- Comedy Central
By Karen Hua, Daily TV/New Media Editor
Published February 1, 2015
While most of the nation prepared for this last weekend’s Super Bowl, in Hollywood, Keegan-Michael Key (“The Lego Movie”) and Jordan Peele (“Bob’s Burgers”) prepared for their parody version of the big game.
“Key & Peele Super Bowl Special”
Friday, January 30 at 10 p.m.
It’s widely known that the arts and sports worlds don’t mix well, but comedy pair Key and Peele, on their eponymous Comedy Central show, combined water with oil and had us in tears of laughter with their football-film intersectional special.
The duo brilliantly weaved an hour of sketches into a satirical pre-game show, featuring ex-players Bertram Skilling (Key) and Dante Pibb (Peele) on the fictional CCB sports network. Mocking the intense gusto of typical sports reporters, they made increasingly bizarre connections between the Patriots and Seahawks – finally ending in a comparison of the players to mac and cheese. Even though their content was hilarious, it was their performances themselves that carried these segments. They mocked the obsessive, jock-ish nature of sportscasters perfectly, and it was their comedic timing that made them so delightfully awkward.
Following, Key and Peele impersonated Seattle Seahawks players Richard Sherman (Key) and Marshawn Lynch (Peele) at a joint press conference, where they fully capitalized on the eccentric natures of each persona. Instead of the hyper-stringent (and often banal) conversations in typical press conferences, they instead addressed the issues with this year’s Oscar nominations (a subject Key and Peele’s artsy audience would appreciate much more). In their version, Sherman passionately ranted about the arbitrary additions and snubs for the best director nominees – most prominently Ava DuVernay’s for “Selma.” Meanwhile, they emphasized Lynch’s usual stoic, unresponsive nature when he contributed the sole line: “biscuits and gravy.”
In their “East/West Bowl” sketch, Key and Peele displayed the wonders of costume and make-up, as well as the versatility of their looks and their acting abilities. In their lineup of player introductions, they announced themselves with the most ludicrous names, such as “Crème de la Crème” and “Grunky Peep,” with the most farcical accents and even more outlandish facial hair. Even more hilariously so, they cut between real NFL player introductions – real names such as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from the Packers, Cornelius “Tank” Carradine from the 49ers and the Giants’ Prince Amukamara – and Key and Peele's impressions. Their serious natures were a perfect juxtaposition to Key and Peele’s frivolous impersonations.
Amid these segments of light-hearted humor, they also incorporated subtle social commentary. In one of Pibb and Skilling’s sections, they alluded to the NFL and athletic industry’s racist implications. Timothy Omundson (“Galavant”) made a guest appearance, and as a white male, he lauded white players’ intellectual approach to the game versus African-Americans’ physical method. As he puts, the NFL is composed of black players possessed of “magical powers he learned from his grandma.”
As the hour went on, the sketches became more and more bizarre. In their final piece, they used animation to create a robot named Enos – a darkly humorous sketch where a robot Super Bowl team led by Allison Janney (“Masters of Sex”) enslaves the whole world.
Usually, sports satire exploits the excessively-enthused nature of sports fans. As comedians – writers and artists whose natures are quite contrary to those of football fans – it is easy to resort to the stock jokes about “balls” and hyper-masculinity. However, Key and Peele’s characterizations are precise – a specificity that makes their nuanced humor that much more entertaining. Their comedic lens offers sports and comedy fans alike a ground of commonality during this Super Bowl season.