Alright, hear me out. The weird, violent and incredibly well produced sketch above was on this week’s episode of Key & Peele and it was absolutely brilliant.
What I love about the sketches Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele continue to put out (at least for the rest of this, their last season) is the immense production value put into each one. The comedy is the primary driver of these sketches but the fact they are so beautifully shot and the sets and wardrobe are given such care is a major reason why their sketches – and their show – will leave an indelible mark on the comedy landscape.
Imagine the writers room pitch of explaining the sketch starts with GOT Dothraki-esque warriors winning a harsh battle that ends in the beheading of the opposing side’s leader and THEN moving into the joke. Without language, the leader of the army (Peele) wants to entertain his men (including Key) by desecrating the severed head of his enemy in a few different ways. In what ends up being a real-time workshop of what the leader thinks is funny vs. what would get a laugh from his men, he tries a few different things with mixed results. What works gets laughter and cheer, what doesn’t gets grunts of disapproval. What ends up really killing – in the comedy sense – after a few failed gags is putting a pair of sandals under the head which makes his men lose it.
The reason this sketch is so brilliant is that it proves, in a very odd and overproduced way, that comedy transcends language. Overproduced is not meant as a negative in this sense as it actually adds to the contrast of a simple joke. We’ve all at some point performed the same on-the-fly prop comedy routine – albeit hopefully not with a severed head – with the same mixed result. Setting the relatable and very human attempt at comedy against a very well produced backdrop of a violent battle makes the joke all the more poignant. It’s like when we find out a classic artist painted a joke into a masterpiece. Knowing something so well done can contain something so simple is, for whatever reason, incredibly fun.
What do you think of the sketch? Are you as upset as I am about Key & Peele ending? Let us know in the comments below.