Keegan-Michael Key
Keegan-Michael Key Peabody 2014 (cropped).jpg
Key at the Peabody Awards, May 2014
Born (1971-03-22) March 22, 1971 (age 46)
Southfield, Michigan, U.S.
Alma mater University of Detroit Mercy (B.F.A.)
Pennsylvania State University (M.F.A.)
Occupation Actor, comedian, writer, producer
Years active 1999–present
Spouse(s) Cynthia Blaise (m. 1999; separated 2015)

Keegan-Michael Key (born March 22, 1971) is an American actor, comedian, writer, and producer. He starred in the Comedy Central sketch series Key & Peele and co-stars in the USA Network comedy series Playing House. He spent six seasons as a cast member on MADtv and has made several guest appearances on Whose Line is it Anyway?. In 2014, he also starred in the first season of the FX series Fargo and the sixth and seventh season of the NBC series Parks and Recreation. He has had supporting roles in several films, including Let's Be Cops, Tomorrowland and Pitch Perfect 2. In 2015, Key appeared at the White House Correspondents' Dinner as the character Luther, President Barack Obama's anger translator. In 2016, he produced and starred in Keanu (2016) with his Key & Peele co-star Jordan Peele.


Early lifeEdit

Key was born in Southfield, Michigan, and raised in Detroit. He was adopted as a child by Patricia Walsh and Michael Key, both social workers. His biological and adoptive fathers are both African-American, and his biological and adoptive mothers are both Caucasian; he later met his biological mother, Carrie Herr.[1] Being biracial has been a source of comedic material for Key, who told Terry Gross in an interview for NPR, "I think the reason Jordan and I became actors is because we did a fair amount of code-switching growing up and still do."[2][3] In 1989, he graduated from Shrine Catholic High School in Royal Oak, Michigan. Key attended the University of Detroit Mercy as an undergraduate and earned his Master of Fine Arts in Theater at Pennsylvania State University.[4] While at the University of Detroit Mercy, he was a brother of Phi Kappa Theta. He later discovered the identity of his birth mother, and that he had two half-brothers who were both already deceased, one of them comic book writer Dwayne McDuffie.[5][6]


Key in 2012


Key joined the cast of MADtv midway into the ninth season. He and Jordan Peele were cast against each other so that FOX could pick one black cast member, but both ended up being picked after demonstrating great comedic chemistry.

Key played many characters on the show. One of his most famous characters is "Coach Hines", a high school sports coach who frequently disrupts and threatens students and faculty members. On the penultimate episode of MADtv, Hines revealed that he is the long-lost heir to the Heinz Ketchup company and only became a Catholic school coach to help delinquent teenagers like Yamanashi (Bobby Lee). During seasons 9 and 10, Key appeared as "Dr. Funkenstein" in blaxploitation parodies, with Jordan Peele playing the monster.

Key also portrayed various guests on Real **********ing Talk like the strong African Rollo Johnson and blind victim Stevie Wonder Washington. He often goes "backstage" as Eugene Struthers, an always-ecstatic water- or flower-delivery man who accosts celebrities. There is also "Jovan Muskatelle", a shirtless man with a jheri curl and a shower cap. He interrupts live news broadcasts by a reporter (always played by Ike Barinholtz), annoying him with rapid fire accounts of events that have happened frequently exclaiming "It was crazy as hell!"

Celebrities that Key impersonated on the show include Ludacris, Snoop Dogg, Roscoe Orman (as his character Gordon from Sesame Street), Matthew Lillard, Bill Cosby, Al Roker, Terrell Owens, Tyler Perry, Robin Antin, Keith Richards, Eddie Murphy (as his character James "Thunder" Early from the movie Dreamgirls), Sherman Hemsley (as his character George Jefferson on The Jeffersons), Charles Barkley, Sendhil Ramamurthy (as Mohinder Suresh), Tyson Beckford, Seal (originally played by Jordan Peele until Peele left the show at the end of season 13), Sidney Poitier, Lionel Richie, Barack Obama, and Kobe Bryant.

He also played female celebrities, including Phylicia Rashād, and Eva Longoria (as Gabrielle Solis on a Desperate Housewives parody).

Key & PeeleEdit

Key has portrayed and rapped as Indian civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi (left) and American basketball player Michael Jordan (right) for Epic Rap Battles of History.

