Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Keegan-Michael Key (Inset: Conan)
Keegan-Michael Key (Inset: Conan)
Screenshot: Conan

Celebrities—they’re just like us! In that they’re also going incrementally bananas in socially responsible coronavirus lockdown and coming up with increasingly creative—not to say bananas—ways to pass the time until we can get within a Conan O’Brien’s-length of each other. And, sure, most famous people are waiting things out in more luxurious and spacious homes than the rest of us, but that doesn’t mean they can’t go a little stir crazy, too. Luckily for us, though, noted hilarious person Keegan-Michael Key has turned his COVID-19 self-quarantine into a mini film school, and, on Tuesday’s Conan, showed just what a world-class improviser with far too much time on his hands can do.

First up, Key explained to Conan that his homebound project to fill in gaps in his movie knowledge isn’t some artsy deep dive into the all-time classics as ordained by, say, Cahiers du cinéma. Key admitted that he was the guy more likely to head off to a college double feature of My Beautiful Laundrette and The Unbearable Lightness Of Being than check out Dirty Dancing. Instead, Key’s been bingeing all of the American pop cultural touchstones he inexplicably missed while studying acting and world cinema, a project that’s already borne entertaining results when he recently accepted his wife’s challenge to recap first-time watch Aliens in one minute. And while some may find Key’s list of films he’s only now getting around to (Air Force One, American Pie, Analyze This—apparently, he’s taking them down alphabetically) inexplicable, at least he and his writer-director spouse Elisa Pugliese are putting their currently shelved talents to work in amusing each other—and Conan.

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With O’Brien exploding at Key’s revelation that the actor had never until this week seen global phenomenon (of a quarter-century ago) Titanic, Key readily accepted Conan’s challenge to work his improvisational magic on a one-minute “CliffsNotes version” of James Cameron’s Oscar-strewn historical romance-disaster epic (running time 3 hours, 15 minutes). While Conan fumbled at his cell phone’s stopwatch feature, Key limbered up in actorly improv anticipation until Conan shouted “Go!” Then it was off to the iceberg-littered races, with Key’s mind plucking out strategic highlights (sex in a car on a boat, Billy Zane being a dick, Irish jigs, never letting go, Celine Dion) as he head-counted the ticking seconds. Did he make it? Well, Conan doesn’t know how to properly work his phone, but, yeah. Key, out.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.

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