Series / Key & Peele

Key & Peele is a sketch comedy show starring Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele from the FOX sketch show MADtv. The show premiered on January 31, 2012 on Comedy Central. In terms of format, it brings to mind a mix of Chappelle's Show and the last two seasons of MADtv (seasons 13 and 14, spanning from 2007 to 2009) when the show was moved to the Henry Ford Music Box Theater and most of the sketches shown were low-budget short films and music videos to compete with the digital shorts on Saturday Night Live.

It ended on September 9, 2015 with a total of five seasons.

Key & Peele provides examples of:

  • Accidental Innuendo: In-universe example is featured in the end of the "McCringleberry Excessive Celebration" sketch. During the replay of McCringleberry's third excessive celebration penalty, the color commentator inadvertently draws a penis next to the ref's face when he is staring at McCringleberry's crotch. The color commentator apologizes to the viewers watching at home.
  • Aerith and Bob:
    • The "East/West College Bowl" skit has names like Ozamataz Buckshank, Beezer Twelve-Washingbeard, Hingle McCringleberry, X-Wing @Aliciousness, Donkey Teeth, and... Dan Smith.
    • Vandaveon and Mike are a pretty deliberate version (the former is sometimes shortened to 'Van' in some cases).
    • The hosts themselves: Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele.
  • Alien Blood: The aliens in "Alien Imposters" have green blood.
  • All Women Are Lustful: They still go for "Shot in the Dick" Guy, despite his injury.
  • Alter-Ego Acting: Vandaveon and Mike, wannabe YouTubers who critique the actual show and give their own interpretation... which can get a little fixated.
  • Alternate Timeline: Believe it or not, the "Family Matters" sketch. Due to Jaleel White being a psychotic murderous psychic, Family Matters wound up lasting for another six seasons. It's worth pointing out that the sketch took place in 1997, one year before it got cancelled.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Key (who is half-black, half-white). He uses it to his advantage, just like he did on MADtv. In fact, both Key and Peele were born from biracial families (half-black, half-white), but generally Peele tends to just play black characters, while Key has a wider range (mostly if he's not playing a black man, he plays Middle Eastern, Indian [both the Native American Indian and the "from India" Indian], and Hispanic).
  • And I Must Scream/Ironic Hell: Played for dark laughs in one skit about LMFAO singing about partying nonstop. After partying for more than a week they try to leave the party, only to find that every way out only leads back to the party and they're unable to escape. Eventually they kill themselves to escape... only to be revived with the party starting all over again.
  • Angry Black Man:
    • Luther, Obama's anger translator.
    • The substitute teacher Mr. Garvey, also played by Key.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The Inner-City Wizard School sketch; the school in question suffers from supposedly stereotypical problems found in typical inner-city public schools (only that they all have to do with magic a la the Harry Potter universe.) It also apparently has rats.
  • Ascended Meme: Luther finally gets to translate for the real President Obama.
  • As Himself: The fanboy valets get to meet Liam Neeson!
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: In a meta-example, a suspiciously high amount of comments on the YouTube video of the "Meegan, Your Jacket" sketch are about how well Peele plays a woman.
  • Awesome Mccoolname: The entire point of both "East/West College Bowl" skits.
  • Ax-Crazy: The fighter in this skit, who crosses over with Soft-Spoken Sadist.
  • Badass Grandma: Esther and Georgina, two church ladies who take on the devil.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The beginning sketch of "Parole Officer Puppet" has a news anchor talking about two men who were arrested for domestic violence. It's revealed at end of it that the anchor is actually the sportscaster.
  • Bald of Awesome: Key. Justified with all the wigs and headwear they need in this show.
  • Big Budget Beef-Up: Sketches like the Obama and Luther ones or "Roommate Meeting" only need one set, compared to the zombie one and "Alien Impostors" which not only use outdoor sets but have practical and special effects to boot. Some others like the Les Misérables parody and "Pirate Chantey" may use just one set, but the costumes and makeup are extensive to say the least.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: One sketch had a hypothetical meeting between Jordan and his father who refuses to believe that the former is his son until Jordan let's it drop that he has his own TV show. The man then tries to get Jordan to stay and we get this exchange.
    Jordan:When I first came in here, you wouldn't even acknowledge that I could possibly be your son. But now, only after I tell you that I have my own show on Comedy Central—
    Earl Peele:Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Comedy Central? Get the fuck out of my house!
  • Black and Nerdy: Both of them. And Wendell.
