Screens: Cartoon Network; Comedy Central

Battle Of The Jazz Fights

Bloop! Squonk! Tweeeeeee! Between Key & Peele and Home Movies, who had the best scat fight of all time?

As you may have heard, Key & Peele had a sketch last night in which laughter was mined from that most common and ordinary of situations: two jazz singers scatting at each other. But this was actually not the first time that jazz singing had been made palatable for television via dueling scat stylists. Of course, I refer to the "Hiatus" episode of Home Movies, which people who like Bob's Burgers should really check out. It's a Loren Bouchard show with H. Jon Benjamin! And also Brendon Small, who went on to do Metalocalypse. I'm assuming you already know who Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are.

Who did it first?

Key & Peele did their sketch last night, December 3, 2014.

The Home Movies episode was slightly earlier, airing on January 20, 2002.

Winner: Home Movies

Which justifies the scat better?

You can't just start scatting at someone, even in today's morally bankrupt society. The Key & Peele premise is very straightforward: two scat singers in a performance of scat singing start singing scat. No one can argue with it. On Home Movies, the children are making a movie, and in that movie, there's a divorce going on and that leads to a swordfight and that leads to the scat. There's no denying that it gets a little complicated.

Winner: Key & Peele

Which show's performers scat better?

Honestly, it's kind of even at first. Key & Peele appear to have hired an actual jazz combo to back them up, so they sound quite plausible. Home Movies gets good work out of H. Jon Benjamin's nasal voice as Jason, and Brendon Small (as...Brendon) knows what he's doing musically. But then Key & Peele breaks out its secret weapon. Did you know that Retta is an actual opera singer? So she's slumming a bit here, but she still elevates the musical component considerably. Plus, even the characters in Home Movies don't like their own work, deeming it "an alternative to good."

Winner: Key & Peele

Which has bigger stakes?

Both pairs of jazz duelists are fighting over a woman, so this question is really asking which one is better. As far as we can judge from the dialogue of the movie-within-the-show, Melissa was apparently playing a lawyer with somewhat shaky ethics. That's pretty good, but it doesn't really stack up against Retta. Anyone would go to their last nonsense syllable for her.

Winner: Key & Peele

Who makes funnier noises?

There's nothing wrong with scatting about a face that looks like poop from a butt (scatting about scat, if you will), but I've had "honkey-doodly-honkey-doodly-doo" stuck in my head for eleven years.

Winner: Home Movies

Verdict

The Home Movies jazz fight is played for laughs, and it gets them. But Key & Peele get their laughs while also delivering a solid jazz performance. I assume. I mean, I've never been to a jazz club in my life, but I assume this is what it's like. Also there are anthropomorphic camels shooting pool in the back.

Winner: Key & Peele

Discussion

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