Not too shabby at all. Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele — stars of Comedy Central’s Key & Peele — have earned the number 18 spot on Fast Company‘s annual list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business. Regardless of what you think of listicles, reporter Joe Berkowitz’s cover story on the duo contains some pretty awesome insights into their creative process.
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.”
If you’re an aspiring comic studying Key and Peele the way they’ve studied Chaplin and Chappelle, the article also includes Jordan Peele’s tips on “How to Create a Catchphrase.” But, perhaps most encouragingly, Fast Company reports that season 3 of Key & Peele — premiering September 25 — will see the return of Samuel and LaShawn (WE’RE HAVING A BAAAAAABY!!!!) and a “spiritual sequel” to the East-West College Bowl sketch. Cannot wait.