  • Black Best Friend: Discussed in one of the standup bits. Key and Peele apparently try out for this role a lot because neither of them make a convincing Scary Black Man, and thus end up with a set of oft-rehashed lines like "Aw HELL naw!" and "Y'all two clearly like each other!"
  • Black Comedy: All over the place. For example, in "Rap Battle Hype Man", the hype man is so out of control that he has to be put down.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Inverted in the "Suburban Zombies" sketch - the duo are introduced as the "sidekicks" to a gun-toting white hero played by Kevin Sorbo. He promises to get them out safely and is immediately chomped. It turns out the zombies are still more afraid of black people than vice versa, to Key and Peele's indignation. "What was that? They seriously wouldn't let her eat us?"
  • Blessed with Suck: The world is being attacked by a Zombie Apocalypse in "Suburban Zombies" but the zombies are racist and shun black people. Key and Peele are miffed at first, but then get invited to a party where everyone is happy that they're not being attacked.
  • Boom, Headshot: The end of "Alien Impostors".
  • Borrowed Catchphrase:
    Key and Peele: "LIAM NEESONS IN NON-STOP IS..."
    Liam Neeson: "MYY SHIIIIIIII~" (Key and Peele explode)
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: One sketch is about Key ending up boarding a plane last, as Peele as the flight announcer delays him by going through every possible combination of old folks, folks in wheelchairs, small children, religious people, military personnel...
    "Old religious folks with small military children." (an Asian lama with an infant in a navy dress uniform step up)
  • Brick Joke: Throughout Seasons 4 and 5, Key and Peele drive through the Mojave Desert having random conversations that lead into the next sketch. In the final scene of the final episode, they stop the car and turn to each other:
    Jordan: "Is this the place?"
    Keegan: "This is the place."
    Together: (Beat) "I said biiitch."
  • Briefcase Full of Money: One skit had a drug deal where the party receiving the money had a lot of trouble deciding how to count it on-site. One of them reasons that if they look up Google Images for a briefcase with that much money, they can compare it to the one they received, but the resulting picture was one taken by them minutes ago and posted online to ask if it looked right.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: One sketch has Peele as a gangster claiming he'd soiled himself before they could make their move, and Key as the other gangster claiming that's not normal for an adult. Until the other gang finds them and point guns in their faces.
  • Broken Aesop: Mr. T doesn't actually teach kids anything about making good life choices, just to not bother him about his own rather strange ones.
  • The Bully: Peele plays one that openly voices all of his problems to his victim (as does his father), with Key's character asking why he's so open with his issues and yet still a bully.note 
  • Call-Back:
    • Obama and Luther have Negraph.
    • In the 2013 college bowl lineup, there a guy named A. A. Ron Balakey.
    • The soccer sketch in Season 3 has a team called the Power Falcons, a nod to the show's Sentai / Tokusatsu parody of the same name.
    • In the I Am Legend parody, Key is jamming to the party song from the LMFAO sketch.
    • The bros in "Roomate Meeting" have an Omega Pi Omega banner. Peele also has a Power Falcons T-shirt.
    • The "Excessive Celebration" sketch reuses names from the East West Bowl sketch, both being conveniently about football.
    • The "Ultimate Cockblock" sketch has a blink and you'll miss it one: the news item being read by the newscaster Peele's character is hitting on is about the Pegasus riot.
    • One sketch has Key and Peele crossdressing as "D-Nice" and "J-Quellin" (both names unwillingly given to unrelated characters in the substitute teacher sketch).
    • A subtle one in the "Pirate Chantey", which includes the words "We don't say bitch...", a possible reference to the first-season sketch, "I Said Bitch".
  • The Cameo:
  • Camp Gay and Straight Gay:
    "We gonna rent the moon and fill it with ROSES!"
    • "Office Homophobe" also does this, with the Camp Gay thinking he's being discriminated against by someone he brands as the titular homophobe - who turns out to be Straight Gay.
    Camp Gay Man: Ooohh! I wasn't being persecuted, I was just being an asshole!
  • Captain Ethnic: Deliberately played with in "Power Falcons" - as Peele playing Green Falcon notes, despite Key's character being an extremely stereotypical Magical Native American, he's still referred to "Yellow Falcon", and the Asian woman in the group is "Purple Falcon"; only Peele himself is condescendingly referred to as "Black Falcon" by the others.
  • The Chew Toy: Key as the TV reporter, who's either on a disastrous helicopter flight, or getting attacked by a dog that's learned how to get around his protective gear.