Key and his former MADtv castmate Jordan Peele starred in their own Comedy Central sketch series Key & Peele, which began airing on January 31, 2012, and ran for five seasons until September 9, 2015.[7] Key and his comedy partner Jordan Peele starred in an episode of Epic Rap Battles of History, with Key playing Mahatma Gandhi and Peele playing Martin Luther King Jr.[8] The pair then returned to Epic Rap Battles of History for the second time in the "Muhammad Ali versus Michael Jordan" battle, with Key portraying Jordan.[9]

In March 2015, it was announced that Key would reprise his role as Mr. Garvey in a feature-length film based on the character portrayed in sketches on the show, while Peele will portray a rival teacher. The film titled Substitute Teacher was written by Rich Talarico and Alex Rubens who are co-producers on the show.[10]

Key was introduced by President Barack Obama at the 2015 White House Correspondents' Dinner as Luther, Obama's Anger Translator, one of Key's characters from the show.[11]

Other workEdit

Key was one of the founders of Hamtramck, Michigan's Planet Ant Theatre, and was a member of the Second City Detroit's mainstage cast before joining the Second City e.t.c. theater in Chicago. Key co-founded the Detroit Creativity Project along with Beth Hagenlocker, Marc Evan Jackson, Margaret Edwartowski, and Larry Joe Campbell.[12] The Detroit Creativity Project teaches students in Detroit improvisation as a way to improve their communication skills. Key performed with The 313, an improv group formed with other members of Second City Hollywood that appears around the country.[13][14] The 313 is made up primarily of former Detroit residents and named for Detroit's area code.[15] Key also hosted Animal Planet's The Planet's Funniest Animals.

He made a cameo in "Weird Al" Yankovic's video "White & Nerdy" with fellow MADtv co-star Jordan Peele.[16] In 2009, Key hosted GSN's "Big Saturday Night", and has co-starred in Gary Unmarried on CBS. Key was a panelist on the NPR comedy quiz show Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me... on March 27 and July 24, 2010. Key has been in several episodes of Reno 911! as the "Theoretical Criminal".

Key and Peele were featured on the cover and in a series of full-page comic photos illustrating The New York Times Magazine article "Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?" on March 31, 2013. A live-action video version was also featured on the Times' website.[17] Key co-stars in the horror-comedy Hell Baby. Key is one of the rotating "fourth chair" performers in the 2013 revival of Whose Line Is It Anyway?.

In addition to Key & Peele, he also is currently co-starring in the USA Network comedy series Playing House, which began airing its first season in April 2014.

Together with his comedy partner Jordan Peele, Key played an FBI agent in a recurring role in the 2014 FX crime drama Fargo.

Key was involved in audio episodes for the marketing campaign, "Hunt the Truth" on the website for the video game Halo 5: Guardians, voicing a fictional journalist and war photographer named Benjamin Giraud, who investigates the Master Chief's background.[18]

Key has had small supporting roles in numerous films, including 2014's Horrible Bosses 2, Let's Be Cops and the animated The Lego Movie, as well as Pitch Perfect 2 and Tomorrowland in 2015. Key and Peele are currently working with Judd Apatow on a feature-length film for Universal Pictures.[19]

Key is currently one of several hosts of the podcast Historically Black by American Public Media and The Washington Post.[20]

Personal lifeEdit

Key married Cynthia Blaise in December 1998.[21] Key filed for divorce on January 1, 2016.



Year Title Role Notes
1999 Get the Hell Out of Hamtown J
2000 Garage: A Rock Saga TV Studio Manager
2003 Uncle Nino Airport Stranger
2004 Mr. 3000 Reporter
2006 Alleyball Curt Braunschweib
2006 Grounds Zero Arch Short film
2007 Sucker For Shelley Michael Short film
2008 Yoga Matt Matt Short film
2008 Role Models Duane
2008 Land of Arabia Dwayne Short film
2010 Welcome to the Jungle Gym Mike McKenzie Short film
2010 Due Date New Father
2011 Just Go with It Ernesto
2011 Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star Guinness Man
2012 Wanderlust Marcys Flunkie
2013 Hell Baby F'Resnel
2013 Afternoon Delight Bo
2014 The Lego Movie Frank the Foreman Voice
2014 Teacher of the Year Ronald Douche
2014 Let's Be Cops Pupa
2014 Horrible Bosses 2 Mike
2015 Pitch Perfect 2[22] Beca's Boss
2015 Welcome to Happiness Proctor
2015 Tomorrowland Hugo Gernsback
2015 Vacation Jack Peterson
2015 Hotel Transylvania 2 Murray the Mummy Voice
2015 Freaks of Nature Mr. Keller
2016 Keanu Clarence/Smoke Dresden Also producer
2016 The Angry Birds Movie Judge Peckinpah Voice
2016 Don't Think Twice Jack
2016 Storks Alpha Wolf Voice
2016 Why Him? Gustav
2017 Win It All Gene
2017 The Star Dave Voice; in production
2018 The Predator Filming


