Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” is already a huge hit, one that shouldn’t come as a surprise to people have really been paying attention to Peele’s previous work.
“Get Out” is a deeply cerebral social horror film, the creation of a true horror auteur. Prior to his movie success, Peele was best known as a comedy actor and writer. His claim to fame was the Comedy Central sketch show “Key & Peele,” which he starred on with comedy parter Keegan Michael-Key for five seasons, ending in 2015.
Though skits like “Substitute Teacher,” “East/West College Bowl” and “Obama’s Anger Translator” got the duo some of the most attention, over the entire arc of the series, they displayed the kind of sharp racial commentary and weird, dark humor that made “Get Out” such a success.
In fact, looking back at some of the show’s sketches, it’s not hard to see how a movie like “Get Out” could have blossomed in Peele’s mind. Below are nine “Key & Peele” skits with brilliant, dark takes on race that prove Jordan Peele had “Get Out” in him all along:
“Key & Peele” was always good at exposing our own racial biases by playing with expectations, and they do so brilliantly here. This sketch flips the script on the “loud black movie-goer” stereotype, as two characters played by Key and Peele disrupt a horror movie. But instead of loudly complaining about the plot, they’re complaining about things like the “lack of mise-en-scene” and “inconsistent visual language.”
In this sketch, Key and Peele play two men who overhear a pair of white women in a bar talking about sleeping with black men. The humor comes from the men being torn between taking their shot or backing off, as the women drunkenly talk about black men as if they are exotic animals. “They treat their women with a little more compassion and stuff… because they’re dads were never around!”
A room full of nearly identical black male Republicans who are “pissed” about Obama captures the Stepford Wives-like vibe of “Get Out,” but just wait till the end for a hilarious — and perceptive — punchline.
Nazi jokes are very tricky — the key, of course, is to make the Nazi the butt of the joke, not the people they persecuted. In this clip, Key and Peele make some insightful digs at the absurd logic of eugenics and white supremacy as they play two black men who trick an inept Nazi officer (played by Ty Burrell) into thinking they’re white Germans — merely by wearing white face.
What happens when there are two black guys in a mostly-white a capella group? An epic showdown that turns surprisingly dark: “Do you have any idea how long it took for me to infiltrate this group, n***a?” The sketch highlights themes that also find a home in “Get Out,” including the anxieties of being the “token black” in an all white setting.
As Key and Peele attempt to survive a zombie apocalypse in a predominantly white suburb, they slowly realize there’s a reason why they haven’t been bitten yet. Zombies as an allegory for racial discrimination. Brilliant.
“Negrotown” is one of the sharpest bits of social commentary on “Key & Peele,” highlighting the harsh everyday realities of being black in America by juxtaposing them with a fairytale-like world called Negrotown. Here, “you can walk the street without getting stopped, harassed, or beat.” While there’s singing and dancing in this sketch, it takes a bleak, sobering turn at the end.
“Dad’s Hollywood Secret,” set at the funeral of a beloved patriarch, does a great job of tonally shifting between tragedy and comedy as it pokes fun at Classic Hollywood’s racist past.