  • Children Are Innocent: In the "Racist Zombies" sketch, the only zombie who actually tries to attack Key and Peele is a little girl, but her parents pull her away.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Samuel to Lashawn.
  • The Comically Serious: Legataux in Les Mis.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The College Bowl Rap Videos (and pretty much all the football-based sketches after that) bring back as many names from the 2013 College Bowl sketch as they can. For that matter, the name "Donkey Teeth" calls back to the "Soul Food" sketch.
    • The "Sexy Vampires" sketch ends with the gothic vampire den remodeled into something more normal, including a TV with the regular "Metta World News" segment playing.
    • The "Tackle and Grapple" coach looks like your regular sex maniac, but is later seen giving actual lessons in another sketch.
    • Ty Burrell returns as "Jew Hunter" Muller in season 4!
    • Season 5 takes this up to Continuity Cavalcade levels, from the followup to the Retired Badass Wannabe to the return of the Continental Breakfast guy.
  • Crazy Awesome / Hot-Blooded: Deconstructed and parodied in-universe in "Loco Gangsters" — when Carlito feels snubbed by the possible induction of Eduardo, an inhumanly fearsome and intense maniac, into the gang, he tries to prove he's the most loco instead; not only are most of his attempts (such as pretending to be a duck or wastefully collecting multiple punch cards for frozen yogurt) acknowledged as outright pathetic, but his efforts make Eduardo seem even more loco in comparison.
  • Creepy Child / Enfant Terrible:
    "I wish... to take all the prosthetic legs in the hospital... and bind them together... with the dried flesh of the dead... to create a webbed, massive creature..."
  • Demonic Dummy: Although "Little Homie" is technically a Perverse Puppet, he fits many of the criteria: a propensity for violence and manipulative behaviour, appealing to the darker side of others, and autonomy over his master.
  • Denser and Wackier:
  • Destination Defenestration: One sketch has Peele as a husband who finds his wife Ready for Lovemaking, asking him to request his 'deepest desires'. He starts talking about calling her friend Erica...
  • Drugs Are Bad: Parodied in one sketch in " Scariest Movie Ever". In it, a creepy man tells a man named Jeff about a drug that is placed under a eyelid and the effects said drug has. When Jeff tries it, he screams in horror and asks when does it start to work. The creepy man's responds that he doesn't know since he doesn't do drugs. He then turns to the camera and says that drugs are for losers. This followed by a banner that says "Don't even try it. You'll poop your mouth."
  • invokedDude, Not Funny!: The comedian in "Insult Comic" bases his act around making fun of people in the audience. Unfortunately for him, one of them turns out to be a gay paraplegic burn victim with an electrolarynx. The comedian tries to avoid making fun of him. However, when he finally relents after being pressured to do so, the audience turns on him.
  • Engineered Public Confession: Parodied in "Rap Confessions", where Gun Rack has recorded an entire cassette tape's worth of Boastful Rap detailing how he killed Darnell Simmons with "a long-ass gun", the exact time and location of the murder, how his alibi is demonstrably false, and the tics he shows when he's lying. Gun Rack claims it's all just a massive coincidence. The "bonus track" even reveals that his side girl is willing to take the fall for him, and predicts his quick re-capture.
  • Everyone Gets Their Turn: Hilariously averted and conversed with the "Les Mis" sketch where Legataux is frustrated at the inability to get his lines in while everyone else drowns him out.
  • Everything is Homophobic: The Camp Gay man in the "Office Homophobe" sketch assumes that any problem someone has with him is because they hate gay people, and not because of his obnoxious behavior. When he sees that the titular "homophobe" he had been berating for the entire sketch is actually Straight Gay, he realizes "I'm not persecuted, I'm just an asshole."
  • Extreme Omnivore: The Soul Food sketch.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Possibly. One of the earliest Meegan and Andre sketches, the "Meegan Your Jacket" one, ends with Andre following Meegan with her jacket until they collapse in a desolate wasteland where several other boyfriends and their girlfriends have died a long time ago. And the last Meegan and Andre sketch has Meegan guilt Andre out of breaking up with her, so this could still play out.
  • Forced Meme: Discussed in, and ultimately fueling, "Pussy on the Chainwax".
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Carlito the proud gangsta. His gang can't ever get rid of him because, really, how do you get rid of someone who God allows to go to heaven but outright refuses it because he thinks heaven is for pussies?
  • Gangbangers: One sketch is about a Hispanic gang in a secret meeting - which comes after a bit where Key claims that one such individual intimidated him into making more material about Hispanics.
