Best Key & Peele Sketches That Foreshadowed Jordan Peele’s Horror Career
The line between comedy and horror is often much thinner than you might think. No filmmaker has embodied this idea in recent years than Jordan Pelewho started out in sketch comedy but became one of modern horror’s defining directors, first with the genre shift get out then with its equally stimulating sequel, We. with his last Nope coming out this week, it’s safe to say that Peele has established himself pretty firmly as a horror director who knows the tropes of the genre well, but is able to subvert them with his brand of social satire that doesn’t skimp either more on truly terrifying moments.
While it now seems like Jordan Peele’s ascendancy as a horror movie maker now makes perfect sense, it wasn’t always that way. When Peele made his transition to directing in 2017, he was still best known as one half of the TV sketch comedy duo. Key and Peelewho had a somewhat low-key transition to the big screen in 2016 Keanu while teaming up with their frequent Key and Peele director Peter Atencio. However, working alongside Antecio, Key and PeelePeele’s sketches offer a window into the duo’s – and particularly Peele’s – horror obsessions, because despite the absurdity and wackiness of their comedy, they’re not as detached from Peele’s work as a director as you might assume. Peele’s partner Key Keegan-Michael even saw the seeds of Peele’s horror career sown while working on their show, saying in an Indiewire piece from 2017“I watched him solve problems on set and I knew he was going to be a director.”
So let’s take a look at some horror-soaked sketches of Key and Peele where you can begin to see the ideas and patterns that would be developed in Jordan Peele’s films.
Baby Forest (Season 1, Episode 8)
Although Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele were far from the first comedy team to do movie parodies or skits entirely without laughter, their influence in making modern sketch comedy more cinematic is undeniable. While the setup in this Season 1 sketch is pretty simple (a seasoned babysitter meets a particularly creepy toddler), it alludes to Key and Peelethe ability to play with horror movie tropes in the realm of sketch comedy. It also unabashedly uses the possibilities of filmed sketch comedy versus live sketch comedy in its use of an incredibly odd Jordan Peele head digitally placed on a child’s body. The scary kid from the horror movie is a trope Key and Peele would skewer again in the Make-A-Wish Sketchbut this one seems essential (no pun intended) to establishing the duo’s mark of often unsettling dark humor combined with pop culture irreverence, with Peele making a bewildered but welcome nonetheless Whitaker Forest impression.
White Zombies (Season 2, Episode 6)
As children of biracial parents, Key and Peele were uniquely adept at identifying the racial dynamics of Obama-era America, and “White Zombies” is one of many examples. While there isn’t a ton to this sketch, with its basic idea of what would happen if there was a zombie invasion in which all of the zombies happened to be racist, it does show that Key and Peele might be just as good at reacting to a high-concept premise as they are at refined character work. Also, it alludes to Jordan Peele’s future career as a satirical horror director and the fact that there was a ton of untapped potential in terms of horror movies as allegories of racism that existed when he burst onto the scene with get out.
Sexy Vampires (Season 3, Episode 7)
By season 3 of Key and Peele, it seemed like the show’s creative team had so many ideas for horror-themed sketches that they decided to make an entire Halloween episode made up entirely of those sketches. Since the series was starting to take off as pretty much the best sketch show of the mid-2010s, a few more sketches from this episode are included below.
A few years before What we did in the shadows (both the movie and the TV show) went to town to usurp the more mundane logistics of vampiric life, “Sexy Vampires” did the same, albeit in a much smaller form. Peele plays the leader of a clan of vampires who seem to value wearing leather pants with lace-up sides and licking each other sexually more than feasting on blood. Key plays the clan’s new recruit, modestly dressed, and points out the ridiculousness of the vampire lifestyle. It’s a great showcase for the duo’s versatility, as Key tended to play the livelier half of the pair (exemplified by his first breakout character Luther, the translator of Obama’s wrath), but he had always the ability to play a very funny straight line. man.
Psycho Clown (Season 3, Episode 7)
At the time this skit aired, the “torture porn” subgenre of horror films pioneered by the Seen franchise had more or less run its course. Still, it’s not a genre that’s been parodied as much as other horror subgenres, perhaps because its inherent gloom makes it a bit too hard to get a laugh. It makes perfect sense, then, that Key and Peele found a way to spoof torture porn by simultaneously capturing the dark visuals of the genre while placing two characters in a torture chamber capable of maintaining a surprisingly positive attitude. and optimistic. It’s one of those Key and Peele sketches where the duo excel at bouncing amusing one-liners on each other, the most notable being “What a dramatic and fascinating man”, while talking about their clown-faced captor.
Continental Breakfast (Season 3, Episode 7)
While it may not be the most horrific skit included in this Halloween episode, it still ends with a well-placed nod to the brilliantwho, with another earlier Bright– themed sketches shows that Key and Peele are at least a little fascinated by Stanley Kubrickis a frozen masterpiece. But other than that, “Continental Breakfast” deserves mention simply because it’s one of the best ever. Key and Peele sketch (and perhaps my favorite). As for Jordan Peele’s work as a sketch performer, it’s an incredible showcase of his tremendous talents on camera, though he would eventually find even greater success behind it. It displays such a ridiculous array of emotions while devouring the kind of mediocre free breakfast we’ve all endured when staying at a mid-range hotel. Then that Kubrick ending makes it a perfect example of a Key and Peele sketch that is rooted in the everyday mundane but also has a tinge of sinister that hints at Peele’s future directorial style.
Alien Imposters (Season 4, Episode 1)
Much like “White Zombies,” “Alien Imposters” has a similar vibe of showing the ways people’s racism (or desire not to be seen as racist) might still exist in the post-apocalypse. Also, just like this previous sketch, it has slight tints of get outmix of social satire and taking over people’s bodies. Plus, it’s another great example of the show’s ability to mimic the visuals of Hollywood blockbusters while being sharper than most Hollywood blockbusters. We’ll see if the sketch’s sci-fi/horror combination bears any similarity to Nope.
Hall of Mirrors (Season 4, Episode 6)
Speaking of Jordan Peele movies that aren’t get outthis “Hall of Mirrors” sketch can’t help but remind use of a funhouse mirror hall in 2019 We. It shows how Peele’s background in obsessing and parodying genre tropes informed his ability as a director to create some truly chilling moments on screen when leaning in to play his totally straight comedic tendencies. The sketch is taken from Season 4’s Halloween episode and plays on the fact that many serial killer thrillers tend to end up in a carnival house of mirrors for some reason, where our protagonist policeman must determine what is a mirror reflection of the villain. and what is not. It’s another great use of Peele’s ability to throw himself into an unsettling (but still oddly funny) character.
Non-Scary Movie (Season 4, Episode 6)
Another sketch from Season 4’s Halloween episode, “Non-Scary Movie,” imagines the all-too-appropriate premise of stepping out of a horror movie with your friend and then tearing up the movie so as not to be terribly scary. Although through solid physical comedy, the two guys Key and Peele play reveal that the film clearly left some sort of mark on them that made them nervous about the outside world. Although it may not be the brightest Key and Peele sketch of all time, it nevertheless seems oddly autobiographical in terms of how Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele must have obsessed with horror movies while designing the show and incorporating all the cliches they had. seen in these movies in their sketch comedy. While they’re clearly playing more over the top characters than themselves here, it shows that the dudes loved talking horror and their sly knowledge of what is and isn’t scary makes it not surprising that any of them are going to help shape the genre.