You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Key & Peele

Featuring a couple of sketch players who are biracial but far from post-racial, "Key & Peele" says more about modern marketing than about comedy.

With: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele.

Featuring a couple of sketch players who are biracial but far from post-racial, “Key & Peele” says more about modern marketing than about comedy. The premiere features one really memorable bit — President Obama and his “anger translator,” Luther — which has already gone viral, helping to promote the series, but also over-exposing its one genuinely inspired moment. The rest is a so-so collection of sketches and studio banter, loosely built around the potentially amusing notion of examining levels of black-ness. All told, it’s a respectable niche addition but won’t make anyone old enough to remember “In Living Color” apt to forget that earlier show.

Stars/creators/producers/co-writers (along with seven others) Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele — who are both half-white, half-black — hail from Second City and “MadTV,” respectively, and the zany improv influence is apparent.

So the opener features an assortment of rapid-fire segments that generally run no more than a couple of minutes, from two “white-talking” African-Americans whose patter becomes more ethnic around each other, to another duo who like to brag about telling off their wives — but only if the women are safely out of earshot.

Because the nonstop lightness of blackness would grow pretty unbearable, there are also a few non-ethnic moments, including a reality-TV spoof — dubbed “Gideon’s Kitchen” — which already feels dated. Plus, there’s a recurring gag about rapper Lil’ Wayne not being so tough in jail.

If much of it is smile-worthy, little elicits actual laughs other than the closing Obama clip, due mostly to Peele’s dead-on impersonation of the President. Even that is pretty thin in terms of satire, and one suspects in order to bring people back week after week, the producers are going to need to enlist the bogus President as what amounts to a series regular.

The good news about such a program, especially in a half-hour format, is you only need a couple of laughs to give the audience its money’s worth, provided they’re not all this widely telegraphed in advance. Like most sketch shows, though, the misses have a way of outnumbering the hits.

“Key & Peele” joins a fairly long list of Comedy Central entries in the prized half-hour before “The Daily Show,” but true keepers in that slot have proved elusive. And while this show contains rays of hope, the net effect is less a change from the channel’s history than, in comedic terms, simply a blacker shade of pale.

Key & Peele

Series; Comedy Central, Tue. Jan. 31, 10:30 p.m.

Production: Produced by Martel & Roberts Prods. Executive producers, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Ian Roberts, Jay Martel, Joel Zadak; producers, Keith Raskin, Scott Sites; director, Peter Atencio.

Crew: Camera, Charles Papert; music, Reggie Watts; casting, Jennifer DuMont. 30 MIN.

Cast: With: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele.

More TV

  • TV Review: ‘Motown 60: A Grammy

    TV Review: ‘Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration’

    If nothing else, CBS’ “Motown 60: A Grammy Celebration” special alerted America to the continued vitality of Smokey Robinson as a contemporary performer. Ten months from turning 80, the singer’s performances were focused and controlled as he weaved his sultry vocals through classics he wrote — the ballads “The Tracks of My Tears” and “Ooh Baby Baby,” chief among them. Producers [...]

  • Telemundo Has 'Game of Thrones' Hopes

    Telemundo Has 'Game of Thrones' Hopes for 'La Reina del Sur' Season 2 Premiere

    Call it Telemundo’s “Game of Thrones.” The Spanish-language network is hoping for a blockbuster premiere tonight for the long-awaited sophomore season of “La Reina del Sur,” the crime drama starring Kate del Castillo that ranks as Telemundo’s most-watched original series ever. “La Reina” was a massive hit for Telemundo when it aired in early 2011. [...]

  • Florence and the Machine

    Florence & the Machine Premiere New Song on 'Game of Thrones'

    [pmc=related] If the voice singing the song during the end credits of “Game of Thrones” tonight sounded familiar — or unmistakable — yes, it was Florence + the Machine. The group’s version of the original “Game of Thrones” song “Jenny of Oldstones” debuted during the closing credits of this season’s second episode, following a rendition [...]

  • Game of Thrones Fan Theories

    Best Fan Theories for the Final Season of 'Game of Thrones'

    After eight seasons, “Game of Thrones” fans will finally see if their long-held theories will pay off. Dozens of important characters and a complex plot have made diehard viewers try to foresee plot twists for years. With the original R+L=J theory confirmed, meaning that Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark were the real parents of Jon [...]

  • Abigail Disney on Bob Iger

    Abigail Disney Calls Bob Iger's $65 Million Compensation 'Insane'

    Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger’s total compensation for Disney’s fiscal 2018 was a whopping $65.6 million. Abigail Disney, the granddaughter of Disney co-founder Roy Disney, calls that sum “insane.”  While speaking at the Fast Company Impact Council, the filmmaker and philanthropist insisted that this level of corporate payout has a “corrosive effect on society.” Disney took [...]

  • Tryion Lannister Game of Thrones Episode

    'Game of Thrones' Season 8 Episode 2 Leaks

    The second episode of “Game of Thrones'” final season has leaked online ahead of its Sunday night debut. Fear not, “Thrones” fans: though the internet is dark and full of spoilers, this post is free of any details from Season 8 episode 2. Rumblings of a leak began on the “Game of Thrones” Reddit and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content