Kenan Thompson on Trying Something New With Kenan and Moving On from Saturday Night Live


There are good signs that Thompson might have to make that decision relatively soon. Kenan, on which he plays a TV anchor and widower raising his two kids, premiered to strong ratings last week, becoming the No. 2 new series debut for the 2020—2021 season with four million viewers. Young Rock, Kenan’s lead-in, is No. 1. 

“How can you lose, piggybacking with The Rock?” Thompson quips. “That guy can carry anybody.” 

Truth be told, Thompson doesn’t need anybody to carry him. He’s one of the most beloved Saturday Night Live cast members, and before that, he was a beloved star of All ThatKenan and Kel and Good Burger. He’s been entertaining in front of a live audience for decades, and the single-cam, no-audience comedy required for Kenan is something new for him. 

“It was a bit of an adjustment to try to be OK with knowing that we have what we were looking for somewhere in one of the shots. You gotta believe in the editing room a little bit and let it go, which is really hard,” he says. “We’re doing it in silence. The crew is chuckling, but they’re not really allowed to laugh out loud. We’re kind of going on instinct.” 

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