitch some chocolate!"

5. "Gay Wedding Advice"

In fall 2014, Key and Peele produced a skit called "Gay Wedding Advice" that highlights the stupidity of people who think gay weddings are drastically different than straight weddings.

In the skit, Peele asks Key what to expect from a family member's upcoming same-sex wedding, and Key explains that it is no different than a straight wedding.

"A gay wedding is just like a straight wedding," Key says. "It's exactly the same."

When asked if there are "straight" and "gay" seating sections at gay weddings, Key says, "You would just sit on the side of the person you're friends with ... just like in a straight ceremony."

Key also clarifies that you don't sing "Over the Rainbow," "It's Raining Men," or "Macho Macho Man" during a gay marriage ceremony. When one of the characters refuses to buy a "gay present" for the newlyweds, Key says there's no such thing.

"I don't know what a gay present is," he says. "Usually what couples do is they just register at a store like a straight couple would."

6. "Auction Block"

In the darkly funny "Auction Block," Key and Peele play slaves at a slave auction in 1848 Savannah, Georgia. The segment opens with them seeming angry about the process, but as the auction goes on and they are passed over for other men, Key and Peele demonstrate insecurities about being rejected. They even start to openly criticize the slaves who are chosen and argue that they should be picked instead.

"Enough," the white auctioneer says. "I will not have my reputation tainted selling superficial, bigoted slaves."

"Superficial," Key says. "Did that really just come out of your mouth?"

The auctioneer abruptly ends the event, and Key and Peele go into elevator pitches on why they would make great slaves and deserve to be sold off.

"I am agreeable to a fault," Key says. "You should have seen the dude who asked me to get on the boat when we came over here."

7. "School Bully"

It's well-known that bullying is extremely damaging to victims, but in "School Bully," Key and Peele expose the overlooked reality that bullies are often deeply unhappy and make fun of others to feel better about their own broken lives.

In the skit, Peele picks on Key, who has his nose buried in a book at recess. When Key asks why Peele has to be so cruel, Peele delivers a sad speech about his academic shortcomings and repressed homosexuality.

"Why you gotta bother me, man?" Key asks.

"Because I'm not doing very well in school," Peele says. "I'm reading at a third grade level. I really don't want to get left back, so when I see somebody reading for fun, it makes me feel that much more stupid, and then I get mad."

"I didn't know that, thanks so much for opening up to me," Key says.

"Shut up, queer," Peele responds.

"Why you gotta go there?"

"I've been having sexual fantasies about some of the other guys at school," Peele whispers. "I'm afraid of these feelings and what they might mean. It's like because I hate myself so much, I gotta point that hate outward at you ... Now I'm going to punish you physically for acknowledging my emotional problems."

Towards the end of the skit, Peele's alcoholic dad shows up to school and delivers a horrifying speech himself, revealing he plans on beating his son out of frustration over being left by his wife.

"I'm going to internalize that and unknowingly transfer it onto you tomorrow," Peele tells Key.