Like his stand-up, Chappelle’s race humor came from a preternaturally confident understanding of how the world really works and his place in it. He tells it like it is, even if its uncomfortable to hear. Especially if it’s uncomfortable to hear. His infamous weed habit, in this context, is a self-medicating way of dealing with the humor and the harshness of reality. Key & Peele, however, mine much of their race humor from the insecurity of questioning their place in the world. It’s not a shame of Blackness; it’s a perpetual wondering if their backgrounds and personalities cultivate doubts of their authenticity, and finding the humor in their attempts to quell that (mostly) non-existent intra-racial cynicism. The Chappelle Show dealt with what was happening in the world. Key & Peeledealt with what was happening in their own heads.

No skit better exemplifies this internal pressure to perform Blackness than “Soul Food” — which also happened to be the first Key & Peele bit I’d ever seen. Chappelle would never, ever, ever do something like this, because it just wasn’t and isn’t a part of his relationship with the world and with being Black. (This, btw, doesn’t make Key & Peele or their comedy any less Black than Chappelle’s. It’s just covering the same cavernous and limitless topic from a different perspective.)


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Ernie @ Kinja

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