Stagecraft Podcast: Why Keegan-Michael Key Craves the Green Lights

Keegan-Michael Key
George Chinsee

“I don’t think there are a lot of performances on Broadway right now that are this fluid.”

That’s Keegan-Michael Key talking about “Meteor Shower,” the Broadway comedy he’s currently starring in alongside Amy Schumer, on the latest episode of Stagecraft, Variety‘s theater podcast. Why is the Steve Martin comedy so unpredictable? It all has to do with sketch comedy — in which Key, of course, has an extensive background (after five seasons of “Key and Peele” and, before that, six years on “MadTV”), and so does Schumer.

“What you bring is a kind of welcome, devil-may-care attitude and a freedom and an irreverence,” he says of sketch comics doing traditional theater. “You start to crave moments that we call in the sketch world ‘green lights.’ So you’re saying the lines, you’re honoring all the punctuation that the playwright painstakingly picked, but you’re going to do it in as free and spontaneous a way as you can, because you’ve had that fix of sketch for years.”

He adds of all of his co-stars,  “I will say this, full disclosure: We are trying to trip each other up, and I welcome it. Because it keeps it fresh.”

Key’s stint in “Meteor Shower,” which ends its limited run Jan. 21, came right after his run in the smash Off Broadway staging of “Hamlet” that starred Oscar Isaac. He talks about that show on the podcast, too, plus his classical theater training, his upcoming gigs in films “The Predator” and “The Lion King,” and why he’s ready to be the next Jason Bourne or James Bond.

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