KEY & PEELE Comic-Con Panel Recap: Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele and Peter Atencio Debut New Sketches and Talk about Creative Process

     July 24, 2014

key and peele comic con panel recap

Key & Peele is not only one of the funniest shows on the air, but one of the best sketch comedy shows ever produced.  Naturally, I was pretty stoked to get a chance to check out the panel today at Comic-Con where stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele were on hand with co-executive producer/director Peter Atencio to debut some new characters and sketches from the upcoming fourth season, discuss their process for writing the show, reveal a little about what’s coming next season, upcoming projects, and a lot more.

Hit the jump to check out my full Key & Peele Comic-Con panel recap.  Key & Peele returns to Comedy Central September 24th at 10:30 PM.

Panel Highlights

key and peele comic con panel recapThe panel began with moderator Tom Lennon professing his love for Key & Peele, praising it as a show that takes Sketch Comedy to new heights.  Judging by the cheers from the audience it’s pretty clear the fans agree.

So what’s up for season four?  Look for the return of Luther, Meegan and Andre, and the football players.  However, the football players won’t necessarily be back for another Annual East/West College Bowl.  Expect to see some of them in new scenarios.

As for upcoming projects, the comedic duo is currently working on an as yet untitled comedy with Judd Apatow, a cartoon series with Comedy Central called Vandavean & Mike, and a film titled Keanu, which tragically seems to have nothing to do with Keanu Reeves.  Or maybe it does?  The only thing they would reveal is that Keanu is a kitten.

How difficult is the vocal work they do on the show?  Enough that Key loses his voice about once a week.  Peele called him “the Mariah Carey of sketch comedy.”

What is Atencio’s process for developing satire?  “Getting really stoned and watching a lot of movies.”

Ever wondered what’s a little too weird even for Key & Peele?  Turns out it’s a sketch called “Hole in the Face” about a homeless man (played by Peele) with a literal hole in his face who guilts a man (played by Key) into hanging out with him.  The weirdest part?  The audience never sees the hole in his face, so they just hear a lot of guttural, squishy-sounding talking.  The sketch was written for the pilot but never made it to air.

They all agreed that the show really found its footing toward the end of the first season when they got comfortable just playing around.  They developed a system where there are “Jordan-led” scenes, “Keegan-led” scenes, or “Peas in the Pod” scenes, like the valet guys, where the both share the spotlight.

key and peele comic con panel recapHow long do they want to do the show?  All they would say is “We want it to go on”.  A statement that was met with enthusiastic audience applause.

They all threw some props in the direction of their fantastic, Emmy nominated hair and makeup team including Makeup Department Head Scott Wheeler (who designed the Borg queen) and Hair Department Head Amanda Mofield.

Their first priority when writing the show is to be as funny possible, but as the show progresses they have a bigger interest in recurring characters.  They like to find new ways to use the same character, adding new information to the character by making them exist in different situations.

They are also trying to add more connective tissue between sketches.  Most sketches have at least one Easter egg that relates back to another sketch.  One example is that anytime there is a sports team their mascot is a rhino.


We were lucky enough to get a first look at two sketches from season four.  The first featured Peele as a wizened Stan Lee and Key as a head of Marvel Comic’s Headquarters.  I don’t want to spoil the bit, but the gist of the joke is that Stan Lee is old.  Honestly, it wasn’t my favorite of their work, but oh boy, the second clip was something special.  Featuring Key as a very Hard Target Van Damme-esque action hero equipped with lots of denim and a sturdy mullet, “Strike Team Delta” delivers the goods.  It’s one of my favorite sketches I’ve seen them do (though I admit a heavily skewed bias in favor anything Van Damme-esque).  If “Strike Team Delta” is any indication it looks like season four is definitely going to be on par with the top-notch hilarity we’ve come to expect from Key & Peele.

Q&A Highlights

key and peele comic con panel recapDo they ever get pushback from the network on controversial sketches?  Never.  Comedy Central received praise all around for being completely easy to work with in that regard.

How did they meet?  The duo’s origin story begins in Chicago ten years ago when they “fell in comedy love”.  They worked together on MADtv and had so much working together.  They have always just written to make each other laugh, saying that everything that works is just because they’re trying to make one another laugh.

Will there be more of the substitute teacher in season four?  There’s nothing as of now, but they’re only half way through shooting the season, so never say never.

Any guest stars they want to work with in particular?  President Obama, for one, but that’s more of a dream.  They’ve talked about getting Kevin Hart on the show, but if you haven’t noticed he’s a little busy lately.

Do they try to align their skits to current events?  It’s not something they have the luxury for often, so they try to work themes instead of topics.  For example, everyone wanted them to do a Donald Sterling sketch, but by the time they would have created it he would no longer be a hot topic.  Making a sketch about a racist billionaire?  Yes.  Making a topical sketch about Donald Sterling specifically?  No.

Talking about their fan-favorite East/West College Bowl sketch, Peele revealed that he wrote the whole damn thing in one night.  Saying that when he came up with “L’carpetron Dookmarriot” he knew the sketch would work.  They also talked about how much fun it is to put together the different looks for all the football players, saying it’s like an assembly line of wigs and makeup.

Click here for all of our our Comic-Con 2014 coverage.

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