“You're going to be as surprised as we are,” promises Keegan Michael Key about today’s Super Bowl event. Not the game, of course, but the #RealTalk live commentary that he and Jordan Peele will be doing throughout the game, in character as two grade-A weirdos named Lee and Morris. Described as a hybrid of their Key and Peele characters “the Terries” and the valets, Lee and Morris will bring plenty of surprises—including a halftime show that feature mini-pigs. “We're literally going to be improvising with a small stampede of piglets,” says Peele. And he sounds genuinely thrilled about it.
When Key and Peele ended its run on Comedy Central last fall, the titular comedians behind it promised there would be more projects in store—but surely no one expected a project as weird and thrilling as this Super Bowl commentary, an ad for Squarespace (there will be also be an accompanying 30-second spot running during the big game) with more potential for genuine comedy than all the other Super Bowl ads combined. Without official approval from the NFL, Key and Peele won’t be able to use the names of any of the game’s players or teams, or even the phrase “Super Bowl.” But, well-versed in playing dummies and enthusiastic loons, they decided to turn that into an asset. “The beauty of these characters is they had the wise, clever idea of doing sports commentary during a big game and did not check up any of the legal [aspects],” Peele says. “That's where the fun of this thing is going to be is that these characters are going to get to squirm a little bit and have to figure out what they're going to talk about.”
Though famous for their carefully developed sketches, both Key and Peele have plenty of live performance experience, and say the improvisation required for the Super Bowl event is actually similar to how sketches on Key and Peele were made. “The type of fun that we had when we were doing Terries where we go off and we can really improvise in any direction we want, that's the fun that we're going to be bringing into these characters and they have some of the energy of the valets as well,” says Key. Adds Peele, “We're ostensibly doing the same process as the Terries, just that we can do it all in a row. No one will be yelling the word, "Cut," at any point in time.”
This is far from the first time the duo has turned toward football for comedy—their “East-West Bowl” sketch, featuring irresistibly silly names, was among their first viral hits, and the third in the series featured cameos from actual NFL players. One sketch parodying excessive celebration penalties inspired an actual NFL fine for Von Miller, who is playing in Sunday’s game. (Key admits that if Miller brings back the thrust in the Super Bowl, “That would be amazing.”) Key and Peele are still among the few comedians who consistently target the NFL, the monolithic sports organization that, through its sheer size, seems to silence its would-be jesters. “You're witnessing people living their lifelong dream and there should be something that we celebrate in that, as opposed to becoming just a product,” says Key. “We find the cleverest way and the funnest way to do it so it's not solely about indictments. There's a lot of fun stuff to be explored in that world and we've taken advantage of a little bit of it.”
When #RealTalk with Lee and Morris is over—broadcast only once, at Squarespace, but sure to live on in GIFs through eternity—our next reunion with Key and Peele won’t be far away. Keanu, their action comedy centered around the rescue of an adorable kitten, opens in April. And the two people who are about to wrangle piglets on live Internet television are very familiar with the power of cute animals. “It's funny because as soon as we shot the movie and the trailer came out, Keanu stopped returning our calls,” Peele says. But Key promises that their relationship with their fuzzy co-star is far from over. “There's only one Keanu and there's only ever going to be one Keanu. Even if we do a sequel in 30 years, we'll use the same cat.”