Key & Peele, the Comedy Central sketch show entering its fourth season, just premiered a new skit satirizing the classic '90s sitcom Family Matters. In the sketch, set in 1997, actor Reginald VelJohnson faces off with an ABC development executive. In costume as Carl Winslow, Reginald laments Steve Urkel's increased role in the show at the expense of other cast members, after lackluster ratings threatened its first season. The confrontation spirals out of control when Steve shows up, and the sketch ends with a near-suicide, thwarted by Urkel's mercy.
The skit it funny enough, and Jordan Peele does a great Carl, but the whole thing looks awfully familiar. Earlier this year, comedy duo Kenny and Keith Lucas, known as the Lucas Brothers, previewed another Family Matters sketch, taken from their upcoming TruTV series Friends of the People. In that one, during a 1989 boardroom meeting at ABC, a roundtable of executives conceive of the Steve Urkel character as a joke in response to impending cancellation, then Urkel ends up saving the show. The creators come to hate their own series, and pitch more and more absurd situations—Stephan Urquelle, Myrtle Urkel, Urkelbot—in hopes of getting cancelled, only to have the show grow each year. It ends with the group attempting a mass suicide, which is thwarted by Urkel.
This could very well be an elaborate coincidence, but there are marked similarities between the sketches, and the Lucas Brothers clip has been in circulation since at least July. Both sketches describe the original Family Matters concept as "the next Cosby Show," feature a semi-psychotic Urkel drunk with power, and reference specific Family Matters episodes in detail.
The Lucas Brothers, of course, are much less known than Key & Peele. They starred in a criminally slept-on animated late night series, The Lucas Bros. Moving Company, and had a decent role in the movie 22 Jump Street this summer. For my money, Kenny and Keith's send-up wins for their authentic recreation of the Urkelbot costume, which gave me nightmares as a child but was comedic gold in hindsight. Either way, we're glad to spend this Friday afternoon engrossed in Urkel nostalgia instead of doing real work, and will be tuning in when Friends of the People premieres on October 28th at 10:30pm. Key & Peele reps couldn't be reached for comment.