Kenan Thompson Opens Up About His New Sitcom and the Query of Leaving SNL
After 17 seasons on Saturday Night Live (SNL), Kenan Thompson is starting a chapter in his career.
Thompson, who joined SNL in 2003 and holds the record for longest-serving cast member in the show’s history, has landed his dream gig of starring in his own sitcom. Titled Kenan, Thompson plays an Atlanta-based morning news presenter and a widowed father who is raising two daughters with the help of his little brother, played by SNL actor Chris Redd, and his white father-in-law, played by Don Johnson. Thompson, who has kept his family life largely private, notes the similarities between his character and real life as the father of two young girls and a husband in an interracial marriage.
“I haven’t really whipped up my personal business to super-duper-blast as yet,” said the Emmy Award-winning actor BLACK COMPANY. The only difference is that in reality, “I’m not necessarily in a widow situation. So my wife gave me a weird look like, ‘Yo, are you trying to kill me?’ “
Kenan premieres on NBC on February 16 and marks Thompson’s third attempt at a sitcom. In 2012, he and Bryan Tucker, the SNL writer who helped him develop some of his most famous sketches, including “Black Jeopardy,” collaborated on a series that goes nowhere, Variety reports. The following year he worked with writers from The Mindy Project on a show about a volunteer firefighter that never aired. This isn’t even Thompson’s first engraving in Kenan. In 2019, NBC filmed a pilot that was originally directed by Chris Rock and featured Andy Garcia as Kenan’s father-in-law. However, the show was pushed to the background after network managers discovered it needed more energy and laughs.
“We just leaned into the situation that my wife died a little too badly,” Thompson told Variety. “It’s a lot easier now and that way we can take in the fun. Everyone is aware of the situation, but also tries to keep me on my feet for joy instead of everyone crying together. “
According to Thompson, one of the biggest advantages of the new version of the show is working with his SNL castmate.
“I love working with Chris,” he said. “We just have so much fun living in the moment. We laugh all day even when we’re doing really hard things like dancing around in heavy boots. “
According to Redd, given the ongoing pandemic, Kenan could not have debuted at a better time.
“Comedy has always been a relief from grief for me and for many people. I think that’s why people look to comedy to laugh, and that’s why I came to comedy to work things through, ”says the 35-year-old comedian. “There’s so much heaviness right now that we need some things to get through,” he continued, “or just an escape. And I think we’re getting a lot of that with the show. “
Kenan’s next round
Although Thompson is branching out, the funny guy has no plans to leave SNL anytime soon. Instead, he’s partnered with NBC to balance his schedule between the hit comedy sketch show in New York and his new LA sitcom.
“We’re going to SNL tonight,” Thompson said BE the day before the SNL’s Super Bowl theme aired. We’re going to “do the show tomorrow and (then) go back and come back here to film on Monday,” he said. “It won’t always be that way, but they test the water to see how long it can be like this or if I want to do it that way.”
The 42-year-old former Nickelodeon star admits his record-breaking tenure at SNL is the result of his traditional belief in working for a company, compared to millennials who are most likely to leave their jobs within a few years.
“I have the mentality of holding onto a good job while you have it and then tailoring everything else to it,” he says. “There is no other job like SNL. There is no other job where there is no question that he will come back next season, ”he continued. “You’re holding on to it, and I have been very blessed to be in that situation.”
Instead of leaving, Thompson’s goal is to give the audience another reason to laugh.
“I think we’re doing a good job here getting them tune in weekly just to see if they can catch a moment that will really tickle them almost to death – not to death, but almost.”
Check out the full interview from Thompson and Redd below on The New Norm With Selena Hill, sponsored by UPS. And watch the premiere of #Kenan on Feb 16 at 8: 30/7: 30c on NBC.
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