Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele created a total of 298 sketches during their show “Key & Peele”‘s time on the air, per Vulture, and many of them remain absurdly quotable. However, according to Key himself, one sketch outshines the rest in terms of the number of times fans reference it to his face.
“It’s usually someone either across the street or five feet from me going, ‘You done messed up, A-A-Ron,'” he tells POPSUGAR, going on to scream the line and adding, “I’m saying it about 60 decibels lower than anybody else would.” The quote comes from the sketch “Substitute Teacher,” which finds Key playing a substitute teacher named Mr. Garvey who has trouble pronouncing his middle-class white students’ names. The sketch, which aired in 2012 as part of the show’s second season, was an immediate hit even among its writers.
“During the pitch meeting, once the premise was announced, the whole writers’ room — it was like sharks in a frenzy after some chum had been dumped in the water,” Key told Entertainment Weekly in a previous oral history of the sketch. “Everybody had an example of a name that they thought could work.” In the same interview, he revealed that “Substitute Teacher” is one of the “two most popular sketches in ‘Key & Peele’ history,” the other being “East/West College Bowl,” which features an array of college football players with increasingly strange names.
“I think it has to do with [the fact] ownership of your being is connected to your name, and if you’ve ever had your name pronounced incorrectly, it’s something that resonates,” the comedian said in the EW interview. “That’s my unscientific, unproven theory as to why it continues to bring joy.”
Currently, Key is starring in the Hulu comedy “Reboot,” which explores a popular sitcom that’s getting the remake treatment. He tells POPSUGAR that he feels there’s a lot to learn from comedy of yore. In the past, he says, comedy was often an “anatomy of tiny jokes,” but “now, there’s almost more situation . . . and less jokes.” But one of the original forms of sketch comedy, he says, were “blackouts” — minute-long sketches popular in vaudeville — which are experiencing a renaissance on platforms like TikTok. “What young people are doing right now is this classic form of comedy,” he says. “And they don’t even know it.”