These Nuts – Key & Peele
A man confronts a colleague.
It’s about his troubling reliance on a terrible joke.
What is the deeper meaning behind the “These Nuts” prank calls in Key & Peele’s sketch comedy series?
These Nuts: A Satirical Take on Race and Language by Key & Peele
In their sketch comedy series, Key & Peele, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele frequently use humor and satire to explore issues of race and identity in America. One particularly memorable sketch is “These Nuts,” a prank call bit that plays with the idea of coded language and racial slurs.
The sketch begins with Key and Peele making a series of phone calls to different businesses, asking innocuous questions about purchasing items like apples or pens. But each time the person on the other end of the line says “what?” or “excuse me?” after Key or Peele mention the item they’re interested in buying, the comedians respond with a different phrase: “these nuts.” So when a store employee asks “apples for what?” Key replies “apples, these nuts.” And when a waitress at a diner asks Peele to repeat his request for a pen, he responds “pen, these nuts.”
At first, the sketch seems like a silly bit of nonsense. But as it goes on, it becomes clear that there’s a deeper meaning behind the prank calls. When Key and Peele start to target people of different races, the language they use changes. In one call, they speak to a woman who has an Asian-sounding name, and when she asks what they’re calling about, Key responds with “these egg rolls.” In another, they talk to a man with an African-sounding name, and the phrase changes to “these Africa nuts.”
These substitutions are subtle, but they play on the idea of coded language and how words can have different meanings for different people. By using these phrases, Key and Peele are referencing the ways in which racial slurs and stereotypes have been used to dehumanize people of different backgrounds. But they’re also using humor to subvert those negative associations and reclaim the language for their own purposes.
The “These Nuts” sketch is a great example of Key & Peele’s approach to comedy. They use absurdity and satire to explore complex issues, but never lose sight of the fact that they’re there to make people laugh. By taking on topics like race and identity, they’re able to bring these conversations into the mainstream and encourage audiences to think critically about the world around them. And by doing so with such wit and charm, they’re able to make us all laugh along the way.