the tonight show

That Time Keegan-Michael Key Was Obama’s Anger Translator

Appearing on The Tonight Show to talk with Jimmy Fallon about the impending end of Key and Peele (“We figured we were gonna go the British route, where they do three or four seasons of everything and go, ‘We’re done.’”), Keegan-Michael Key told the story about the time he hung out and rehearsed with Barack Obama.

Obama, a noted Key and Peele fan, had asked Key to reprise the character of Luther, President Obama’s anger translator, for this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. In the act, Luther interprets Obama’s calm demeanor into a more folk-friendly bombast, e.g. turning the president’s “We count on the news to shed light on the most important issues of the day” into “And we can count on Fox News to terrify old white people with some nonsense!” In his appearance on The Tonight Show, Key likened the sensation of Obama making an entrance to “A warm wind, like the Holy Spirit, blow[ing] into the room.” As they met, Obama charged the comedian and embraced him with a big hug. “It was the second-greatest day of my life,” Key said, “because I love my wife so much.” Key was also scared the Secret Service might shoot him. (They didn’t.)

After stressing to Key that this performance was important and they had to take it very seriously, Obama subsequently broke down laughing just two lines into their reading, to which Key responded, “Don’t you f*ck me out there, Barack! You son of a— ”

Key’s performance was well received, even if the old white people at the WHCD didn’t seem to understand the Game of Thrones references. But the highlight of the skit was unquestionably Obama talking about climate change: “Miami floods on a sunny day, and instead of doing anything about it, we got elected officials throwing snowballs in the Senate! It is crazy! What about our kids? What kind of stupid, irresponsible, shortsighted bull— ”

To which Luther quipped, “All due respect, sir, you don’t need an anger translator.”

Keegan-Michael Key on Obama’s Anger Translator