Tag Archives: key and peele

Socially Conscious Comedy Part II: Key and Peele on Being Black in America

Seeing how I love to pretend that binge-watching comedy sketches counts as research, I decided to follow up on last week’s post about Amy Schumer with a post about Key and Peele.

I find a lot of Schumer’s work funny because I can relate to it. It’s not quite the same with Key and Peele, since I am neither black, nor male, nor American.

Although sometimes their characters aren’t male either.

Even though I have little in common with Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, I do find their work hilarious. They do a variety of flawless impressions and have a much wider range than Schumer, who generally sticks to one (albeit very funny) schtick.

Like Schumer, they also take on some very serious social issues in their comedy. Since they are both half-black, Key and Peele often touch on the way racism affects the lives of black or biracial individuals. Below, I’ve included three racial inequalities that Key and Peele do a great job revealing via their sketches.

1) Racial Profiling and Police Violence

As a Canadian, the prevalence of police violence towards black Americans blows my mind.  Don’t get me wrong, Canada certainly has our own problems when it comes to police violence. That said, our more recent incidents of violence are due to taser-overuse, rather than unnecessary use of a firearm. It’s uncomfortable to watch cases of police violence when they are discussed on American news, since the focus tends to be on whether or not the victim of police violence “deserved it.” Black victims, even twelve-year-olds with pellet guns, are framed as threatening, in order to excuse why a cop discharged their firearm.

Key and Peele often subvert this “threatening black man” trope in their sketches. In “Flash Mob” and “White Zombies” Key and Peele play non-threatening black men who are mistaken as dangerous by the white people (or white zombies) around them.

Similarly, “Solution to Racial Profiling” mocks the racial double-standard that fames black youth in hoodies as “thugs” while their white peers are described as “misunderstood”.

One of their more serious sketches, “Negrotown,” addresses police violence directly, by imagining a world where police violence and racial profiling no longer existed.

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Evan and Gordon Talk: Greatest Food Show of All Time

EVAN: Last week you suggested we talk about food, something that I am always, always down with, and-

GORDON: ME WANT FOOD. Shows.

EVAN: You said we should talk about food shows. Namely, the greatest food show of all time. Ever. In existence.

GORDON: Well, if we’re going to come up with the greatest food show in existence, we obviously have to take into account everything: from the high-class Iron Chef (and Iron Chef spin-off[s]) competition shows to the most rough and tumble [namely, Epic Meal Time].

EVAN: Ooh, dang, I hadn’t even thought of that last one. To be fair, though, thinking about it this week I came up with what I thought the basic structure of the ultimate food show would be.

GORDON: Shoot.

EVAN: I’m a man who loves his cooking shows, so my ultimate cooking show would involve, ideally, Top Chef Masters, MasterChef, and something like Surivorman.

GORDON: Survivorman?

EVAN: It’s like a Bear Grylls-esque show.

GORDON: The chefs have to hunt and skin their ingredients?

EVAN: I’m getting there-

It would have the insane challenges of Top Chef Masters, which calls for ridiculousness such as a gourmet dish made of licorice and sardines or something like that, coupled with the ability to appeal to different a wide range of different palates, a la the challenges of MasterChef, with a sprinkle of Survivorman for that added kick which, as you said, would be along the lines of hunting, skinning, etc.

GORDON: As much as I enjoy the concept of Mario Batali going mano-a-mano with a Yukon bull moose, I feel that there’s only so much you can cram into a cooking show- and it should be focused on the food itself.

EVAN: Well, let’s focus on my first two points then- some seriously difficult [and devious] challenges, as well as the added element of having to appeal to different palates.

GORDON: I can agree with that, only I would obviously like to see the show also grounded in some reality. Like dropping the chefs off in a college cafeteria somewhere and forcing them to work with what precious little is offered there, or an episode exclusively about ramen . . .

EVAN: A ramen episode would be awesome. I actually had the most amazing instant noodles this morning. It was Indonesian “mi goreng,” and it comes with sweet soy sauce, chili sauce, seasoning oil, seasoning powder, and fried onions.

GORDON: YOU HAD INDOMIE? THAT IS THE BEST RAMEN IN EXISTENCE! I WOULD KILL AN ORPHANAGE FOR A PACKET OF THAT STUFF!

EVAN: WE ONLY HAD TWO PACKS AND I ATE THE LAST ONE THIS MORNING. I NEED TO FIND MORE.

GORDON: But yeah, I think it’s important that the show not get too fancy.

EVAN: So we’ve gotta keep it pretty grounded, that makes sense. What I think would be really interesting, though, is kind of turning the whole thing over.

