The Funniest Two Guys No One I Know Seems To Know About: Key & Peele

Since I’m usually one of the least culturally-hip people I know (unless that hipness comprises the years when I was a) a high school student myself or b) teaching high school students), this fact surprises me: very few people I know seem to have heard about Key & Peele. 

The reason is probably lack of cable TV, or, on my island, lack of TV at all. But even across the country, with friends who share our irreverent sense of humor and social-justice politics, The Mate and I have been surprised at this response among our friends:

Us: Have you seen the Key & Peele sketch with Luther, Obama’s Anger Translator? Oh, and how ’bout the one about the Black substitute teacher who can’t pronounce the White kids’ names?

Friend: Key and who?

Us: Peele! Key and Peele! That’s Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele. They’re a comedy duo on Comedy Central.

Friend: Never heard of ’em.

Us: Oh. Well, they’re funny. They’re both mixed-race guys, so they can safely take on the race issue from both sides. And pretty much everything else.

You get the idea. Since the White House Correspondents Dinner last month, when Obama invited Keegan Key (“Luther”) to join him at the lectern, perhaps Key & Peele are finally more mainstream now. But just in case…watch this:

I know, right? To get the full flavor, you should really watch Jordan Peele’s Obama, with Key as Luther. But their language is a little too strong for this blog, so I’ll let you go there on your own.

And while you’re at it…check out the one about the substitute teacher!

And…you’re welcome.

Got a favorite K & P sketch you want to share? Or another comedy sketch you think I should know about? Go ahead–make me laugh.


John Oliver, Edward Snowden, and Us: Why Does a Brit Seem to Care More About American Freedoms Than We Americans Do?

Quick: Turn to someone near you and tell them who Edward Snowden is and why he matters to Americans.

If you’re like the folks Comedy Central’s John Oliver interviewed on the streets of Manhattan, you will either a) draw a blank or b) confuse Snowden with Julian Assange, the “Wikileaks Guy.”

Hopefully you’re not like those folks. But if you suspect you might be, watch this breathtaking interview conducted in Moscow with what Oliver calls “America’s most famous patriot and/or traitor.” When I say breathtaking, I mean that literally: breathtakingly bold, breathtakingly honest. Oliver asks Snowden the questions most of us would want to ask.

But in so doing, he also turns the camera on us, in effect asking Americans, “Why don’t you care more about the real effects of the Patriot Act? Why don’t you care more that your government has been proven to have the capacity to spy on you?”

A quick warning, before you watch this episode from Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight”: if you’re offended by casual profanity and excessive references to male body parts–don’t. This ain’t the New York Times, remember–it’s Comedy Central.

But in my opinion, it still deserves a Peabody Award.

So, you watched? Is John Oliver brilliant or what? Tell me what you think.

John Oliver for Jon Stewart!

The King of Political Satire is retiring (from The Daily Show). Long live the King–whoever that will be. I think the choice is obvious: John Oliver. Too bad I don’t get to vote. But I do get to exercise my mad influential skills.

When Jon Stewart took those weeks off in the summer of 2013 to make his movie “Rosewater,” we all thought, “Uh-oh.” But when John Oliver stepped in, with his perky dimples, his adorable English accent and most of all, his enthusiasm? I think most of went, “Hmmm.”

I don’t get HBO, so I’d never watched John Oliver’s show Last Week Tonight, though I was pleased to hear he had it. When I got the opportunity to see a few episodes, though, I was more than pleased–I was blown away. With his once-a-week format (Sunday nights), John Oliver gets full creative freedom to focus on ONE TOPIC for the bulk of his half-hour (Guthrie, Marisa (16 April 2014). “John Oliver on the Luxurious ‘Freedom’ of HBO, His Complicated Relationship With NYC”. The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved by Wikipedia 19 April 2014).

And what does he do with that creative freedom? Watch this:

Published on Sep 21, 2014

The Miss America Pageant…how is this still a thing?
They claim to give more scholarships to women than any other organization, and, unfortunately, they’re right.
To illustrate these problems, John Oliver stages his own pageant with the help of Kathy Griffin.

This isn’t just funny–it’s excellent investigative reporting! AND it’s funny. I’ll bet Jon Stewart would kill to’ve been able to run his show like that.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart got my family and me through the darkest years of the Iraq War. When our boys were in Middle School,The Mate and I used to turn that annoying intro music up loud and call, “Time for Social Studies!” They’d come running. The Mate also understood that Jon Stewart was the only man I was allowed to leave him for–at least if Jon gave up smoking.

But Jon’s been looking tired lately. Where we once religiously kept up with his show, watching each one recorded from the night before, lately we’ve skipped some nights. Fewer of the segments have that hard, earnest humor that kept us riveted all those years. Whenever he speaks of human rights or lambasts the news media, that passion flares to life, but that doesn’t seem to happen with such regularity anymore. And those celebrity interviews? Unless it’s someone on the other side of the political divide with whom Jon can productively spar, we skip ’em.

Now, if I were John Oliver, I’m not sure I’d want to make the switch. Sure, you’d be trading the handful of viewers who get “Last Week Tonight” via HBO or whatever it is for the giant audience commanded by Comedy Central. But you’d also have to trade your format of deeply-researched, passionately-delivered, once-a-week specials for the Daily Grind of the Daily Show. No wonder they’ve kept that lame interview segment all these years–it’s the equivalent of a nap for a guy like Jon Stewart.

Now, Jon–meet me at Camera Three, would you? Hey, sweetie. No, I haven’t seen your movie yet, but I’m going to. Meanwhile–mazel tov. Take a break, man–you’ve earned it. THANK YOU for being a voice of sanity all those years, and for helping us to raise our children.

And, if you have any influence–which I’m pretty sure you have–can you get John Oliver behind that desk of yours again, and keep him there? And while you’re at it–get ’em to lose the celebrity interviews, ok?

What do you guys think? Who’s with me on this? (If you’re not a Daily Show fan, just watch that Last Week Tonight video, and you’ll become a John Oliver fan, I promise.)