Year Title Role Notes
2001 ER Witkowski Episode: "Quo Vadis?"
2004 I'm With Her Orderly Episode: "Poison Ivy"
2004–2009 MADtv Various 107 episodes; also writer
2005–2008 The Planet's Funniest Animals Host 30 episodes
2007 Frangela DeShawn Television film
2008 Chocolate News Woodsy Episode: "1.5"
2008–2009 Reno 911! Hypothetical Criminal 8 episodes
2010 Sons of Tucson Eric Episode: "Pilot"
2009–2010 Gary Unmarried Curtis 17 episodes
2010–2015 Childrens Hospital Cop / Captain Tripper 3 episodes
2011 A Series of Unfortunate People Ted Episode: "Family Secret"
2011 Love Bites Drew 2 episodes
2011 Wilfred Dick Barbian Episode: "Identity"
2011 The League Steve/Carmenjello Episode: "Carmenjello"
2012–2015 Key & Peele Himself / Various 54 episodes; also co-creator, writer and executive producer
2013–2016 Whose Line is it Anyway? Himself / Fourth Seater 8 episodes
2013 How I Met Your Mother Calvin Episode: "Something New"
2013 Super Fun Night Slade Episode: "Pilot"
2014 The Middle Reverend Deveaux Episode: "Hungry Games"
2014–2015 Parks and Recreation Joe 5 episodes
2014–2016 Bob's Burgers Various Voice
5 episodes
2014–present Playing House Mark Rodriguez 16 episodes
2014 Fargo FBI Special Agent Bill Budge 4 episodes
2014, 2016 Robot Chicken Various Voice
2 episodes
2014–2015 BoJack Horseman Sebastian St. Clair Voice
4 episodes
2014 Hell's Kitchen Himself Season 13 Episode 14: "5 Chefs Compete"
2015 The Hotwives Ace 7 episodes
2015 TripTank King Lhoga Voice
Episode: "Dirty Talk"
2015 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Grant Anderson Episode: "The Gang Goes on Family Fight"
2015 White House Correspondents' Dinner Luther Television special
2015 Rick and Morty Fourth Dimensional Being Voice
Episode: "A Rickle in Time"
2015–present SuperMansion American Ranger Voice
2015 W/ Bob & David Traffic Cop Episode: "Episode 3"
2016 Modern Family Tom Delaney Episode: "Playdates"
2016 Angie Tribeca Helmut Fröntbüt Episode: "Ferret Royale"
2016 The Muppets Himself Episode: "Swine Song"
2016–present Archer Various Voice
6 episodes
2016 House of Lies Devin Townsend Episode: "Johari Window"
2016 American Dad! E-Money Voice
Episode: "Criss-Cross Applesauce: The Ballad of Billy Jesusworth"
2016 Mack & Moxy Admirable Keegan Episode: "Buckle, Buckle, Seatbelts and Chuckle"
2016 Last Week Tonight Crazy Jimmy Episode: "Auto Lending"
2017 The Simpsons Jazzy James Voice
Episode: "The Great Phatsby"
2017 Son of Zorn Grobos the Great Voice
Episode: "All Hail Son of Zorn"
2017 Detroiters Smilin' Jack Episode: "Smilin' Jack"
2017 Samurai Jack Da' Samurai Voice

Episode: "XCVII"

TBA Friends from College Ethan Turner

Music videosEdit

Year Title Role Artist
2006 "White & Nerdy" Black gangster "Weird Al" Yankovic

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Work Result
2013 Writers Guild of America Award[23] Best Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) - Series Key & Peele Nominated
Peabody Award[24]
2014 NAACP Image Award[25] Outstanding Variety – Series or Special Nominated
American Comedy Award[26] Best Alternative Comedy Series Won
Best Comedy Actor – TV Nominated
Best Comedy Writing – TV Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award[27] Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series Nominated
2015 People's Choice Award[28] Favorite Sketch Comedy TV Show Nominated
NAACP Image Award[29] Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award[30] Outstanding Variety Sketch Series Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special Key and Peele Super Bowl Special Nominated
Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program Key & Peele Presents Van and Mike: The Ascension Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Award[31] Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Key & Peele Nominated
2016 NAACP Image Award[32] Outstanding Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series Nominated
Primetime Emmy Award[33] Outstanding Variety Sketch Series Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series Nominated
Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance SuperMansion Nominated


