Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, who star in their own eponymous sketch-and-standup series on Comedy Central starting Jan. 31, each have different ways to live green. "We're going toward a paper-free house," says Key, who plans to transfer all his documents to electronic files by scanning them. He's also paying bills and reading newspapers and magazines online and reading scripts on his iPhone, which he does 40 percent of the time now but expects that will increase if he gets an iPad. Peele, a New York transplant, doesn't have a car or a driver's license. "I'm living proof that you can live in Los Angeles and not have a car," he says. "Yes, I have to pay for a cab every now and then but I don't have to worry about parking, gas, car insurance or having an accident. I live in Hollywood and I walk, just like I do in New York."
Friends for 11 years, the pair worked together on "MADtv" and have now joined forces to bring their unique experience as biracial men to their characters on "Key & Peele," including a hilarious bit in which Peele plays President Obama and Key is his "anger translator," Luther. "We have this thing in common and we can explore stereotypes or the lack thereof. Being biracial, you're in some ways between worlds and that's something we explore in the show a little bit. We will adjust our blackness depending on the situation," says Peele, adding that they aim to mine comedy out of the "absurd notion" of race, drawing on such childhood memories as black classmates not believing the white women with them were their moms.
Peele, the more cerebral, introspective one, and Key, the more physical comedian of the two, both name Richard Pryor and Dave Chappelle as influences but are fairly new to standup comedy. "Our background is acting, sketch comedy and improv," explains Peele, who joined forces with his friend when they found themselves at liberty after Key's series "Gary Unmarried" was axed and Peele's sitcom pilot wasn't picked up.
Although Michigan-born, Key — a trained Shakespearean actor with a BFA from the University of Detroit and post-grad schooling from Penn State — would like to make some dramatic films and Peele wants to explore writing and producing opportunities (both are producers on "Key & Peele"), they have no complaints about the path they've landed on. While Key says they "almost want there to be no need" from a societal standpoint for a show that explores race for comedy, their practical desires win out. "The reason I do all of this is ultimately so I can buy my mother a house. At least that's what she tells me," says Peele. "I want to pay my mortgage," adds Key, "so let's get six years out of this thing!"
Photo courtesy Comedy Central