Biography of Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele is an American comedian, writer, actor, producer and director who was born in Manhattan in 1979. His mother is white and his father is African American. He grew up on the upper west side with his mother. He says he was "a visual artist first as a kid growing up" and then he found performing. He was with a musical theatre group "Tada!" in New York as a kid. He got the acting bug and then wanted to be a director by the time he was 13. He went to the liberal arts college Sarah Lawrence in NYC and chose to major in puppetry. He soon realised that he was more interested in making work with himself at the centre, finding playing a role most comfortable and so starting taking sketch and improvisation seriously. After two years of college he dropped out to form a comedy duo with his friend Rebecca Drysdale and the two moved to Chicago to pursue sketch comedy and improvisation. He joined the group Boom Chicago and worked with the group in Amsterdam.

Peele first met Key when he came over from Amsterdam with his theatre group to Chicago's The Second City, a comedy club, theatre and school of improvisation and then by chance, in 2003, they ended up on MADtv together. Peele joined MADtv for their ninth season in 2003. Peele auditioned for SNL in 2008 when they were looking for someone to play Barak Obama but Fred Armisen got the job. After five seasons with MADtv, Peele left at the end of their 13th season. At this stage Key and Peele had the same manager who suggested they do a show together. And so in 2012 their show "Key and Peele" aired on Comedy Central and ran for five seasons of fifty three episodes, ending in September 2015. Among numerous other roles, Peele would play Obama in Key and Peele.

During this time Peele had spent many years working on the story for the film that would eventually become 'Get Out'. The film was released in 2017 to critical acclaim with Peele credited as writer, producer and director. It grossed over $250 million and was made on a budget of $4.5 million. He is due to produce the supernatural horror HBO series Lovecraft Country.

His first comedy influences were Steve Martin and Martin Lawrence. When asked by Chris Hardwick what advice he would give upcoming artists, he said not to follow the practicality, not to think about what would get sold but to make the movie you with someone would make for you. He said to "follow the fun".


Study Guides on Works by Jordan Peele