Key & Peele: “Season Three, Episode 12”
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Key & Peele: “Season Three, Episode 12”

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Key & Peele

"Season Three, Episode 12" 

Season 3, Episode 12

At last the second East/West College Bowl sketch rears its ugly heads. I was starting to wonder if Key & Peele had enough material that this one would be an Internet-only release. Instead it helps launch an episode of simplicity. Naturally there are the appropriate video flourishes—in fact the Channel 6 broadcast creates such verisimilitude with its stock (or faux-stock) footage and graphics that the violations of that reality, like the correspondent rolling his eyes on-camera, lets some of the air out—but mostly this is an episode about actors on a stage playing scripts about variation and mild escalation. It’s an episode of wall-to-wall Metta World News.

No sketch is more simple than the cold open: Key and Peele walk through a set under construction and something drips onto them to create paint titties. It’s nothing but performance and music, and it’s hilarious. They’re talking about the Star Wars prequels now because it’s been four years since the last season of Game Of Thrones. And then the slightest resemblance to breasts sets the guys off. The look on Peele’s face as he drools over Key’s paint titties is only surpassed by the look on his face when Key starts licking them to prove that they’re paint. Then it starts to get a little dark, which is only funnier. I guess Peele wants to squeeze Key’s pecs or something now? I wonder what would happen if he had been allowed to get that far, but things don’t have a chance to get into assault before the painter gives him a pair of his own, and suddenly it’s not so fun. I also wonder if Key would then be turned on by Peele’s paint titties after having rationally argued that he shouldn’t be, but instead the guys cover up their non-nudity and flee. And we were just getting to the interesting part of the experiment.

When I watched the pre-season promo for the East/West College Bowl sequel, I found it basically repetitive. Not in the obvious way, but in the other obvious way: That it was the same old joke as the first sketch, just with different words. And it is, but this sketch is still hilarious. It helps that the stage intro touches on some real-life outlandish names: Silverberry Mouhon, Barkevious Mingo and his brother Hughtavious, Wonderful Terrific Monds II. Grounding it brings out an unexpected flavor in the sketch. The joke is partly that the names are funny. But they’re also these exuberant, creative stabs at independence. I mean, it’s just a name, and we’re taking about things like “Bismo Funyuns” here. But I can’t help but appreciate the small, silly way Mr. and Mrs. Funyuns violate the norms. Granted, the sketch is a total winner even divorced from real life. It isn’t just a bunch of funny names, although Cartoons Plural, D’Pez Poopsie, Squeeeeeeeeeeps, God, and Fudge are certainly that. It’s also the delivery, the way Key and Peele try to give every name its due, changing up their levels of aggression, often aiming for the appropriate regional accents. Certain names (ahem, Huka’Lakanaka Hakanakaheekalucka’Hukahahakafaka) also bring out a little bit of comic tension in how smoothly the actors can spit out what’s supposed to be their given names. The hairstylists and costumers responsible for all those looks are basically creating their own portfolios. And on top of everything else, dear God (the player) are the profile graphics hysterical. You could watch this thing on mute and just pay attention to the background pictures and it’d still be an A+.

The rest is a solid bunch. For every pair of crocheted scrotum cozies, there’s a lame punchline (“Oh, I get it. I’m not persecuted. I’m just an asshole”). The premise is great; it’s the winking epiphany that rings false. What asshole folds just because he’s been presented with evidence that he’s wrong? Remember the crosswalk sketch? Besides, this sketch has been done before, if not necessarily as a sketch. That said, Key has a blast flaunting it. Witness that air-kick he gives Peele as a button to one part of their conversation. The single-father story recalls Crash in a bad way, but the planet Thelonious is inspired. Then there’s the Channel 6 interview with two men with Moe haircuts who are definitely not cult members who happened to miss the day of their suicide pact. Like I said, the sketch establishes its reality so well that certain broadness deflates it, but Taco Tuesday is certainly not the worst reason to join a cult.

On the other hand, the Gerald sketch gets weirder and weirder until Key stabs the ceiling and a little person with a purple beard falls to the floor and runs off, and it’s somehow just right. It all depends on the setup. The idea is just that Peele has a weirdo landlord, but then it turns out that Key’s landlord is looking for the aforementioned little person who will do anything to get money for crack. He will kill you. It’s hard not to be won over when Peele’s girlfriend comes out of the shower suddenly and Key pulls the sword out of his cane and charges at her, stabbing the wall. The rest is a little person with a purple beard hiding in the ceiling. On the one hand, I’m not sure I get it, but on the other, what’s not to get?

Stray observation:

  • Metta World News has a science story. “It is impossible to knock yourself out with your own fist. Let’s not fall behind, America.”

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