Thursday, January 28, 2016

Key and Peele

I'm not a big fan of "raunchy" comedy.  Gross-out humor for the sake of grossing people out just isn't my thing, and it's why I walked out of the first Scary Movie film feeling like I should ask for money back.  Unfortunately I saw it for free, so I was just out the time it took to view it, but the feeling stood.

Comedy is hard.  If your humor is too broad, you risk having no real lasting impact with your message.  If you're too afraid of ruffling feathers, your humor isn't memorable (outside of a few exceptions).  If you're too far over the line, you get hit with a backlash and are accused of either being hateful, ignorant, or just crass.

There are few comedians I feel walk that line perfectly, and two of them are Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, easily two of the comedians in my top five "of all time as of this writing" list.

I have not laughed as hard in a long time as I've laughed while watching their sketch comedy show on Comedy Central.  Granted, the series is over, but the final season just aired last year, so I'm not that far behind.

I'll get this out of the way first: I'm almost positive that I share a lot of the same political views as both comedians.  Watching their humor, it seems that the "far right" gets more jokes pointed at them than the left does, though I can easily think of a few where major figures on both sides of the political line get lampooned.  But even when the joke is pointed at a political party, someone famous, or someone you might see on the street, the joke itself tends to be broader.  Instead of being "let's laugh at X" it's "let's laugh at how people can hold grudges, or attempt to one-up each other, or how easy it is to misread a situation."  Not every joke is laid out like this, but there are enough that I think most people could enjoy their humor.

In an interview on Meet The Actors (is that the name of the show? I honestly don't know) the two comedians explain how they feel that a joke needs to be solid enough on its own before they attempt to pile anything controversial onto it.  It's an aesthetic that I think a lot of comedians don't think a lot about, instead going for something shocking or controversial and then attempting to use it to tell their own, weaker humor.

I'm looking at you, Jeff Dunham.

There's also a visual aspect to their show that's, in my opinion, amazing.  So many sketch comedy shows for for stripped down visuals or look like they were recorded on cheap sets or with cameras that are ten, fifteen years old.  Key and Peele's show is sharp, has amazing special effects when required, and are built in such a way that I wonder how many times they used a set and how many times they just went out, found someone's house, and just filmed there.

With some of the sharpest writing I've seen on television humor in a long time, a clear love of what they're doing and a strong desire to not just make us, the audience laugh, but also each other (how do you know a comedian is funny? Other comedians find them funny), I would hazard a guess that for five seasons Key and Peele were easily the hardest working comics in show business.

From the quality of their program, their hard work paid off.

On a related note, I'm so, so, so looking forward to their upcoming movie Keanu.

1 comment:

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