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Keegan-Michael Key

Co-Star of the Sketch Comedy Show "Key & Peele" on Comedy Central

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 Keegan-Michael Key Biography

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are plenty proud of their hit sketch-comedy show "Key & Peele," but they have no delusions about why it was put on the air. In 2006, the Comedy Central smash "Chappelle's Show," starring African-American comedian Dave Chappelle, publicly fell apart. The network was "looking for someone to fill that void," says Key, who is hanging out with his comedy partner in their Sunset Strip production offices. Comedy Central wanted Key and Peele to follow Chappelle's old formula to the letter -- so much so that the network insisted that these new guys introduce their sketches onstage in front of a live audience, just as Chappelle did.

Key and Peele do that -- but nothing else about their show resembles Chappelle's hit.

As devoted students of improv comedy, Key and Peele wield their individuality like weapons. It's an arsenal that prominently features two lifetimes' worth of biracial experience and a skein of nerdy interests. That duality has helped the pair create a show unlike any other on television. Sketches are as likely to explain the electoral college as they are to explore the condition of not feeling black enough. Every scene is a beautifully shot cinematic opus, edited down to a YouTube-friendly three minutes, and capped with a dark-twist ending. "I think the mark of any great sketch show is that it's a true outgrowth of the creators' organic voice," says David Wain, a performer in the seminal '90s comedy troupe The State, who has cast Key and Peele in several movies he's directed. "They're not trying to fit someone else's mold. They're both just so damn talented and versatile and funny."

Nearly every element of Key & Peele has a basis in improv, the comedic training renowned for in-the-moment creation and one-upmanship. The two met in the Chicago improv scene and got their first big break when they were "MadTV" cast members in the mid-2000s. Every member of the writing staff has a background in improvisation; showrunner Ian Roberts is a co-founder of Upright Citizens Brigade, whose Los Angeles and New York improv theaters and schools have become the preeminent industry breeding ground.

Improv emphasizes showing over telling, a principle that often manifests in a technique known as "the invisible game" on "Key & Peele." The central joke of these scenes is ladled out, beat by beat, but never spoken of. "The audience loves to figure things out," says Key, who has extensive professional acting experience and a unique physicality honed by aping silent masters such as Chaplin and Keaton. "They love it when a performer leaves a trail of bread crumbs for them, and they get to participate in the comedy."

This sense of co-conspiracy extends to Key & Peele's creation process, a rigorous winnowing down of more than 330 sketches to the 82 slots for the upcoming season. A giant whiteboard in the creators' office is awash with notecards bearing neatly scrawled words such as "honest bully." Many represent "dooks" -- half-baked scenes unloaded at the writers' meeting. Everyone dog-piles on these ideas, trying to figure out the comedic engine that will make them work as sketches. Once that's thought through, the dook originator writes a draft. Then come notes from Key and Peele, an internal table read, and more than three presentations to the network before Key and Peele decide which sketches get on air. "Anyone who's really utilized collaboration," says Peele, citing Pixar and the Muppets, "has a philosophy like, 'Let's throw it all against the wall and see what sticks.' That's how we do it. At a certain point, we're cutting scripts that we love." Key adds, "When it gets heart wrenching is when it gets exciting. And that's where we are with the third season right now."

Season 3 of "Key & Peele," which premieres September 25, will continue the pair's steady move away from explicitly racial sketches into new territory. Although the series has mostly steered clear of recurring characters, the half-proud gay couple Samuel and LaShawn will return, and there will be a spiritual sequel to the East-West College Bowl sketch, for which the staff famously created 32 separate looks and such farfetched football player names as J'Dinkalage Morgoone and X-Wing @Aliciousness (nerd alert for fans of "Game of Thrones" and "Star Wars").

Key and Peele are branching out beyond TV too. "Keanu," a feature film script co-written by Peele, is a fish-out-of-water romp wherein a gangster with an exotic pet menagerie kidnaps a cat belonging to Key and Peele -- who fight back by making like gangsters themselves. The scenario sounds like the logical extension of a "Key & Peele" sketch, which makes sense given that the duo and series director Peter Atencio strive to make each sketch look like the funniest set piece in a 93-minute movie. Fans of Key & Peele's season 2 Halloween episode, as well as all those macabre sketches in which characters meet grisly fates, won't be surprised that the pair have a fondness for horror movies. Key costars in the fall indie horror comedy "Hell Baby," and Peele has his own horror script in development. If Key and Peele's dedicated skewering of cliches has had any effect on pop culture, nobody will care whether the black guy dies first or not.

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  • HOW TO BOOK Keegan-Michael Key?

