Check Out This Obscure, Somewhat Embarrassing 1996 Short Film Starring Key From ‘Key And Peele’

This 1996 short film, ‘Billy Yellowcorn’ only has 26 views as of this writing, which is a crime, as it represents some rare, early work by ‘Key and Peele’ star Keegan Michael Key (shot when he would’ve been 25, according to Wikipedia). It’s basically a one-act, one-location story about Key (Billy Yellowcorn, presumably) making a tape recording to explain to his mom why he’s leaving the city (Detroit, I think) so he can go live with his father and learn how to be an Indian. It’s amazing that Key can do a damn solid acting job in a passionately-written film that still manages to remind you of every student film you’ve ever seen and/or made. It’s hilarious because it feels so familiar. I mean really, aren’t we all Billy Yellowcorn?

A couple of my favorite lines:

– “Them eyes know what it means to be Indian. I got his face but I don’t have those eyes! I gotta be with him so I can learn how to see.”

– “This city ain’t no place for an Indian, ma.”

– “I guess she thought if she could suck my pipeline long enough, she’d find her soul.”

– “And the salmon… he just stares at me. Like he knew me. It was dad, ma.”

It really has everything – Father angst. Racial angst. Sexual angst. Cancer angst. Salmon angst. Excessive cigarette smoking and beer drinking. And it ends with SPOILER ALERT…. a suicide. What is it about student films that half of them are always about suicide or involve a suicide note? I think I personally worked on at least three when I was a film major. This is so student film. It should be shown to film students in every film class to teach them just how student film a student film can be.

“This city ain’t no place for an Indian, ma” is my new email sign off.