  • Gang of Hats/Planet of Steves:
    • The Tallahassee Black Republicans, who continue to insist (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary) that they're a diverse group.
    • One sketch is about a Cargo Cult with every member in bowl cuts and the same yellow t-shirt with a big eye on it. Key and Peele play two members who chickened out of the ritual suicide, and try to disguise themselves with jackets over said t-shirts. It works, of course.
  • Ghetto Name:
    • All the names in their "College Bowl" sketches vary from this to outright being The Unpronouncable. And then there's the craziest one of all. Dan Smith, BYU.
    • In "Substitute Teacher Mr. Garvy", the titular teacher has spent his entire career teaching in the inner city, so he assumes every name is like this, confusing his new class of suburban white kids when he calls out names like "J-Kewllen" (Jacqueline) and "Balakay" (Blake). When the kids correct his pronunciation, he assumes they're trying to play a joke on him because nobody could ever have such silly-sounding names. With each correction, he becomes increasingly enraged and hostile, demanding that the kids stop screwing around and say their names "correctly", and culminating in him sending a kid to the principal's office. Finally, he calls out one last ghetto-fied name... and the only black kid in class responds immediately, because it actually is his name.
      Mr. Garvy: A-A-Ron! Where are you? Where is A-A-Ron right now? No A-A-Ron, huh? Well, you better be sick, dead, or mute, A-A-Ron!
      Student: Here!
      Mr. Garvy: Why didn't you answer me the first time I said it, huh? I'm just— y'know, I'm just askin', y'know. I said it, like, four times, so why didn't you say it the first time I said "A-A-Ron"?
      Student: ...Because it's pronounced "Aaron"?
      Aaron: ...Who?
      Mr. Garvy: O-SHAG-HENNESEY!
      Aaron: ...Principal O'Shaughnessy?
  • Giving Radio to the Romans: In one sketch, "Congressman Peele" begs the other Founding Fathers not to sign the Second Amendment because of the potential for future massacres. When they laugh at his warnings, he announces he's actually from the future, draws a pair of MAC-10s, and blows away the Amendment and the table it's laying on to make his case. The MAC-10s disappear from Peele's hands in a flash of blue light, but when one of the Founding Fathers audibly expresses his amazement at the destruction wielded by the "muskets" and a second one pulls out a piece of paper to make a sketch of them before he forgets, a pair of nasty high-tech looking weapons appear in place of the MAC-10s.
  • Glove Snap: At the end of this one.
  • Got Me Doing It: At the end of "Power Falcons":
    "That's it! Black Falcon out - GREEN FALCON! GREEN FALCON! DAMMIT!"
  • Groin Attack:
    • The "I got shot in the dick" music video.
    • The sketch where a news reporter (Key) gets attacked by a dog.
    • "Dicknanigans". That is all.
    • The "African Warlord" gets a potful of boiling water poured on his crotch.
    • At the end of the Georgina and Esther sketch, Esther snaps the devil's dick off while she's possessed.
  • Halloween Episode: Season 3.
  • Hardboiled Detective: The "Jimenez" sketch.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Sexually Active Today?: One sketch has Wendell attending a sex addicts support group.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: One Lashawn and Samuel sketch ends with Sam resorting to this to drown out Shawn's lunacy.
  • Heel Realization: "Oooooooh, I get it... I'm not persecuted, I'm just a asshole."
  • High School A.U.: Vincent Clortho Public Wizard school. It is essentially a poorer, inner city version of Hogwarts.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: The end of season 5 has a compilation of these.
  • Historical In-Joke:
  • Hurricane of Puns: The Prison Rape sketch has a gangster visiting the victim in prison, having no idea about it and unknowingly leading to a hurricane of double entendres.
  • It Is Pronounced Tropay: Inverted in the sketch where an Inner City School teacher is substituting at a predominately white suburban High School. He mispronounces all his students' names when calling attendance, and when they correct him he angrily scolds them for trying to mess with him. Standouts include "Blake" as "Bah-Lak-Kay" and "Aaron" as "Ay-Ay-Ron".
  • Ima Humanitarian: The soul food sketch ends with one of them ordering a human foot.
  • Innocent Bigot: The new neighbor in this sketch. He plays country songs that he does not believe to be racist despite their blatantly racist lyrics which his friend keeps pointing out.
  • Intercourse with You: Discussed in one of the road trip bits:
    Peele: Modern R&B nowadays is literally a description of sexual intercourse...