Because in gourmet restaurants, it’s never ever “the customer is always right.” It’s “the chef is always right.” So if we had a show where the chefs had to specifically cater to what people wanted, instead of them being all “I went to school for this I know what you want.”

GORDON: That would be cool- I recall us watching a cooking show episode where the contestants were judged by a whole bunch of kids. Vox populi; I like it

EVAN: Yep, that would be MasterChef. I loved how one guy kept saying he was a dad, and he knew what kids liked and didn’t like.

GORDON: I do think we need to cut something out.

EVAN: Yeah?

GORDON: That’s the judges screwing with the cooks:

EVAN: Really? I kind of love that.

GORDON: It doesn’t build tension- it’s just annoying.

I also feel that there should always be a judge from crazy far away. so there’s always a really different perspective.

EVAN: That’d be cool.

I know something we definitely need to remove.

GORDON: Yeah?

EVAN: Product placement.

GORDON: THANK YOU!

Yes- that crap gets chucked out. Unless. Unless it’s a genuine moment of the chef expressing that a certain thing has really helped him. I think that kind of endorsement is fair.

EVAN: Yeah, I mean, that’s valid.Like, there’s this guy, on MasterChef, who would say things like, “Let’s see what you cooked on your MasterChef TM Frying Pan.” It was painfully blatant.

GORDON: It was.

You good with three chefs?

EVAN: For a show? I don’t see why not.

GORDON: How many contestants? Two, à la Iron Chef, or elimination style, à la MasterChef?

EVAN: Wait, did you mean three judges?

GORDON: I did.

EVAN: I think two chefs, three judges.

GORDON: Are the judges all chefs, or do we include food critics and celebrities? I don’t care for the food critics too much. Too . . . exclusionary?

EVAN: I think food critics have their place. I think that celebrities can be . . . stretched. Like one time on Iron Chef: America one of the celebs was the guy who played Gunther on Friends. The guy who owned Central Perk.

GORDON: Bill Murray was on there, wasn’t he? Called Batali a princess?

EVAN: I think he was in the audience, haha. Which is hilarious.

GORDON: It was. I demand Bill Murray always be in the audience.

EVAN: You would torture the poor man.

GORDON: All in the name of the perfect cooking show, yes. But moving on . . . Secret ingredients?

EVAN: So are we going for more of an Iron Chef approach here?

GORDON: Yeah, but bear with me. I think we should include bonus points for making the food really, really big, à la Epic Meal Time. Decadence combined with technique, which is I believe how we first came up with Turduckens.

EVAN: See, I think we can have decadence and technique by having different rounds, each one hugely different from the one before it. Maybe you can create a Turbaconepic, but can you then create a tower . . . out of soup!?

GORDON: That sounds like an awesome idea.

So let’s see what we got here: two chefs face off, surprised by secret ingredients as they work in different rounds that require ingenuity on their part bordering on genius.

EVAN: Yep. Challenges that force them to keep on their toes.

GORDON: They are judged by three qualified individuals, always including one from a culture whose cuisine is extremely different from that being served. Judgement is quick and of course, accessible to the audience. The only thing we’re missing is the prize . . . I say a golden cauldron.

EVAN: How very Asterix of you.


GORDON:
 FULL OF THEIR FAVORITE FOOD!

EVAN: Haha, what?

GORDON: Think about it: You just won, you get food. What could make you happier? [That can be shown on national television.]

EVAN: I feel like chefs are pretty snobby about what they eat. Like whatever it is would have to be exactly to their liking.

GORDON: What would you fill it with then?

EVAN: I dunno, something expensive, but food related. Like truffles, or caviar. It’s so expensive it’s basically gold.

GORDON: Fair enough. But they have to eat it with their hands; that’s what the credits fade to.

EVAN: Sounds good to me.

GORDON: Theme song? Opening music?

EVAN: Oh man, uh. . . Something really epic . . .

GORDON: O Fortuna?

EVAN: Something scored by that one guy, Hans Zimmer.

GORDON: Works for me.

EVAN: So with that pretty much taken care of, what shall we turn our attention to next week? I do believe we’ve hit four TV-related E&GTs in a row.

GORDON: Let’s talk about literature.

EVAN: Alright. In what regard?

GORDON: Books that are coming out, or not coming out. I don’t rightly know. You wanna invent a new genre?

EVAN: Okay, that’s our new topic. That’s all for now, folks! Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you next week for Evan and Gordon Talk!

GORDON: Vote if you’d like, of course-