    Our booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure talent like Keegan-Michael Key for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment for over 15 years. The team at All American Entertainment represents and listens to the needs of organizations and corporations seeking to hire keynote speakers, celebrities or entertainers. Fill out a booking request form for Keegan-Michael Key, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get pricing information and check availability for Keegan-Michael Key or any other celebrity of your choice.
  • HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BOOK Keegan-Michael Key?

    Booking fees for Keegan-Michael Key, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. Pricing often varies according to the circumstances, including the talent's schedule, market conditions, length of presentation, and the location of the event. Speaker fees listed on this website are intended to serve as a guideline only. In some cases, the actual quote may be above or below the stated range. For the most current fee to hire Keegan-Michael Key, please fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak with an experienced booking agent.
  • WHO IS THE AGENT FOR Keegan-Michael Key?

    All American Entertainment has successfully secured celebrity talent like Keegan-Michael Key for clients worldwide for more than 15 years. As a full-service talent booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Keegan-Michael Key for your next private or corporate function.
  • WHAT IS A FULL-SERVICE TALENT BOOKING AGENCY?

    All American Speakers is a "buyers agent" and exclusively represents talent buyers, meeting planners and event professionals, who are looking to secure celebrities and speakers for personal appearances, speaking engagements, corporate entertainment, public relations campaigns, commercials, or endorsements. We do not exclusively represent Keegan-Michael Key or claim ourselves as the exclusive booking agency, business manager, publicist, speakers bureau or management for Keegan-Michael Key or any other speaker or celebrity on this website. For more information on how we work and what makes us unique, please read the AAE Advantage.
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All American Entertainment (AAE) exclusively represents the interests of talent buyers, and does not claim to be the agency or management for any speaker or artist on this site. AAE is a talent booking agency for paid events only. We do not handle requests for donation of time or media requests for interviews, and cannot provide celebrity contact information.

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Keegan-Michael Key

Co-Star of the Sketch Comedy Show "Key & Peele" on Comedy Central

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Los Angeles, CA, USA
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Keegan-Michael Key Biography

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are plenty proud of their hit sketch-comedy show "Key & Peele," but they have no delusions about why it was put on the air. In 2006, the Comedy Central smash "Chappelle's Show," starring African-American comedian Dave Chappelle, publicly fell apart. The network was "looking for someone to fill that void," says Key, who is hanging out with his comedy partner in their Sunset Strip production offices. Comedy Central wanted Key and Peele to follow Chappelle's old formula to the letter -- so much so that the network insisted that these new guys introduce their sketches onstage in front of a live audience, just as Chappelle did.

Key and Peele do that -- but nothing else about their show resembles Chappelle's hit.

As devoted students of improv comedy, Key and Peele wield their individuality like weapons. It's an arsenal that prominently features two lifetimes' worth of biracial experience and a skein of nerdy interests. That duality has helped the pair create a show unlike any other on television. Sketches are as likely to explain the electoral college as they are to explore the condition of not feeling black enough. Every scene is a beautifully shot cinematic opus, edited down to a YouTube-friendly three minutes, and capped with a dark-twist ending. "I think the mark of any great sketch show is that it's a true outgrowth of the creators' organic voice," says David Wain, a performer in the seminal '90s comedy troupe The State, who has cast Key and Peele in several movies he's directed. "They're not trying to fit someone else's mold. They're both just so damn talented and versatile and funny."

Nearly every element of Key & Peele has a basis in improv, the comedic training renowned for in-the-moment creation and one-upmanship. The two met in the Chicago improv scene and got their first big break when they were "MadTV" cast members in the mid-2000s. Every member of the writing staff has a background in improvisation; showrunner Ian Roberts is a co-founder of Upright Citizens Brigade, whose Los Angeles and New York improv theaters and schools have become the preeminent industry breeding ground.

Improv emphasizes showing over telling, a principle that often manifests in a technique known as "the invisible game" on "Key & Peele." The central joke of these scenes is ladled out, beat by beat, but never spoken of. "The audience loves to figure things out," says Key, who has extensive professional acting experience and a unique physicality honed by aping silent masters such as Chaplin and Keaton. "They love it when a performer leaves a trail of bread crumbs for them, and they get to participate in the comedy."

This sense of co-conspiracy extends to Key & Peele's creation process, a rigorous winnowing down of more than 330 sketches to the 82 slots for the upcoming season. A giant whiteboard in the creators' office is awash with notecards bearing neatly scrawled words such as "honest bully." Many represent "dooks" -- half-baked scenes unloaded at the writers' meeting. Everyone dog-piles on these ideas, trying to figure out the comedic engine that will make them work as sketches. Once that's thought through, the dook originator writes a draft. Then come notes from Key and Peele, an internal table read, and more than three presentations to the network before Key and Peele decide which sketches get on air. "Anyone who's really utilized collaboration," says Peele, citing Pixar and the Muppets, "has a philosophy like, 'Let's throw it all against the wall and see what sticks.' That's how we do it. At a certain point, we're cutting scripts that we love." Key adds, "When it gets heart wrenching is when it gets exciting. And that's where we are with the third season right now."

