Keegan-Michael Key didn’t win a statue at the Peabody Awards this year, but he had one of the most important jobs of the night: hosting. The comedian revealed to International Business Times that he takes a few things into consideration when leading an award show.
“The big thing is figuring out the tenor of the event. It’s figuring out what the tone is,” Key told IBT on the red carpet. “So here I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that these stories are — they matter a lot. We don’t want to make light of them, but I want the event to be buoyant. That’s the first thing: figure out tone.”
Serious dramas like “Marvel’s Jessica Jones” and documentaries like “The Jinx” were among those being honored, but the “Keanu” star also pointed out that humor is important. He wanted to keep his comedy subtle at the show, which was held at Cipriani in New York.
“Second thing is, whatever the jokes are, try to make sure that they’re not ham-fisted,” Key explained. “You know what I mean? That they’re not just going ‘and then Trump farted!’ It’s almost like the technique is ‘Can you tell a joke about a person and not use their name in the joke?’ So that everybody in the room goes, ‘Yes, we know who you’re talking about.’ How much anonymity can you put in the joke? And that requires really great writers, which I have.”
Key, who won a Peabody in 2013 for “Key & Peele,” is also aware of his most daunting task: making the ceremony not feel like a three-hour snooze fest. Key emphasized that events like the Peabody Awards are often long, and hosts shouldn’t make the ceremony feel any more drawn-out than necessary.
“I guess the other thing is just making sure that you relax and that you keep it moving. ... An awards show is always going to be — it’s gonna have some expanse no matter what you do,” he laughed. “I gotta make sure I’m not contributing to the expanse, or bad expanse, I should say.”
The Peabody Awards were filmed May 21, but audiences can watch Key host the show when it premieres on Pivot on Monday, June 6, at 8 p.m. EDT.