  1. ^ Zadie Smith (February 23, 2015). "Brother from Another Mother". The New Yorker. Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  2. ^ "For Key And Peele, Biracial Roots Bestow Special Comedic 'Power'". December 31, 2013. Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  3. ^ Siek, Stephanie (February 24, 2012). "'Key & Peele': The color of funny". CNN. Retrieved March 3, 2012. 
  4. ^ Patishnock, John (October 9, 2014). "Alum Keegan-Michael Key discusses career, approach to comedy and handling fame". Penn State. Archived from the original on October 21, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2015. 
  5. ^ "YOU MADE IT WEIRD #275: KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY". Nerdist Podcast. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Keegan-Michael Key Has Learned That He And Dwayne McDuffie Were Half Brothers". Bleeding Cool. Retrieved October 9, 2015. 
  7. ^ Sims, David (September 11, 2015). "Goodbye and Thank You, Key & Peele". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 3, 2016. 
  8. ^ Sam Gutelle (September 11, 2015). "Key And Peele Bring Gandhi, MLK To Epic Rap Battles Of History". Tubefilter. Retrieved December 29, 2015. 
  9. ^ "Keegan M Key on ERB for second time" (Twitter post). Twitter. Keegan M Key. November 21, 2013. Retrieved November 25, 2013. We have a new one coming out after Thanksgiving. Muhammad Ali versus Michael Jordan 
  10. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike. "Paramount To Turn Key & Peele's 'Substitute Teacher' Into Feature; Keegan-Michael Key And Jordan Peele To Star". Deadline. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  11. ^ Amy Argetsinger (April 26, 2015). "Watch more of Keegan-Michael Key as 'Luther,' Obama's 'anger translator'". Washington Post. Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  12. ^ Kuras, Amy (April 4, 2012). "Actors Reach Out to Local Teens". Y Community Impact. Retrieved December 25, 2012. 
  13. ^ Calamia, Donald (July 20, 2006). "Detroiter Keegan-Michael is 'key' to The 313". Pride Source. Retrieved December 25, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Schedule announced: Detroit Improv Festival". Encore Michigan. Retrieved December 25, 2012. 
  15. ^ "The 313". SF Sketchfest. Retrieved December 25, 2012. 
  16. ^ School of Theatre (2005). "Penn State Alum, Keegan-Michael Key, Lands Starring Role as Host of Planet's Funniest Animals". Penn State. Archived from the original on November 20, 2007. Retrieved January 17, 2008. 
  17. ^ Streiber, Art (March 27, 2013). "The Saintly Way to Succeed". The New York Times. Retrieved March 30, 2013. 
  18. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (March 23, 2015). "Halo 5 ARG includes Serial-style fictional podcast exposé on Master Chief". Eurogamer. Retrieved March 23, 2015. 
  19. ^ Mike Fleming Jr. (November 13, 2013). "'Key & Peele' Partners Team With Judd Apatow For Universal Pitch Deal". Deadline. Retrieved November 13, 2013. 
  20. ^ "Historically Black Podcast - APM Reports". 
  21. ^ "Keegan-Michael Key files for divorce from wife". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2016-04-20. 
  22. ^ "Anna Camp Reveals Keegan-Michael Key's 'Amazing' Cameo in Pitch Perfect 2". Entertainment Tonight. April 3, 2015. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  23. ^ Mitchell, Gregg; Strell, Jay (December 6, 2012). "2013 Writers Guild Awards Television, News, Radio, Promotional Writing, and Graphic Animation Nominees Announced". Writers Guild of America
  24. ^ "The Peabody Awards". Retrieved May 9, 2016. 
  25. ^ Aaron Couch, Arlene Washington (February 22, 2014). "NAACP Image Awards: The Winners". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 22, 2014. 
  26. ^ "Amy Poehler, Seth Rogen win American Comedy Awards". Entertainment Weekly. May 9, 2014. Retrieved September 26, 2014. 
  27. ^ "2014 Emmy Nominations: 'Breaking Bad,' 'True Detective' Among the Honored". New York Times. July 10, 2014. Retrieved July 10, 2014. 
  28. ^ Toomey, Alyssa (November 4, 2014). "Jennifer Lawrence, Shailene Woodley and Robert Downey Jr. Among People's Choice Nominees, Plus Find Out Who's Hosting!". E! Online. Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
  29. ^ Jue, Teresa (December 9, 2014). "NAACP Image Awards announce nominations for film and TV". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 11, 2014. 
  30. ^ "67th Primetime Emmy Award Nominations" (PDF). Retrieved July 18, 2015. 
  31. ^ "The 22nd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards". Screen Actors Guild Awards. Retrieved February 8, 2016. 
  32. ^ "'Creed,' 'Empire' Top NAACP Image Award Nominations; Full List". The Hollywood Reporter. 4 February 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2016. 
  33. ^ "68th Primetime Emmy Award Nominations" (PDF). Retrieved September 23, 2016. 

External linksEdit