At first glance, it’s difficult to understand why everyone raves about the Clermont Lounge. It would be incredibly easy to confuse this popular bar for a dilapidated building — the bricks were fading and the windows were boarded up or missing altogether.
The smell of stale smoke greets visitors even before they step foot into the dimly lit venue where several other amateur journalists and photographers were eagerly awaiting the exclusive meet-and-greet with popular comedy duo Key and Peele, along with Wu-Tang clan member Method Man and Jason Mitchell from “Straight Outta Compton,” about their brand new feature film, “Keanu.”
The club was small and allowed for a surprisingly intimate setting which fostered deep conversation about the upcoming comedy movie.
Key and Peele, known popularly for their sketches on Comedy Central, always dreamed to make it on to the big screen. But admitted that the experience was very different than writing for television.
“It becomes a plot issue,” said Key, “With a sketch, sometimes sketches have plots and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes a sketch is ‘let’s screw around and get out in three minutes.’”
Following the standard introductory questions, the cast began to delve deep about the role of comedy has changed throughout the years. Key began, “The question is when people decided if we just act goofy all the time it’ll be fine. It’s like, no no no … The story has to be intact. My thing is that if you’re trying to make some kind of social statement, you have to do it through a story. You don’t want people making speeches in the middle of a movie. Does our movie make social statements? Yes, it does.”
Peele went on to add, “We like to steer into difficult areas …Then we bring comedy into it, and it helps promote conversation about these things … It gives people a little bit of a release. Obviously we’re making a movie that deals with an epidemic of crime, of black-on-black crime, the stereotypes in Hollywood.”
Key continued, “What does it mean to be black? Am I less black than you are? We’re starting to deconstruct the word ‘black’ … Are you blacker because you’re poorer, or blacker because you’re richer? And I think that’s something we’ve always explored in the show: the African-American experience is not a monolith, it’s a mosaic.”
This then led to a question about the commentary the film made the black experience in America to which Mitchell answered, “For me, it shows the same race in different forms of culture. [Keanu] has a lot of juxtaposition in it, but none of it is about race. And I think it’s good … People will try to use [race] as a crutch instead of using as a way to empower themselves … [Keanu] shows both worlds.”
Method followed, “It shows different kinds of black … if you’re not hood enough, you’re not black enough … There is a line in the sand where there’s these kinds of blacks and those kinds of blacks, and both sides think the other isn’t black enough.”
It was clear that this movie is more than just a comedy and is worth watching, but Key and Peele continued to make a convincing argument.
Peele started off jokingly saying, “…this movie is crazy, first of all, if you partake in the smoky, smoky treats you should get in the front row. If you don’t it’ll still take you through; it’s got heart.”
He continued, “We made our favorite movie … we put everything into this.”
Key went on to add, “You’re not gonna see a movie like this … You’ll get everything you need to get out of the cinematic experience, but it’s also branded so differently than anything you’ve ever seen. You can go see another movie that’s paint-by-numbers by a studio, or you can see our movie, which has a different feel to it, I guarantee it.”
Keanu comes out in theaters on Apr. 29.