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Key & Peele has made its mark as one of the funniest shows on TV with its inventiveness, the range of stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele and maybe above all its consistency.
Sketch comedy is a notoriously hit-and-miss game, but Key & Peele have managed to keep the bar remarkably high. Over four seasons and 42 episodes — season five premieres Wednesday on Comedy Central — the show has hardly ever turned in a dud of an episode. Individual sketches don’t always work, but it’s a testament to the two stars and creators and their writers that there’s something good in nearly every episode.
Key & Peele has also built up a strong roster of recurring characters — and, admittedly, a few not-so-strong ones (if we never see baseball player Rafi and his slap-ass addiction again, the world will still turn). Here are The Live Feed’s picks for the 10 best, ranked in ascending order.
The paranoid, fashion-challenged landlord is pretty much a one-joke premise, but Key commits so fully to the bit that the payoff is better than expected.
9. Wendell Sanders
See above re: one-joke idea and also commitment to the bit. Peele invests enough sadness in the lonely, fantasy-obsessed Wendell that laughing at the character feels a little bit wrong
8. Meegan (and Andre)
The clueless, entitled girl is a stock character, but the extremes to which Peele takes Meegan sell the joke. She’s sometimes paired with a girlfriend, but the bits with her boyfriend Andre (Key) are the best: “Meegan, your jacket!”
7. Brock Favors
Keegan-Michael Key is a fantastic screamer. That’s really all you need to know.
6. Vandaveon and Mike
The online-only commentary by Key and Peele’s alter egos is sometimes as funny as the sketches they’re critiquing. (The characters are also being developed as a potential animated spinoff.)
5. Levi and Cedric
These sketches are always just two dudes talking, but it’s the things they talk about — contemplations of dookie, Levi going steampunk — that elevate the duo to one of the best recurring bits K&P do.
4. Mr. Garvey
Peele and Key love to play with names (see below), and Key’s tightly wound substitute teacher — a veteran of inner-city schools now working in the suburbs — is a great vehicle to do so. If you can look at the name “Aaron” and not think “A-A-Ron,” you’ve never seen a Mr. Garvey sketch.
3. Hingle McCringleberry, Ozmataz Buckshank et al
The East/West Bowl sketches are among Key & Peele’s best, but a few of the players have taken on lives beyond their outrageous names.
2. The valets
Key and Peele make no secret of their real-life fanboy tendencies, so it’s no surprise that one of their best creations are these two over-the-top obsessives who literally explode at the thought of “Liam Neesons” or the latest happenings on Game of Thrones.
1. President Obama and Luther
Key & Peele’s first breakout sketch remains its best, with Peele doing a very strong impersonation of the president (and gently mocking his sometimes frustratingly even-keeled demeanor) and Key hyperbolically offering the anger translation. The show stepped away from Obama/Luther sketches in season four, just as they were nearing the point of overuse, but recent events call out for at least a one-time return of the duo.
The new season of Key & Peele premieres Wednesday at 10 p.m. on Comedy Central.
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