Keegan-Michael Key, initially a mainstay of the Detroit Second City stage, moved to the Chicago stage in 2001, and proceeded to write for and star in MADtv and Key & Peele. Throughout his career, he has played supporting roles in multiple acclaimed television comedies, such as Parks and Recreation, Bob’s Burgers, Modern Family, and many more. He has also appeared in a variety of films. His work has garnered him ten Primetime Emmy nominations, with one win, along with a Peabody Award and two Jeff Awards for his time at The Second City.
Key studied dramatic arts early in his life, earning a Master of Fine Arts in Theater, though he did perform improv during college. When he went back to Detroit to act in a friend’s film, he began to take classes at the Second City Detroit. Eventually, he was hired to perform with the company in 1997, starring in eight revues. Key acted alongside fellow comedians Maribeth Monroe, Marc Evan Jackson, Nyima Funk, and Larry Joe Campbell during his tenure in Detroit. In 2001, Key began working on the e.t.c. stage in Chicago, and starred in three revues, “Holy War, Batman! Or the Yellow Cab of Courage”, “Curious George Goes to War”, and “Pants on Fire”. Fellow cast mates included T.J. Jagadowski, Jack McBrayer, and Peter Grosz. He was nominated for a Jeff Award for Actor in a Revue for all three, and won for “Curious George” and “Holy War, Batman!”.
While at The Second City, Key was hired as a member of MADtv, where he met his future comedy partner, Jordan Peele. While on MADtv, he played several characters, from Coach Hines to Eugene Struthers. He performed impressions of Ludacris, Eddie Murphy, Kobe Bryant, Lionel Richie, and many more. After MADtv, Key and Peele created and starred in a sketch comedy show, Key & Peele. Both actors rose to prominence from the show, and in 2014, they won a Peabody Award for their work. Key has been nominated for ten Emmy’s for both acting and writing on Key & Peele, and won Outstanding Variety Sketch Series in 2016.
Other than his work on MADtv and Key & Peele, Key has had supporting roles in a variety of television shows and films. He’s had recurring roles on shows such as Reno 911!, Children’s Hospital, Whose Line is it Anyway?, Parks and Recreation, Bob’s Burgers, Fargo, BoJack Horseman, Archer, and more. Films that he has acted in include Role Models, Wanderlust, Horrible Bosses 2, Don’t Think Twice, and more. Key has acted alongside many Second City-alum, including Amy Poehler, Jason Sudeikis, and Alan Alda.
1998: Greetings From Viagra Falls, Detroit Mainstage
1998-1999: Daimlers Are a Girl’s Best Friend, Detroit Mainstage
1999: Impeachment and Cream, Detroit Mainstage
1999: Phantom Menace to Society, Detroit Mainstage
2000: Paradigm Lost, Detroit Mainstage
2000: Gratiot Happens, Detroit Mainstage
2000: 19th Nervous Breakdown, Detroit Mainstage
2001: Ebay of Pigs, Detroit Mainstage
2001-2002: Holy War, Batman! Or the Yellow Cab of Courage, e.t.c. Theater, Chicago
2002-2003: Curious George Goes to War, e.t.c. Theater, Chicago
2003-2004: Pants on Fire, e.t.c. Theater, Chicago
Curious George Goes To War