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine:
    • Some MADtv cast members have appeared on this show. Nicole Parkernote  appeared on the Les Miserables parody, Nicole Randall Johnsonnote  played Michelle Obama's anger translator, and Will Sassonote  appeared as a pirate singing a verse in the "Pirate Chantey".
    • Gary Anthony Williams appeared in the gay marriage planning sketch after both he and Key were on the new Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
  • Jerkass: Meegan. Passive-Aggressive Kombat is her at her nicest.
  • Karma Houdini: Jimmy the disruptive kid. Not only he manages to get his teacher fired and driven insane, he also succeeds at everything he does in his life.
  • Kent Brockman News: Metta World News, which apparently can't afford a second newsreader. Or a working teleprompter.
  • Large Ham:
    • A prerequisite for this kind of show, of course. Ty Burrell gets special points for his Nazi act.
    • Luther, who was hired by President Obama as critics felt that Obama was too stoic and aloof.
    • The two valets who are always fanboying over media topics such as 'Liam Neesons'.
  • Latex Perfection: One sketch is about two women impersonating Key and Peele this way to lecture men on proper cunnilingus.
  • Literal Metaphor: Levi owns lightning in a bottle, the goose that laid the golden egg, and a pair of the cat's pyjamas; being baked out of his skull, none of them seem quite as important to him as the idea he suddenly has for a smartphone app. He also owns a "high horse" that's just as much of a stoner as himself.
  • Little People Are Surreal: "Shady Landlord" has the apartment manager Devon hunting for a crack-smoking, apparently murderous dwarf on the premises, using a sword cane:
    Devon: Okay, y' know what, I'm gon' level wit' y'all — there is a 4'3" nigga with a purple beard named "Gerald" somewhere in this buildin'.
    Tenant: Why does he keep getting smaller every time you mention him?
    Devon: Seriously? Because I didn't want to alarm y'all. H-he is disturbin'ly small.
  • Magical Negro:
    • One sketch focuses on two of these using magic to fight for the right to help a white man with his marriage problems. At the end, they actually drop both trope names - "There can be only one Magical Negro!" - and have a Beam-O-War. They both die. Then a black woman shows up and the white man mistakes her for a third one. "Who you callin' negro, bitch?"
    • Another sketch focuses on a old-timey slave auction to buy one slave who claims he knows magic.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: The Saw parody. They even explain it as going into shock!
  • Meaningful Name: Luther again.
  • Mondegreen: "Black Ice".
  • Mood Whiplash: The punchline of "Negrotown."
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • "Flicker" and "Dueling Hats".
    • One opening bit had Key lining up an epic high five. "I had my plant foot, I got some torque in my hips, and I went straight Tiger Woods on it..."
    Peele: "It hit so hard my sh*t became a pink mist!"
    • One season 5 sketch is about a ESPN-like program about teaching. Then it leads up to a common perpetrator of this trope, a car commercial.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: About telling off someone at a dance circle, no less.
  • Neck Snap: Parodied mercilessly in the sketch "Strike Force Eagle 3".
  • No Indoor Voice: Luther and the two valet fanboys again.
  • No True Scotsman: The Camp Gay confronting a "office homophobe" who turns out to be Straight Gay contains elements of this.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: Invoked at the very end of the Gremlins 2 meeting. While the meeting obviously didn't happen, all the crazy stuff suggested during it is in the movie.
  • Not So Above It All: How several of the Obama/Luther routines end, with Obama joining in.
  • N-Word Privileges:
    • The Negraph app, which tells you when and where it's appropriate to use the N-word. It'll always be rendered invalid if you're white.
    • It's on the list of the things that Obama's Anger Translator is allowed to say (and by extension one of the things Obama is allowed to say).
  • Odd Name Out: in the first East-West Bowl skit (where the other players are all played by Key and Peele with increasingly absurd names), the last player is a Token White from Brigham Young University named Dan Smith.
  • Oh, Crap!: Latrelle when he sees the co-worker he had been bullying and calling a homophobe kiss his boyfriend and realizes:
    Latrelle: I'm not persecuted...I'm just an asshole.
  • Omnidisciplinary Lawyer: Parodied in "Judge Jessie", where his myriad and varied careers (master surgeon, skilled carpenter, deadly black belt) are all touted as having contributed to his legal expertise. He's also a crackhead, which mean he's openly fiending in court.
  • Once an Episode There is at least one Obama sketch (some of which include his anger translator, Luther).
  • The Oner: The Tea Party "Chosen One" sketch.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: They were racist.
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • The parody of reality shows where Key as not! Gordon Ramsay keeps getting Peele's hopes up, then trashing them back down, over and over and over.