Season 3 of "Key & Peele," which premieres September 25, will continue the pair's steady move away from explicitly racial sketches into new territory. Although the series has mostly steered clear of recurring characters, the half-proud gay couple Samuel and LaShawn will return, and there will be a spiritual sequel to the East-West College Bowl sketch, for which the staff famously created 32 separate looks and such farfetched football player names as J'Dinkalage Morgoone and X-Wing @Aliciousness (nerd alert for fans of "Game of Thrones" and "Star Wars").

Key and Peele are branching out beyond TV too. "Keanu," a feature film script co-written by Peele, is a fish-out-of-water romp wherein a gangster with an exotic pet menagerie kidnaps a cat belonging to Key and Peele -- who fight back by making like gangsters themselves. The scenario sounds like the logical extension of a "Key & Peele" sketch, which makes sense given that the duo and series director Peter Atencio strive to make each sketch look like the funniest set piece in a 93-minute movie. Fans of Key & Peele's season 2 Halloween episode, as well as all those macabre sketches in which characters meet grisly fates, won't be surprised that the pair have a fondness for horror movies. Key costars in the fall indie horror comedy "Hell Baby," and Peele has his own horror script in development. If Key and Peele's dedicated skewering of cliches has had any effect on pop culture, nobody will care whether the black guy dies first or not.

Keegan-Michael Key Videos

  • Keegan-Michael Key interviewed by Jonathan Novack at L.A. ...
  • Key & Peele: Substitute Teacher

Speaker Lists Featuring Keegan-Michael Key

FAQs on booking Keegan-Michael Key

  • How to book Keegan-Michael Key?

    Our booking agents have successfully helped clients around the world secure talent like Keegan-Michael Key for speaking engagements, personal appearances, product endorsements, or corporate entertainment for over 15 years. The team at All American Entertainment represents and listens to the needs of organizations and corporations seeking to hire keynote speakers, celebrities or entertainers. Fill out a booking request form for Keegan-Michael Key, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to discuss your upcoming event. One of our experienced agents will be happy to help you get pricing information and check availability for Keegan-Michael Key or any other celebrity of your choice.
  • How much does it cost to book Keegan-Michael Key?

    Booking fees for Keegan-Michael Key, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. Pricing often varies according to the circumstances, including the talent's schedule, market conditions, length of presentation, and the location of the event. Speaker fees listed on this website are intended to serve as a guideline only. In some cases, the actual quote may be above or below the stated range. For the most current fee to hire Keegan-Michael Key, please fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak with an experienced booking agent.
  • Who is the agent for Keegan-Michael Key?

    All American Entertainment has successfully secured celebrity talent like Keegan-Michael Key for clients worldwide for more than 15 years. As a full-service talent booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Fill out the booking request form or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Keegan-Michael Key for your next private or corporate function.
  • What is a full-service talent booking agency?

    All American Speakers is a "buyers agent" and exclusively represents talent buyers, meeting planners and event professionals, who are looking to secure celebrities and speakers for personal appearances, speaking engagements, corporate entertainment, public relations campaigns, commercials, or endorsements. We do not exclusively represent Keegan-Michael Key or claim ourselves as the exclusive booking agency, business manager, publicist, speakers bureau or management for Keegan-Michael Key or any other speaker or celebrity on this website. For more information on how we work and what makes us unique, please read the AAE Advantage.

Keegan-Michael Key is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Keegan-Michael Key for your event is $100,000 - $200,000. Keegan-Michael Key generally travels from Los Angeles, CA, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Jordan Peele, Bryan Cranston, Nick Offerman, Samantha Bee and Trevor Noah. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Keegan-Michael Key for an upcoming event.

Keegan-Michael Key Speaker Videos

  • Keegan-Michael Key interviewed by Jonathan Novack at L.A. ...
    Key & Peele: Substitute Teacher

Keegan-Michael Key News

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Speakers Similar to Keegan-Michael Key

This website is a resource for event professionals and strives to provide the most comprehensive catalog of thought leaders and industry experts to consider for speaking engagements. A listing or profile on this website does not imply an agency affiliation or endorsement by the talent.

All American Entertainment (AAE) exclusively represents the interests of talent buyers, and does not claim to be the agency or management for any speaker or artist on this site. AAE is a talent booking agency for paid events only. We do not handle requests for donation of time or media requests for interviews, and cannot provide celebrity contact information.

If you are the talent, and wish to request removal from this catalog or report an issue with your profile, please click here.

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