Kenan Thompson has played a large number of characters during his time appearing in 19 seasons of the sketch comedy series, Saturday Night Live. However, he is most likely commonly known for playing different hosts across various talk and game show parodies. A few examples include emceeing “Black Jeopardy” as well as being Williams’ voice on the iconic children’s television program Sesame Street.
He’ll also star in a brand-new character for his next project: “Kenan Thompson, Emmy host.” The comedian will headline the Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, which is conveniently scheduled to accompany the beginning of his 20th season on “Saturday Night Live” — and the series’ 48th — this fall.
In a recent interview with the LA Times, Thompson said he is looking forward to providing a lot of laughter at the ceremony: “It’s going to be a fun night.” He also spoke about “Saturday Night Live’s” 50th anniversary and his feelings about “Kenan,” his cancelled NBC sitcom that had just two seasons.
Here’s the Interview with the LA Times:
We’ve seen you play a lot of characters, including several show hosts. How are you feeling as you approach doing the actual host thing?
I’m genuinely excited about this project–I have an amazing team supporting me every step of the way. I don’t feel like I’m alone in this venture, and that’s a fantastic feeling.
A few years ago, Michael Che and Colin Jost from “SNL” hosted the Emmys. Have you sought their guidance?
I haven’t spoken with them lately, to be honest. I’m going to be honest — keeping the energy up and delivering a decent monologue will be my strategy. I enjoy paying homage to artistry and innovation.
With awards season in full swing, have you familiarized yourself with all the top contenders?
You would think that I, as a smart host, would be doing that! (laughs) However, I’m just keeping it natural and watching what looks appealing. Although, I really should go down the list and comb through everything so at least then I will know the faces when we run into each other.
What obstacles do you see in undertaking this job?
The hardest part for me is waiting–waiting for the day, waiting for the moment, waiting to hear that first laugh. But once I’m “in it” and performing, everything else comes natural because it’s something I’ve been doing all my life: rehearsals and writing.
Without giving too much away, can you give us any hints on what your stand-up will entail? Will we see any of your “SNL” characters make an appearance?
That’s still a work in progress for me. But right now, I’m going to put out videos and do other stuff with my name on it.
You’re also hosting the new season of “SNL” How do you feel being on the show for such a long time and being one of the most experienced performers?
It’s earned every single time In order to appear innovative, you must find a way to present familiar ideas in a new light.
The telling of each joke has to be earned You must set it up correctly, and it must be amusing on the backend for others to enjoy it.
It’s not enough to just be liked or respected.
What value are you getting from the show?
It’s valuable to be a work-for-hire actor because you have more stability in your career. You’re able to stay in one place, which is convenient if you’re raising kids. I most prize the part of my career that allows me to have this type of lifestyle outside of what “SNL” can provide. It’s constantly changing and provides opportunities to collaborate with other high-level artists and musicians.”
How do you keep your creativity blooming?
I don’t have to do anything The show is a machine It’s a force There’s no better place to be in the city than our performance hall at 11:30 on a Saturday night. Whether or not others find it amusing is a matter of personal taste. But the show’s epicness is one-of-a-kind at any given time. There’s nothing more thrilling than performing something live and it going well, and you know you’re in complete command of it. It’s like, “Wow, I’m at 30 Rock, making this whole room laugh, and possibly the globe.”
Do you have a favorite character?
I’m a huge fan of “What’s up With That?” The host, Diondre Cole, is hilarious. I first thought of Lorenzo McIntosh of “”Scared Straight”” after seeing him in this video. The impressions are amusing: “Family Feud”Family Feud”Black Jeopardy.” are both fantastic. It’s a lot of fun to play generic game show hosts. We eliminate a lot of ideas that don’t work and only focus on what does because it’s more efficient and emotionally satisfying. Possibility is a fleeting thing, like the wind. Though it’s easy to be overwhelmed, try to relish in the small successes. And the little wins are laughs.
The 50th anniversary of “SNL” will come around in a few years. When the milestone is reached, you believe executive producer Lorne Michaels may depart that series.
He has been critical to the success of the show and his dedication is unmatched. He sets the example for others that being an artist matters. His passion for the show is evident, but I wonder if he can keep it up forever. Fifty years is a hell of an achievement for anybody.
What about your future staying with the show?
I keep threatening that they’ll have to kick me out of there at some point. I’ve never been invited back so many times after a breakup. There aren’t any drawbacks, other than being extremely stressful and emotional. It’s preferable to be away from home.
Many people have appeared on the show and then gone on to make movies or television programs.
When the demand for their services is high, they’ll move on. It’s not feasible to do both in terms of scheduling. That’s when individuals make that difficult professional decision. So far, my chances have been reasonable, so I haven’t had to make that call yet.
Of course you had your own sitcom. What did you take away from the experience?
I never felt like I was lacking support from Universal- everyone worked hard and seemed invested in the success of the project. It was a really supportive environment, and even though it didn’t end up being successful numbers-wise, I’m grateful for the lesson learned.
What would make the Emmys a success in your opinion?
Personally, for me, it’s jokes landing. If there’s also a musical number, I need to make sure that goes well too. I just have to do my part.
Timothy is a senior writer based in Atlanta, specializing in celebrity-related news. She is always ready to cover trending TV stories with an unbiased perspective and a pinch of gossip.