The “Key & Peele” sketch starts small: Just two guys complaining about their wives, who are in another room, out of earshot.
One swears he said to his wife — who told him to be in the car by 6:45 when she didn’t even get out of the shower until 20 minutes after that — “I looked this woman in the eye, I said . . . ”
His voice drops to a whisper as he says a word he never really called her, because no man in his right mind calls his wife a — well, you know.
The guys relocate to the basement, as the other friend relates a my-wife-is-infuriating story that ends with: “I looked my woman in the EYE SOCKETS. I told my woman straight out. I said it! I said — ”
But the wives interrupt, so the men seek even more secluded locales: first a tree in the yard, then a field in the middle of nowhere. Finally, ridiculously, they’re in a rocket ship, and Peele’s character ejects himself into space. His voice echoes out into the ether — “I said biiiii . . . ” — as he floats away to his certain death in the abyss.
“You’ll notice in ‘Key & Peele,’ one of the outs that continuously comes up is somebody either sacrificing their life or getting killed,” Jordan Peele said by phone, reflecting on the five seasons — that’s 298 sketches — he and co-creator Keegan-Michael Key wrote, produced and performed. (All of which are now available to watch free on Comedy Central’s website.)
It’s not just “Key & Peele.” Plenty of “Inside Amy Schumer” sketches devolve into suicide sprees or cannibalism. On “Saturday Night Live’s” May season finale, a “Dead Poets Society” parody came to a bloody conclusion when Pete Davidson got gruesomely decapitated by a ceiling fan.
Sketch comedy allows for this kind of finality: The three or four minutes are up, and you’ll never need to see these characters again, so why not get rid of them for good? “If you come out of a sketch background, you’ve written a lot of sketches where people explode or their heads fall off,” said Jay Martel, executive producer of “Key & Peele.”