From the moment Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele descended from the comedy gods and blessed us with Key & Peele in 2012, our pop culture lives have never been the same. Ask any fan of the Comedy Central sketch television show to name their all-time favorite sketch, and you’d likely hear most people rattle off the supremely popular “Substitute Teacher.”
When Shadow and Act sat down to chat with Key, we had to ask him the ultimate question. Did he have a favorite “baby,” within the five seasons? What was his favorite Key & Peele sketch to perform?
“One of my favorites, which a lot of people don’t [know] — I mean unless you’re kind of a deep cut fan — one of the sketches that I really enjoy is called ‘Michael Jackson’s Halloween,’ and it’s a really simple sketch… it was my favorite one to perform,” Key confirmed.
In the sketch, Key portrays a Michael Jackson impersonator who takes his costume way too far at a Halloween party. As Peele (the party host) helplessly attempts to get him to stop, Key performs a seemingly never-ending display of Jackson “Shamone!” points and hilariously attempts the “Smooth Criminal” lean by using the doorway as a crutch.
But, that’s not all; Key had another one of his faves in his back pocket to share.
“That was the first or second season, but going all the way forward to the last season was ‘The Terries’ where we played the two crazy guys on the plane who were waiting to find a terrorist. I loved that scene. My favorite scenes were all of the scenes where Jordan and I had the opportunity to do a lot of comedy in one take.”
The sketch stars Key and Peele as two eccentric and overly eager airline passengers who formulate a plot to defeat hypothetical terrorists, which they refer to as “terries.” Other than their delusions of grandeur (we have air marshals for that), one of the funniest things about the sketch is their hair, especially Key’s elaborate fake baby hair designs. The hair designs were directly based on styles culled from real-life people-made memes that were popular on Black Twitter.
He set the scene, where the director will set up and lockdown about three cameras and tell the comedic pair to “do your thing.” “And you know, I’m a theater performer so those were naturally my favorite things. The longer the takes, the better. Especially when you can improvise, I mean, who’s going to tell us not to?!”
Key previously told us he learned the “anatomy of a joke” via the Chuck Jones unofficial school of comedy, so it makes sense he feels most comfortable playing around in the journey toward the punchline.
“I’m a classically trained actor,” he said, “but I spent more time honing my craft as an improviser even more so than I did as a Shakespearean actor or a classical actor.”