I’m sure the name Jordan Peele is recognizable for one of two reasons: either from his writing/directing of Get Out or being one half of the comedy duo Key and Peele. Peele is known for both his fun, zany characters in comedy series’ and movies, and as the director for some of the best horror movies of this century. For the last week of Black History Month we’re going to pay honor to actor/director/writer/producer Jordan Peele.
Peele was born and raised in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He studied at Sarah Lawrence University for two years before pursuing a career in comedy with fellow Sarah Lawrence student Rebecca Drysdale. He performed at Boom Chicago and in Second City, before getting his big break in 2003.
Mad TV and Key and Peele
That year, Peele joined the cast of MadTV. He became known for doing character impersonations such as Big Bird and Morgan Freeman. In 2008 he left the show to create the series Key and Peele with fellow cast member Keegan Michael Key. The show ran for 5 seasons from 2012-2015 and was successful, garnering two Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. During the show, he also appeared in Adult Swim’s Children’s Hospital and the FX series Fargo. After the show ended Key and Peele created the movie Keanu, which was a send-off to the series and also served as one of the actor’s last comedic performances.
Peele went on to become one of the most influential directors of the 21st century. His first film, Get Out, was a game changer. The genre of “woke horror” or “social thriller” was created after this film. The term is used to describe films that use horror techniques to highlight themes of oppression. Of course there were “woke” horror films beforehand, Night of the Living Dead being the perfect example; it featured a black male in the role of a hero. But Get Out was what caused woke horror to become a genre, as since the film’s release there have been a number of films in this subgenre, such as Sorry to Bother You and Antebellum.
Get Out was an excellent movie. I watched the movie in a High School class during a time where I would get maybe three to four hours of sleep a night. Yet I still remember the film clearly, and went home thinking about it. And this was Peele’s directorial debut. Us, his next film, was also excellent, as shown in my review here: Us: The Best Movie Theatre Experience I’ve had. – Comic Watch (comic-watch.com).
In 2012 Peele created the production company: Monkeypaw Productions, with the name coming from the 1902 horror story: “The Monkey’s Paw.” Through this, Peele produced most of the series’ and movies previously discussed, including Key and Peele, Get Out, and Us. He also produced Spike Lee’s BlackKklansmen, The Twilight Zone’s most recent reboot, and HBO’s newest hit: Lovecraft Country. He also co-created and produced the highly underrated The Last O.G.
From his comedic work to his directing, Peele is clearly a multi-talented guy. With more projects coming out, it’ll be interesting to see where his career goes from here. Hopefully he’ll be able to come out with more incredible films like Get Out and Us. Only time will tell.
Jordan Peele: From Actor to Auteur
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