    • The East/West Bowl ventures into this territory.
  • Overly Nervous Flop Sweat: The "browser history" sketch. Taken Up to Eleven of course.
  • Pirate Girl: There is a sketch featuring a (male) pirate crew singing a song that sounds like they're bragging of conquests, but the last line of each verse reveals them to be unusually enlightened in their attitudes towards women (for example, a verse about a woman who gets so drunk she passes out ends "so we took her to bed, and rested her head, and we left 'cause that's what gentlemen do"). The last pirate to sing starts in on something that's clearly not going that direction, and he gets out about two lines before being shot dead by the (unseen before this point) female captain, of whom the other pirates are all visibly terrified.
  • Police Are Useless: One sketch is about a policeman who pulls a gun on a perp and only keeps telling him to freeze, up until the perp pulls a gun on the cop and gets away pretty much unscathed.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad:
    • Mocked in "Offensive Boss", where a boss calls a gay man, a woman, and a black man working for him into his office to help with a speech he is giving later. He asks them to raise their hands and say something if they find anything in his speech to be offensive. He can't even get a word in edgewise before they start jumping on him for interpreting everything he says as a personal attack ("I don't need a man's permission to raise my hand!", etc). Mind you, this is all before he even gets to start his speech. When he finally does:
      Boss: A Chinaman, a Polak, and an Arab walk into a bar...
      Gay Man: I love Arab jokes!
      Woman: Ching-chong, bring it on!
      Black Man: You had me at "Polak"!
    • The Pirate sketch plays with this a bit towards the end. The third verse on the song has one pirate talking about how his girlfriend was pregnant, making it clear that he wanted a child and using words like "child" and "heir" that suggest he considered the fetus a living person, and yet he still supported her decision to get an abortion. Though this trope becomes most egregious in the forth verse of the song; another pirate sings a song about a woman getting sick with a terminal illness and donating all her money to charity in an attempt to save herself, and ends the song with "But the scariest part of the story from the start is I bet you assumed the doctor was a man."
  • Politically Correct History: The Pirate sketch, as it shows a crew of pirates holding some rather enlightened ideas. Though the introduction of The Captain at the end might justify/subvert this; her entire (male) crew is so terrified of her that it makes you wonder whether they really held their feminist views or simply pretended to out of fear. But of course, there really were a number of powerful, feared female pirate captains, so it may be Truth in Television.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The Text Message Confusion sketch shows a text message exchange that is interpreted as insulting by one side and casual on the other, which culminates in the former interpreting a meet-up at a bar as a challenge to a fight. Subverted at the end, when the aggressor confronts his friend at the bar, he is enlightened when the latter orders a drink for him and no one is brutally murdered that night
  • Positive Discrimination: Touched on time and again:
    • One sketch has Key and Peele in a bar, where some folks get so inebriated that they approach the duo and start apologizing for the last 200 years and stuff like that.
      • Subverted in the same sketch when the bartender admits that he is scared of the two black men in his bar. Key and Peele thank the man for his honesty.
    • "Sex with Black Men" zigzags this one with a vengeance.
    • Done with Asians in "Roommate Meeting".
  • Prison Rape:
    • One sketch is about Peele as an inmate who's apparently gone through so much prison rape that he's pretty much catatonic:
    You do not want to have animal relations with the other inmates... You are not earning anyone's undying respect when you fart and it sounds like a bottle...
    • An early sketch is about Peele as Lil Wayne followed by a camera in prison. He's in the showers when he drops the soap; the camera pans down to show that indeed happened; by the time the camera pans back up, everyone else in the showers is already surrounding him.
  • Rage Breaking Point: The substitute teacher (Mr. Williams, not Mr. Garvey) in the fourth "Substitute Teacher" sketch. He starts out acting calm and laid-back. However, when one of his students, Jimmy, keeps misbehaving, Mr. Williams tries to humble him by putting him in front of the class. Jimmy just responds by imitating the sub, upon which Mr. Williams loses it in a furious imitation of Jimmy so over the top that Jimmy and the rest of the class are completely shocked and silent.
  • Reality Ensues: The "Negrotown" sketch. It's actually Played for Drama.
  • Really Gets Around: Peele tells a story about his estranged father supposedly fathering several children in several states. "He just sticks his penis out the window as the bus keeps moving..."
  • Real Men Wear Pink: The buccaneers in "Pirate Chantey" might be typical hard-drinking, hard-living scalliwags of the era, but they also sing of anachronistically progressive feminist causes, decoratively whittle, and show genuine concern when members of their crew are injured. As Peele noted on Twitter, even if some of them do it only out of obedience to their fearsome lady captain, it's still a very nice gesture.
