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Key and Peele Bring Comedy Into the Future

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It's still hard for me to believe that we're already a dozen years into the twenty-first millennium. I mean, just look around. We've got Romney and Santorum trying to pull us back into the 1950s while Gingrich dreams of a grand return to the 1850s. If it weren't for a biracial Leader of the Free World and Siri I'd swear we were still stuck in 1997.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. When I was a kid I was sure that by 2012 I'd not only be commuting by jetpack but I'd be commuting by jetpack on Mars.

And the Republican frontrunners, the Manny, Moe and Jack of the GOP, aren't the only ones who still can't wrap their heads around the fact that times have changed. Some self-appointed black cultural gatekeepers are hating on the hilarious and groundbreaking new sketch show Key and Peele as if Sounder was still in the theaters and Roots on TV. Yes, in 2012 somebody actually had the nerve to write, "Key and Peele are Selling Comedy Blacks Aren't Buying," and went on to bloviate, "Blacks will have little use for Key and Peele's brand of comedy." Not only was the guy almost freakishly off-base (the show was an instant hit for Comedy Central and required viewing by every engaged black person I know), he had the nerve to claim to speak for the rest of the almost forty million of us.

Even Jesse and Al at their most demagogic rarely referred to us by the "Royal Ne"(gro). That is seriously old school.

But what the off-base criticism means is that the two comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele and their team of writers have pissed off the remnants of the tired old "positive-image-only" black satire police that I, as a longtime black satirist myself, thought had died out with the high-top fade.

Years ago I invented the term, "Cultural Mulattoes," for artists, actually biracial like Key and Peele, or garden-variety black like myself, who were nevertheless raised to be absolutely fluent in black and white culture. We've always been attacked by the closed-minded on both sides who refuse to understand that although the world itself is not yet "post-racial," popular culture has been so for years.