New Election Year Comedy Central Show Reminds Us Obama is Awesome

The Comedy Central series “Key & Peele” doesn’t debut until Jan. 31, but a sneak peek at their content suggests it’s yet another humor program protecting The One.

“Key & Peele” stars comics Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele in a new sketch comedy series that fills a void left by the old “In Living Color” series. “Saturday Night Live” has featured a mostly white cast for decades, but having two black performers front and center could open up some new comedic possibilities.

But how will the show treat the first black president?

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If this clip is any indication, the answer is – with deference and defense. [warning: offensive language]

The segment involves an “anger translator” who tries to show us Obama is really a cool, powerful leader to be feared. If that were the case, we wouldn’t need a pair of comedians telling us that. The translator also wants Obama’s critics to chill out so he can get some things done. The sketch ends with a litany of “accomplishments” from the last three years, a veritable unpaid political ad gussied up as comedy.

To be fair, Jordan Peele does a solid Obama, nailing his slightly strangled line readings and composure, and Keegan-Michael Key brims with comic brio. But aren’t comedians supposed to mock people in power? Remember how they feasted on President George W. Bush’s malapropisms and President Bill Clinton’s sexual indiscretions?

Wouldn’t the show get a serious promotional bump if they shot out of the gate with a clever but cutting bit involving the president? Instead, we get a segment trying to defuse the silly meme that Obama doesn’t show anger. Aren’t most presidents composed even during tumultuous times?

The last three years have given us cowardly comics who refuse to deliver the kind of satirical shots most presidents endure. “Saturday Night Live” occasionally gets its hands dirty mocking Obama, but they spend far more firepower on his GOP opponents. The most incisive bits have come from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” oddly enough. Meanwhile, the comic paper of record runs cover for Obama.

Let’s hope “Key & Peele” proves conservatives wrong and delivers some smart, sophisticated political humor with bite. Just don’t place any bets on it.