Key is a sketch legend, the first MADtv alum to host Saturday Night Live who went on to star in Key and Peele. So it was surprising that his SNL episode would be so disappointing. "Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele were masterful at servicing a comic premise in just the right way," Dennis Perkins says of Key and Peele. "The best sketch comedy doesn’t fit a premise into an existing template, but fashions the form to the idea’s singular needs, and Key and Peele were great at it. Saturday Night Live, on the other hand, is all about templates. For better or worse, the show’s rigidity when it comes to sketch variety (as opposed to variety show sketches) is what props this near half-century institution up. We didn’t get a game show or talk show sketch tonight, but the graduation and commencement sketches had plenty of tonal and structural antecedents, while the Broadway sketch once more planted Mikey Day in the wings to comment on the wacky and forgetful antics of old troupers Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, and Key while shaking his head and protesting like the world’s dullest substitute teacher. (Seriously, is Day writing himself these parts, or is this some sort of extended hazing?) Even Key’s monologue, framed around the longtime fan’s desire to 'do every single SNL thing tonight,' felt threadbare. The tune (because doing a musical monologue is another dusty Saturday Night Live standard) limply recalled Steve Martin’s legendary song-and-dance opener, the mid-song Q&A was another self-referentially hacky SNL cliché that couldn’t escape being a cliché, and the cast cameos at least gave us Cecily Strong, Kenan (not Keegan), and Keegan belting out a number, which was nice." Perkins also points out Key starred in the 2016 film Don't Think Twice, playing a sketch performer who lands on an SNL-type series titled 'Weekend Live.' "There, Key’s Jack is clearly held up as a sell-out, shoehorning his expansive talents into 'Weekend Live’s' restrictive, competitive, talent- and joke-vacuuming confines, a portrayal that must have come up during show week," says Perkins. "(Not to mention the film’s depiction of 'Weekend Live’s' remote and manipulative executive producer/self-impressed TV legend.) I guess it was optimistic to imagine that that comic tension might creep into the show proper. But stylistically experimentation has never really been
'Weekend Live' Saturday Night Live’s jam."