You have a very cerebral approach. On other shows, have you been the most analytic guy in the room?
Key: Never. I'm a very impulsive person.
Peele: That is probably the biggest difference between us. Not to take away any of the hard work Keegan has done to become an amazing actor, but he has something about him that's just natural. I am a very, very, very calculated person.
Key: Absolutely. In the amount of time it takes me to react to something physically, he can react mentally. It would take me a much longer period of time to consider everything he considers in a lightning-quick period of time.
Did you expect this level of success?
Peele: I did. The moment I knew we were gonna do a show together, I said to our manager, "Oh, you're gonna give me this n---- right here? [Laughter] Well then we're done, it's set."
Key: I had more concern. Did I know we would be successful? I didn't. But I have confidence in our work, and I knew it was good. Why wouldn't I want to do something with the best, most innovative sketch writer I've ever met in my life? No matter how good or bad I am, the words aren't going to fail. That's not a gamble.
How did basketball star Metta World Peace end up on the show?
Peele: That started as a sketch in season one. One of our writers, Colton Dunne – a biracial guy who is a really funny improviser – wrote a sketch called "Crazy N---- News." And it was just a segment with Keegan playing Metta, Cee Lo, Katt Williams – all impressions. This year we got word that Metta was a fan of the show. We were on a flight one day and we said, "Dude, what if we changed the name of that sketch to "Metta World News" and had him come and do it?"
What was the inspiration behind Luther, President Obama's "anger translator?"
Key: As Jordan has said on many occasions, I’m not sure we'd have a television show if Barack Obama wasn't the President. The entire nation had to say, "Oh, here's a person who has a white parent and a black parent." That opened up the door. And we remembered the guy, I always forget his name, who got up during the State of the Union speech and said "liar." Joe Smith? Joe Simpson? [Joe Wilson, who shouted "You lie!"]
Key: That hasn't happened to a President since 1830. And why is that taking place? And watching the President in that moment – watching him continue to be reserved – how is this man not releasing his frustration? Let's give him a surrogate, let's give him an id, so he can be the superego. Another trigger was Jordan remembering Garrett Morris on Saturday Night Live, where he'd do news for the hard of hearing. And that was where Luther came from. But there's not going to be a lot of him this season. It could very easily become the gimmick of the show, and we're always interested in moving to the next thing.
Key: I would love our legacy to be, if someone were watching on whatever the medium is 30 years from now with their kids, a 12-year-old or an 18-year-old, and if they were watching any sketches that had something to do with race, they'd say, "I'm sorry, Mom, why is this funny?" Like if somebody told a Freedom Rider joke today.
Peele: I feel like we are transcending the role of the African-American in popular culture, mainly with the sketches where we don't play African-Americans, and I think we pull it off. That's something we do more each year. We hope to be a universal comedy show forever, playing characters who have souls and personalities. That's the reason all the old-school legends are still funny today.
What is your future beyond the show?
Peele: I'm working on this project – the working title is Get Out the House. It's a satirical horror movie, a cross between Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and The Stepford Wives. Hopefully, we're gonna be making it by this time next year, and it will do with horror what this show has done with comedy. They are both genres that depend on moments of realization, and they depend on the marriage of absurdity with reality to pull off.
Is that something you want Keegan to be in?
Peele: I have a character in mind for him. But the greater answer to your question is yes, I plan to write and direct for Keegan a whole lot in my career.
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