As they begin Season 3 of "Key & Peele" (9:30 p.m. CT Wednesday, Sept. 18, Comedy Central; 3 stars out of 4), comics Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele need to focus on new material.
It's not that fan favorite characters such as President Obama's Anger Translator and Mr. Garvey the substitute teacher don't still bring the laughs, but the new sketches involving these characters don't necessarily expand the joke like a new sketch involving football players Hingle McCringleberry and Ozamataz Buckshank, who rap with their unusually named teammates a la the 1985 Bears' "Superbowl Shuffle."
Mr. Garvey still hilariously mispronounces easy names and flips out if a student speaks up. And Luther still goes overboard in interpreting the president's words.
"Man, y'all some deluded, self-important [bleeps] if you think we're interested in your deviant, porn-watching asses," Luther says, translating Obama's message about the government spying on citizens' digital activity.
OK, they're still funny—but I was most interested in seeing new characters and sketches like their send-up of "Les Miserables," in which Javert (Key) laments in song how he wishes people would speak to him "one at a time." It's a total riot and epitomizes how the duo satirizes not only social and political issues but art and pop culture as well.
Another aspect of the show I love is when the duo introduces sketches, or riffs on them, in front of the studio audience. This stand-up part of the show feels loose, personal and quite confident. On the other hand, the short bits called Metta World News feel forced and simply don't work.
If you're looking for an extremely edgy show that ruthlessly hits on race issues, "Key & Peele" isn't it. The duo generally plays things more subtlely, like the premiere's opening sketch, in which Peele, minding his own business while walking down a street, scares a couple of white families and then is followed by a white cop until Peele pulls up his hood. On the side is the profile of a white man, which tricks the cop into leaving Peele alone.
All joking aside, Key and Peele do still have something to say.
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