Profiles in Hustle: Key & Peele

The two comedians pull off an array of characters that most sketch shows would need a full cast to perform. 

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele have, together, created one of the most nuanced and hilarious sketch comedy shows to ever hit our television screens. Their recurring characters — the Black Republicans, The Valets, and Meegan, Barack Obama & Luther, Kareem & Jahar, and so on — are impeccably depicted, sometimes bombastic but always sharply spot-on. In 2013, the duo won a Peabody Award for the show’s “inspired satirical riffs on our racially divided and racially conjoined culture.”

Back in February, the New Yorker had the esteemed Zadie Smith profile them and their impressive backgrounds made perfect sense: Key has an M.F.A. in classical theater, for example, while Peele had initially studied puppeteering at his alma mater, Sarah Lawrence. After years of working in improv troupes and stints on “MADtv,” the duo finally got their own television show, where they hustle to play roles that other shows have ten times the staff to work on — and do it even better. 

Photos by Danny Feld/Comedy Central