  • Rearrange the Song: The theme tune for Season 4 has been overhauled completely, from the Reggie Watts jingle to something sounding like the True Detective themes.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: A majority of sketches will have Key playing the Red while Peele does the Blue. This is most evident in ones with Obama and his anger translator, Luther. Possibly lampshaded in that in the opening that they wear a red shirt and blue hoodie, respectively. Throughout the series it's done straight, exaggerated, inverted and subverted, totally played with in every way.
  • Refuge in Audacity:
  • Retired Badass: One sketch starts out like an '80s / '90s action flick, with a soldier tracking down a retired super-badass living in isolation. It turns out they don't want him for this mission, they just need him to recommend someone - at which point he claims to have been "talked into it" and starts trying to prove he's still got it.
  • Re Tool: Mild case in Season 4, which replaced the studio audience in favor of short dialogues on a long road trip, and a redone title theme. However, the rest is exactly the same barring the odd Big Budget Beef-Up.
  • Retraux:
  • Reverse Psychology: How Obama (played by Jordan) deals with Republicans that always disagreed with his proposals.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: From the Obama skits to a Chris Brown and Rihanna one, a lot of their humor runs on this.
  • Rule of Three:
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The gang leader in the Latino gang sketches has a surprisingly adept vocabulary in "Loco Gangsters."
    "Carlito, that's just being cavalier with your finances instead of collecting your free dessert. I mean, that's not loco. It's just like... financially irresponsible."
  • Secret Test of Character: In "Little Homie", a parole officer named Daniel Tate is communicating to a parolee named Clive through a puppet named Little Homie. Little Homie appears to have grown sentient, encouraging him to go back into crime, tossing him a weed cigarette (when Clive questions Tate, Tate says "I want you to clean up your act, but you're not talking to me right now, you're talking to Little Homie) and threatening to shoot Tate if he doesn't smoke it. When Clive calls his bluff, Little Homie shoots Tate, who collapses to the ground. Little Homie cleans off his fingerprints, tosses Clive the gun so his fingerprints get on it instead and asks him to be "in together on this" (probably to keep quiet). Clive stutters "Ok, Little Homie, yeah" At that point, Tate climbs up, informs Clive he failed the test and sends him back to prison.
  • Shameless Self-Promotion: This.
  • Shout-Out:
    "You been saying some shit that doesn't exist, and you got Thing 1 and Thing 2 corroborating your story like it does!"
  • Shown Their Work: Mr. T PSA, an Affectionate Parody of Be Somebody... Or Be Somebody's Fool!, is almost indistinguishable from the real thing, right down to the incredibly awkward music numbers.
  • Slow No: Used in "Slap-Ass: In Recovery" and "LA Vice". The latter case is lampshaded.
    Key: "Oh, I get it. When I say no, stuff blows up. Cool."
  • Smug Snake: Carter Finley of "Cat Poster" thinks he is a criminal mastermind who can trick the detective interrogating him by making up names based on things in the room. He's really not very good at it, exacerbated by the fact that he doesn't stop even when it makes no sense.
  • Snowball Lie: "Pegasus Sighting", based on the leprechaun of Mobile, Alabama.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: The Obama & Luther skits. Especially when the dance was involved for the election celebration.
    • "Movie Hecklers", where two guys begin loudly criticizing a horror film in the theater for its "inconsistent visual language", among other sins. Even the other patrons silently concede that they have a point.
    "I mean, this nigga tryin' to do some homage to the German Expressionists or some shit!"
    "Take yo' ass to Mr O-Shag-Hennessy's office RIGHT NOW before I bust a "club" UP IN YO' BUTT!! Mischievous and deceitful! Chicanerous and deplorable!"
    • "Rap Battle Hype Man" ends with a simple black frame that says "Steinbeck, y'all!"
    • Georgina and Esther, the two old church ladies who describe in the most profane terms all the filthy things they'll do to Satan... with their prayers. At the end of the sketch, Esther [[spoiler: follows through on her threat to snap Satan's dick off during sex.
  • Spiritual Successor: To MADtv (which was promised a cable revival, but got it in the form of Cartoon Network's MAD and this show) and Chappelle's Show.
    • This is even lampshaded in the latest Dave Chappelle special, when he notes how mad he gets "watching Key and Peele doing my show."
