Jordan Peele Comes to Indy

Star of Key & Peele spoke at Butler as part of the school’s Diversity Lecture Series
Fresh off his Emmy win for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series, Jordan Peele, star of Comedy Central’s Key & Peele, came to Clowes Memorial Hall on Monday to discuss politics, humor, and the changing entertainment industry.

Before he took the stage, Peele talked about the current comedy landscape and how his show became such an internet sensation. “All of what I do contains an element of social relevance,” Peele said. “I love projects that feel like they couldn’t have been made two years ago.”

Peele admitted that he and co-star Keegan-Michael Key quickly realized that their Comedy Central show was more of a hit online than it was on television. But considering his full plate of other projects and the crazy amount of work it took to put Key & Peele together, Peele thought it was best to go out on a high note and end the show after the Emmy win. “It was the perfect way to end that experience,” he said.

Now, Peele is ready to make a career shift over to the world of directing. He just finished directing a horror film called Get Out, which deals with the issue of racism. Additionally, he has three television shows in development, one of which is with actor/comedian of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock fame Tracy Morgan.

Despite his busy schedule, Peele arranged to spend some time with Butler students. Although he hasn’t spent a ton of time in Indy, Peele’s mom is a die-hard Colts fan, which, in turn, has made him a Colts fan, he said. On Monday afternoon, Peele stopped by a classroom at Butler to chat with students who were studying humor and politics before he spoke at Clowes. “I’m always interested in learning how young people work,” he said.

During his talk on Monday evening, which was moderated by Fox59’s Kyle Inskeep, Peele was asked his opinion on prominent political figures, many of whom he then impersonated to much applause from the young crowd. Peele gave his best impressions of Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump, among others.

While there was no shortage of laughter throughout the hour Peele spoke, he also touched on a couple of more serious points, which included addressing the Black Lives Matter movement and the racial landscape of Hollywood. “Ten years ago, we would have made sketches with the sole goal being to make people laugh,” he said. Now, Peele has grown a giant following on social media and aims to produce shareable content that’s entertaining, yet also addresses an element of social relevance.

Before wrapping up the discussion, Peele offered some advice to the Millennial audience. “Relish your failures,” he told the crowd. “Those are the things that are going to tell you how to do it right.”

He furthered his advice, saying that college students looking to make it in the entertainment industry shouldn’t let anybody tell them the way it is supposed to happen. “It’s a totally new world and the beautiful thing about it is if you pay attention to what’s going on, the work that you do can evolve into something very new and very fresh,” Peele said.

After speaking, Peele received gifts from Butler’s Black Student Union and from the office of Mayor Joe Hogsett.

Check out the Get Out trailer below.