TV Club: Key & Peele: “Severed Head Showcase”

The first sketch of “Severed Head Showcase,” in which a church choir tries to warm up without the guidance of their leader, shows Key & Peele doing what they do best: creating highly specific characters and dynamics playing out a near-universal experience. With Charles stuck on the wrong bus clear across town, a power vacuum opens. As choristers keep up the tempo behind him, one singer (Keegan-Michael Key) zeroes in on another (Jordan Peele), trying—first gently, then insistently—to nudge him into a lower key.

Neither character is named, and the audience knows only two things about them: They sing in a choir and neither of them is Charles. That doesn’t prevent Key and Peele from investing them with specific character and emotion as the conversation, carried on within the song, escalates from “I think you’re off of your note” to “I’m pretty sure this is …

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