The History of Sketch Comedy
...It’s a rare occasion where the topic of comedy is being explored by people who are genuinely funny. I recommend this gem to everyone who loves comedy.” —MIKE MYERS
From the beginning of time, there have been many important questions that have perplexed the human race, such as: Why are we here? What is the meaning of life?and Who’s on first? Two of these questions might be above their pay grade, but the last one, Elle Key and Keegan-Michael Key both actually know a thing or two about.
Expanding on their Webby-Award-winning podcast, The History of Sketch Comedy is their engaging literary debut. The Keys take you on an illuminating journey through all facets of comedy, from the stock characters of commedia dell’arte in the sixteenth century, the rise of vaudeville and burlesque, and the golden age of television—to the ascension of comedy films and TV specials and even a look at the future of sketch on social media platforms.
Part memoir, part masterclass, and hilariously embellished with priceless commentary, The History of Sketch Comedy highlights the essential building blocks of sketch comedy while interweaving Keegan's personal career journey and the influence of his comedy heroes. With original exclusive essays compiled from conversations with influential performers, sketch writers, and uber comedy fans including Mel Brooks, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Mike Myers, Chris Rock, John Oliver, Tracy Morgan, Carol Burnett, Jim Carrey, Jordan Peele, and many more; this book is as entertaining as it is enlightening—a must read for fans of comedy and all who aspire to comic greatness.
KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning actor, writer, and producer. Keegan is perhaps best known for starring alongside Jordan Peele in their multiple-award-winning show Key & Peele. His other credits include Apple TV+’s Emmy-nominated Schmigadoon!, Netflix’s The Prom, the Critic’s Choice-nominated Reboot on Hulu, and starring alongside Timothée Chalamet in the Warner Brother’s feature Wonka. His voicework in animated features includes The Lion King, Toy Story 4, and The Super Mario Brothers Movie. He made his off-Broadway debut in Hamlet with Oscar Isaac, and his Broadway debut in Steve Martin’s Meteor Shower with Amy Schumer. Keegan redefines what it means to be a multi-hyphenate in the worlds of film, television, and theater, and his wildly varied and indelible performances have won him fans of all ages and backgrounds.
ELLE KEY is an award-winning film, television, and commercial director, writer, and producer. She was born in New York City and spent her early years working off-Broadway with theater companies such as Malaparte, Naked Angels, and the Atlantic. Early in her career she produced a number of independent feature films including Nanette Burstein’s Sundance award-winning documentary American Teen, August with Josh Hartnett, Naomi Harris, and David Bowie, and was a second unit producer on Doug Liman’s Fair Game with Sean Penn and Naomi Watts. She is the co-president and founder of Bigger Picture Media Group and has been writing and directing with, and for, her partner Keegan-Michael Key for almost a decade. She has written and directed numerous commercial campaigns as well as several projects for the NFL, the Pro-Bowl, the Peabody Awards, the Gotham Awards, and she was the first female head writer for The NFL Honors. She was an executive producer on Brain Games for Disney/Nat Geo, as well as an executive producer with James Corden for Game On! for CBS. She is a member of the Creative Coalition, Women in Film, and is on the Leadership Council of RFK Human Rights. In 2022, Elle won the People’s Voice Webby Award for Best Writing for her original Audible series The History of Sketch Comedy.
“Elle and Keegan’s collaboration is such a joy to read. It’s a rare occasion where the topic of comedy is being explored by people who are genuinely funny. I recommend this gem to everyone who loves comedy.” —MIKE MYERS
“Elle and Keegan unlock the secrets of comedy from the beginning of history all the way up to present day. Whether you are a working actor or just a student of the game . . . you will love this book!” —JACK BLACK
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