Q. Can you talk about the goal for replacing the live segments this season with the road trip type scenes? Is this a move into more long-form storytelling?
A. I love the stage material that we’ve done in the past, but it’s always been my least favorite part of the show. To be really honest with you, the show that we originally pitched had me and Key in a car driving around and just talking. So it was more intimate, you get to see our relationship, and you don’t have the audience that we’re playing to. But the network felt they wanted some live stuff and we decided, "OK we’ll throw them a bone and throw in some live stuff." It worked, but this year we came to them and said, "You know what, we want to take it back and do the show that we’ve always wanted to do." The thing that we get the most response to are the sketches and the cinematic world, so we want to keep it in that world, just drive, and have the show feel like it’s just the viewers and us, no audience in the middle.
Are there any times when you two sit down to write a sketch and find that you guys have different experiences about a certain topic? How do reconcile those differences in experiences to write the sketch?
We always write to make us both laugh, so that usually churns out pretty easy because we’re either laughing or we’re not. There are times that I have to inform Key about what’s going on, but it’s usually not stuff I’m proud to know, like what it means to be “turnt up.” And there’s a lot from Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta that I can give him because, you know he’s a theater go-er, a wine drinker, he doesn’t know about some of the more foolish things out there, I should say, so that’s where I come in.
Do you catch yourself doing something in real life that you’ve made fun of in a sketch?
Well [the sketches are] real life. If Key and I are having a conversation and are both frustrated with our significant others, we’ll talk to each other like we’re real men. But you better believe that that’s not the conversation that carries over when we’re home. The best stuff for me are things that we all do, when everybody can understand the character’s motivation.
There’s been a ton of talk about you doing a movie. Is making a feature film the next logical step?
There are a couple of film projects that we’re working on right now. One of them is the reboot for Police Academy which is an interesting challenge. It’s still unclear whether or not we’d be in this movie or produce it, but it’s an interesting challenge for us because we don’t want it to be a movie that has no acknowledgement of the complicated relationship [between] citizens and police that’s always been around, and now has quicker [public scrutiny] because of the internet. So we’re trying to make a very silly but relevant Police Academy. And then besides that, we have a few projects that are maybe a little bit too early to get into but, just like our sketches, we want to go everywhere we can.
The NFL and the public have a touchy relationship currently as well. Have you had any kick back from anyone about your relentless spoofing of the NFL and athletes, or even your Obama impression?
Yeah so that one just happened. So it’s been close enough that we haven’t had any kick back from it, but in general, we’re at the point where we’re not seeing a whole lot of kick back. People who are watching the show are generally liking the show or they’re not watching it. But at this point, if you’re watching a Key & Peele sketch, you know you’ll see something that is irreverent but maybe rings true, maybe rings close to home, maybe is completely silly and foolish. But for the most part, we’ve been very lucky that it's our fans who connect [with us], as opposed to people who don’t like us.
Jordan Peele is one-half of the comedy duo Key and Peele, whose show Key and Peele runs on Comedy Central. Peele has an extensive background in improv comedy, having regularly performed for the storied BOOM Chicago creative group in Amsterdam, and for Second City in Chicago. He joined the cast of MADtv in 2003, it’s ninth season, where he was cast with his now comedy partner Keegan-Michael Key. Peele graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2001.