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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

DVD Review: Key And Peele: Seasons 1 + 2



Key And Peele is a sketch comedy series on Comedy Central starring Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. The first two seasons have now been released in a four-disc box set, which includes bonus features as well.

The series is seriously funny. And one thing that sets it apart from other sketch comedy shows is that the segments are filmed ahead of time, so they’re like a series of short comedic films, with introductions and other silliness shot in front of an audience linking the sketches. Both men are bi-racial, and a lot of their comedy comes from that, particularly in the first season.

“Bitch”

The first episode of the first season, “Bitch,” is one of my favorites. The title skit is about two married men who are bragging to each other about calling their wives "bitch" but are terrified that the wives might hear. So they remove themselves to more and more remote spots before repeating the word. This skit gets funnier as it goes on (while never mentioning that they're afraid of their wives). During one of their live segments, they rip on the premises for reality television programming, such as, "You have a mental illness - let us rearrange your furniture for you." I absolutely love that, and it leads into a sketch making fun of those kitchen shows.  One of my favorite bits is a fake commercial for Ancestry.com, in which all black people trace themselves back to Thomas Jefferson. 


The other episodes have plenty of excellent material. In one skit in the episode “Das Negroes,” they're part of a slave auction, where everyone is getting bought except them. It’s a great take on the subject, and is seriously funny and clever. This is one of my favorite sketches from the entire season.

“Soul Food” is one of the season’s best episodes. The restaurant scene is completely hilarious, and becomes funnier the longer it goes on. I love a sketch that keeps building like that. They do that also with the puppy sketch, which is probably my favorite bit from them. It is so bloody funny, and has them in drag, saying lines like, "I'm going to buy that dog. I'm going to drive him to the vet and I'm going to have him put down immediately." And when it has reached the point of being absolutely ridiculous, they take it to another, even more deliciously absurd level.

Season One Bonus Features

Several of the first season episodes have commentary tracks by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. There are also "Outtakes" (seven minutes of bloopers and whatnot), and a feature titled, "Poolside Interview," which is sort of what you think it will be - the two of them seated by a pool, talking.

The special features also include several segments of "Obama's Anger Translator." All are amusing, but some are certainly funnier than others. I particularly like the "Makeup Job" bit, and the one titled "The Last Four Years." The last special feature is titled "Key & Peele Live at the South Beach Comedy Festival." It's actually stuff before and after their performance, not the performance itself.

“Obama College Years”

The second season starts off with one of the show’s best episodes, “Obama College Years.” This one opens with a hilarious sketch of two men with guns moving in slow motion, but one trips, dropping his gun, and is then frightened by a bird, and so on – all set to music, without dialogue. It’s really well done. Key and Peele talk about meeting the president, which leads to the episode’s central sketch, riffing on what Obama might have been like in college (“This party can be the most inspirational party this campus has ever seen”). This episode also features a skit about Mary Magdalene’s pimp, and a wonderful skit about the racist nature of civil war re-enactments. But my favorite sketch is one in which an athlete gives some really bad advice to young children. I was laughing so hard I actually had tears in my eyes. “Kids, you can turn yourself into a car and have a friend drive you onto the freeway.” And just when I thought the skit couldn’t be any better, the guys rip on the common misuse of the word “literally.” Thank you, guys, for that.

That is my favorite episode of the season, but every episode has some great material. I love the hilarious image of dogs dressed as KKK members in “Dubstep,” as well as that episode’s bit about the speaker who had to follow Martin Luther King at a rally. In “Biological Dad,” there is wonderful skit about a gay couple adopting a child. By the way, Billy Dee Williams makes an appearance as himself in one of the segments of that episode.

The only sketch they continually go back to is the one about Obama’s anger translator. Sure, it gets repetitive, but it’s often quite good. I particularly like the time when they point out Mitt Romney’s mistakes: “Iran is on the sea. Syria’s two goddamn countries this way. Bam! Which is a city in Iran.”

The stand-up segments in front of the live audience are often very funny too. In one of those segments in the “Country Music” episode, Jordan says: “I won’t get dogs because it’s basically like buying a new grandparent. You gotta feed them, you gotta take them on walks. They will look at you in the eyes while they’re pooping.” By the way, there is always a little something during the credits. The episode with the best surprise at the end is “Non-Stop Party.”

Season Two Bonus Features

The bonus material for the second season includes four more Obama’s Anger Translator sketches, one of which has a funny Star Wars reference, and one of which is an alternate skit shot just in case the horrible occurred and Obama had lost the election.

Critiquer’s Corner by Vandaveon And Mike is a silly ongoing series, in which Key and Peele critique their own show as the characters Vandaveon and Mike. They do riffs on all ten episodes, offering suggestions on how to improve the show (put in dick shots). This is nearly a half hour of material.

Key And Peele: Seasons 1 + 2 was released on March 25, 2014.

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