  • Stepford Snarker: Peele plays one in a sketch and gets majorly dismantled by Key's character, right down to his true pitiful, sorry self.
  • Straight Gay: Peele's character in contrast to Key's Camp Gay character in "Office Homophobe." The realization of this for the latter has this last line:
    "I'm not persecuted, I'm just an asshole."
  • Stupid Sacrifice: One sketch is about a Cargo Cult that commits mass suicide in order to be taken away by the mothership. In the end it turns out that not only is the mothership real, it takes the two living members who'd chickened out earlier!
  • Stylistic Suck:
  • Subverted Punchline: From the sketch "Continental Breakfast":
    "And who are you, my little friend? Not a spoon, not a fork, but something in between...a fpoon!"
  • Surprise Creepy:
  • Take That!: To dubstep.
    • "Loco Gangsters" has a jab to the British version of The Office, where the gang leader mentions that the show is funny, but "awkward and sad at the same time."
  • The Ending Changes Everything: Can sometimes lead to Surprise Creepy.
  • This Loser Is You: The Wendell sketches.
  • Toilet Humor: "Where My Dookie Go".
  • Token White: Always the Odd Name Out at the end of the various East-West Bowl sketches.
    • Vulgar Humor: Desperately lacking, according to Vandaveon and Mike — not a single sketch has ever had enough penis jokes to satisfy them.
  • Troll: One opening bit has Key and Peele bringing up "one of our writers, James, he's a white guy, and sometimes we put the N-word in the script 20 times just to mess with him."
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible:
    • invokedThis sketch about Key uncovering Peele's audio journal, which sounds like some angsty social commentary with a heaping helping of weird-ass shit.
    • "Dicknanigans", in which men in zentais pummel each others' balls while words like "SOCIETY", "CONSUMERISM", and "LOVE" flash on-screen, ending with the declaration that love can conquer all. The audience is enthralled.
  • Uncle Tomfoolery: Before becoming a civil rights crusader and a beloved community figure, Otis Carmichael made a Hollywood film career out of playing racist stereotypes.note 
  • Unfortunate Names: The popular "football names" video parodies increasingly complex African-American names.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Freddie Wong's appearance in "Roommate Meeting". Warning: Nightmare Fuel involved.
  • Wag the Director: In-universe, parodied in the "Family Matters" sketch, where it turns out that the reason why the show had increasingly bizarre and Urkel-centric plotlines was because Jaleel White was an evil psychic who kills anyone who goes against what he wants.
  • Write What You Know: In-universe, Parodied in the Stan Lee skit, where Lee creates a bunch of characters based on the trials and experiences he faces as an old man. When the writers at Marvel tell him that his ideas are unusable, he comes up with a new idea: a team of people cursed to be forever unemployable due to biting the hand that fed them, which is met with thunderous applause.
  • The Whitest Black Guy: Both leads being biracial (one white parent, one black parent), this winds up being a central element of much of their comedy:
    • In one early sketch, Key plays a biracial man whose (white) date expects him to be able to present as white (which she defines as polite and friendly) and black (which she defines as an Angry Black Man) on cue depending on the situation. He obviously feels more comfortable in the quote-unquote "white" persona and ends the sketch very confused about which situations call for which. He does not, however, ever question her right to demand this of him.
    • In another sketch, the duo has returned to the neighborhood in which they grew up and is ordering dinner from a diner. They are drawn into a game of oneupsmanship to see who can make the "blackest" dinner order, culminating in their eating such "soul food" as possum spines, stork ankles, an old cellar door and a human foot. Neither will admit to disliking the fare for fear of losing racial cred.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Peele will commonly play a woman in some sketches, though Key has dressed as a woman too.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: In the East/West Bowl skit, one of the players is named T.J. A.J. R.J. Backslashinfourth V (that is, "T.J. A.J. R.J. Backslashinfourth the fifth"). Four generations decided to name their kid T.J. A.J. R.J.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Exploited by a character in one sketch. After finding that someone else won't fight him because he's carrying a baby, he takes other babies and wears them as armor.
  • You Just Told Me: In "Rap Album Confessions", Gun Rack denies murdering Darnell Simmons when his mixtape states otherwise.
  • Your Mom: A kid played by Peele won't stop making these jokes when the Indian doctor played by Key is trying to tell her that her medical condition is terrible. After the doctor rebukes him, the kid sincerely apologises, admitting he was using humour to deal with the pain. The doctor himself throws one in at the end, giving an "oh, snap" after seeing the boy's shock.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Subverted in that the zombies turn out to be racist and leave all the black people alone.