Keegan-Michael Key stars as an Al-Qaeda member in the sketch.

Keegan-Michael Key stars as an Al-Qaeda member in the sketch. Comedy Central

Video: Sketch Comedy Show Plays Off Stereotype of TSA Agents as 'Listless'

Key & Peele mock airport security in al Qaeda bit on their show.

Terrorism isn't always a subject for comedy, but angling the comedy toward a series of popular complaints about airport security is ripe for such mocking. Comedy Central duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele took on the topic while lampooning the Transportation Security Administration on a recent episode of their eponymous sketch comedy show.

In the sketch, an al Qaeda meeting takes place in a cave and members are trying to brainstorm ways to hit the United States again. Unfortunately, as one member says, the "cunning and mighty TSA is always one step ahead of us." He then lists two failed plots and how the widely-mocked size restrictions -- specifically, five-inch scissors versus four-inch ones and 3.5 ounces of liquid versus 3.4 ounces -- are the reason the group hasn't succeeded in attacking America.

The satire turns more cutting as the members continue to sing the praises of the TSA, while actually laying out the stereotype many Americans have expressed about TSA agents. One member especially cuts deep to the heart of the joke:

They act as though they are listless, overweight employees who don't give a f***. When in reality, they are an elite force of antiterrorist commandos!

Other members agree with the sentiment and the sketch is full of compliments to the TSA in its efforts against terrorist groups. Lauding the TSA, the sketch lists various things very few Americans would ever say about airport security workers, including:

  • "Prophetic and all-knowing"
  • "It's like they're in our heads"
  • "So clever"
  • "Foiling us at every turn. Devils!"

The sketch plays off the idea that most Americans think the TSA is doing nothing to prevent terrorism and is fighting the proverbial last war in its restrictions on laptops in bags and the sizes of liquids and small, sharp utensils.

The TSA is becoming a comedy staple in the culture at large. Netflix series Orange is the New Black used the agency as a setting for the backstory of character Black Cindy during its second season , showing her as an amorous, irresponsible and thieving TSA agent at a New York airport. Standup comedian Hannibal Burress mocks the TSA on his 2012 album Animal Furnace in a track called "Bomb Water" that discussed the various safety procedures he endures while flying.

The TSA is aware of its reputation, seemingly. While it doesn't acknowledge the jokes on it, the agency regularly updates its blog with photos and descriptions of the hundreds of actually dangerous weapons and goods it confiscates from luggage each year. G uns and huge knives are regularly packed in carry-on baggage, it notes.

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