“Negrotown” is a five-minute clip created by comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele for their television show Key & Peele on Comedy Central. Key & Peele uses satire, comedy, and popular culture in order to address current social issues, especially about race, gender, and ethnicity. “Negrotown” premiered on their show in September 2015 in their final episode. The sketch begins with Key walking down a dimly lit alleyway while suspenseful piano music plays in the background. A white police officer pulls up in his vehicle and tells Key, an African-American man, to “hold it right there.” The two get into a verbal disagreement about what Key did to deserve being stopped by the police officer. Angered, the officer forcefully hits Key’s head into the police cruiser. After this, a homeless-looking man approaches Key and the two African-American men walk down the dark alley together, which ultimately leads into a bright magical portal that transports them to “Negrotown,” a “utopia for black people.” Here, the man who once looked homeless is dressed in a bright pink suit and joyfully sings about the positive aspects of Negrotown. A chorus of people recite lyrics about Negrotown having no “trigger-happy cops,” no white people “stealing your culture and thinking it’s theirs,” and no people making you their “token black friend.” In short, Negrotown is a place where African-Americans do not face any racial prejudice or discrimination which occurs in the outside world. After the song and dance about Negrotown is over, the clip goes back to the same back alley and we see Key laying on the ground, forced to face reality again. The police officer asks him to get up. Key looks at him surprised, stating, “I thought I was going to Negrotown.” The officer answers, “You are.”
This clip addresses a wide variety of racial issues, what are some that were discussed? What impact do these problems have on our society?
Why did Key and Peele decide to approach these issues by using a fictional utopia? How does this skit use satire and storytelling to combat racial prejudice and discrimination?
Did you notice any issues about gender inequality that were brought up by the African-American women in the clip? How did the topics addressed by them show the importance of gender?
What does the police officer mean when he replies to Key that he is, in fact, going to “Negrotown”? What does this say about the society outside of “Negrotown”?