Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are two of the most talented and entertaining comedians since the turn of the millenium.
They both broke out when they joined Mad TV—Peele became a cast member in 2003 while Key became a cast member in 2004. After four years of frequent Mad TV collaborations, Peele eventually left and Key followed not long after.
But they kept working together, eventually launching the Key & Peele comedy sketch show on Comedy Central in 2012.
Key and Peele are both chameleons who are able to take on any role in any situation and make it believable—even in skits that veer toward the absurd and touch on volatile subjects like ethnic stereotypes, controversial events, and social taboos.
Key & Peele ran for five seasons, blowing up into one of the best comedy sketch shows of all time in the process. And while it sadly came to an end in 2015—both Key and Peele pursuing other projects—Key & Peele lives on with millions of views on YouTube.
Here are our favorite Key & Peele skits and sketches that prove just how funny, smart, and relevant the show could be when it was firing on all cylinders.
11. “Soul Food”
“Soul Food” features two white-collar workers out for lunch and ordering food at a black-owned restaurant. To prove that they’re more in touch with their culture than the other, they back-and-forth order increasingly ethnic dishes until they’re both dining on preposterous meals, still unable to let their pride go.
10. “The Telemarketer”
“The Telemarketer” does what a lot of Key & Peele skits do: take an everyday situation and reverse it. Here, instead of the everyday man hanging up on the telemarketer, it’s the telemarketer who hangs up on the man—which doesn’t sit well with him. Not only does it have a solid punchline, it also makes you reconsider how we treat telemarketers.
9. “Gideon’s Kitchen”
“Gideon’s Kitchen” is a classic parody of modern reality TV shows like Hell’s Kitchen. Chef Gideon makes a series of ambiguous yet hyperbolic statements that can be interpreted as either good or bad, making the contestant unsure where he stands.
It’s hilarious, even as it points out the manipulative nature of reality TV—and how disingenuous the chef is, given all of his exaggerated statements for a dish that was merely “Eh.”
8. “Karim and Jahar”
“Karim and Jahar” plays with a lot of tropes relating to sexuality: the checking out strangers, the sexualization of the non-sexual, the expression of repressed sexuality, and how hypersexual one can be even when one hasn’t had sex yet.
The script and acting are excellent—how ethnically ambiguous are these two?!—but the undercurrents are starkly pointed out.
7. “These Nuts”
On the surface, “These Nuts” pokes fun at the dying-but-not-yet-dead trend of people saying “deez nuts.” And while the script’s main premise—of someone who’s taking it way too far so that it doesn’t make sense anymore—is funny, the real message of this sketch is its depiction of Key trying to save his friend from a mental spiral. We all deserve someone like that in our lives.
6. “Obama Meet & Greet”
“Obama Meet & Greet” takes Peele’s exquisite ability to imitate former President Barack Obama and uses it to poke fun at “code switching”—changing one’s language and behavior depending on the situation. It shows how even a President needs to be “white” with white people and “black” with black people, without making any judgments.
5. “Party Games”
“Party Games” is a quick Key & Peele sketch about a closeted gay man who accidentally outs himself during a rapid-fire game of Celebrities. There’s no deeper meaning to this one—it’s just a hilariously written, hilariously acted skit that’s infinitely rewatchable.
4. “Meegan, Come Back”
“Meegan, Come Back” is riotous for the iconic ways in which Peele keeps saying “No!” But the whole skit points to a deeper issue that many relationships face, where one pushes the other away while really wanting them to come closer.
It’s an unhealthy way to ask for love, as the ending shows—relationships that operate this way are bound to rot and wither away.
3. “School Bully”
“School Bully” is both deep and funny, able to shed light on one of the reasons why troubled kids are the way they are while doing it in a way that’s so ridiculous and on-the-nose that it reaches peak comedy.
Peele does most of the heavy lifting in this one, but the surprise cameo by Andre Royo is a welcome one for The Wire fans.
2. “Text Message Confusion”
“Text Message Confusion” is an easy contender for Key & Peele’s best skit ever, if only because it’s so universally relatable. So much nuance gets lost in text-based communication, and it can lead to all kinds of misunderstandings that result in relationship breakdowns.
It’s hilarious to see how Key and Peele read the same messages in completely different ways, injecting their own interpretations to fill in the gaps—but it’s also a sobering reminder to not read your own meanings into what other people write.
1. “I Said Bitch”
“I Said Bitch” is my all-time favorite Key & Peele skit because it has everything. It has the social commentary as it peels back the layers on how family men boast about being the man of their relationships, when really the women are in charge, and both men know this—yet they keep up the facade as an unusual show of support for each other.
But even ignoring all of that, it’s just plain hilarious. The acting is incredible, the writing is perfect, and the overall sketch is just absurd enough to be gut-bustingly comical without overdoing it.