Jordan Peele in 2003

The Reader‘s archive is vast and varied, going back to 1971. Every day in Archive Dive, we’ll dig through and bring up some finds.

Jordan Peele is an Oscar-winning screenwriter now and Get Out, which he also directed, will probably be considered a classic and studied in film and history classes a couple of decades from now, but back in 2000, Peele was just another struggling comedian in Chicago. Does that give you hope?

His partner at the time was his former college roommate Rebecca Drysdale, and they performed together at ImprovOlympic—as iO was then known—as Two White Guys. Their act was to pretend to be a couple of TV addicts who had somehow landed onstage. And it wasn’t bad!

“What really makes 2 White Guys stand out from the crowd is how well they play to each other’s strengths,” Nick Green wrote in April 2000. “Peele employs a broad range of accents and facial expressions to create his characters, while the diminutive Drysdale throws herself into her roles with a manic energy.”

Later that summer, Lawrence Bommer wrote a slightly longer and more descriptive review of their act:

When not spoofing channel surfing (a too frequent target), the Two White Guys’ skits are decidedly better than the boob tube. In one overlong but fully focused bit, geezers on a porch agonize over the astonishing sight of a total stranger. A sensitivity session on diversity complete with charts seems to threaten political correctness, but a wry twist turns it toward tolerance. . . . Drysdale’s scatological pep talk about the virtues of “shit pride” is delivered with anal-expulsive gusto, and Peele brings phony B-movie intensity to a navy commando confronted with his most dangerous assignment yet: forcing laughs from strangers. It’s not all LOL, but with its deft identity switches and creative confusion, this show is more original than the rest of the nightlife in Wrigleyville.