Back in 1987, James Brown — possibly drunk, possibly high, possibly just deep in his own mental universe — gave a CNN interview shortly after being accused of assaulting his wife. In in the interview, Brown lapsed in and out of song, attempted to flirt with his interviewer, and generally transformed into a mesmerizing incoherent mess. It’s a deeply, ferociously awkward cultural artifact, and it’s essentially been viral since the inception of YouTube. Jordan Peele, of the comedy duo Key & Peele, has just recreated the interview word-for-word, and he’s done a pretty amazing job at evoking Brown’s extremely specific form of mania. If anything, though, the comedy version is more restrained than the real thing. Peele’s smile is slightly more sane than that of Brown, and the interviewer is a bit less flustered. Watch both the Peele version and the original below.
Journalism has really changed in the past 29 years. For instance, these days, interviews about spousal abuse almost never include questions like, “Why do the women love you?”