Watch: Jordan Peele Recreates James Brown’s Infamous Drunk TV Interview

     June 30, 2016


It’s been about a year now and it’s still hard to come to terms with the fact that Key & Peele is over. The show’s creative duo of Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele have been keeping very busy since the show ended, whether in television or films, but nothing has quite hit the imaginative and outlandish heights of the Comedy Central sketch series. Keanu, their first movie as core comedy duo, like Up in Smoke, just felt like a series of like-minded sketches molded together to make a very loose narrative.

james-brown-interviewThankfully, their newfound popularity allows them to do some things that are perhaps even too strange for the wilder moments of Key & Peele. Case in point: this morning, Peele released a video reenactment of the infamous drunk interview with James Brown on Sonya: Live in L.A. It was 1988, and Brown had recently been arrested and found himself in a spot of legal trouble over accusations of spousal abuse and other, er, troubling behavior. One could piece together some kind of slashed, non-sequitor-filled comment on all of this during the Sonya interview, but you’d have to watch it well over 50 times. For the most part, Brown just yells, sings snippets of songs, and offers pronouncements of his innocence…in so many words. And Peele clearly loves playing the character of Brown at this stage, trying to capture his potent energy and the…let’s call it “spaciness” of the soul-music legend at the time of the interview. He makes every physical tic, every odd delivery, feel like a flicker of comic invention.

You can watch the video below, and should make a point of looking at Mr. Dynamite, Alex Gibney‘s excellent documentary on Brown’s history as a performer and his ultimate embrace of conservative politics towards the end of his life. It’s a great movie, but in a contest against something so immediately hilarious and engaging as Peele’s video, the comedy wins, per usual.

Here’s the Peele recreation, in all its glory:

Here’s the original interview via CNN. Brace yourself: