Friday, December 3, 2021

Keenan Thompson: ‘You Can Thank Me for Leslie Jones’

*Kenan Thompson is set to kick off his 16th “Saturday Night Live” season Sept. 29, after becoming the show’s longest-running cast member last year.

As noted by Rolling Stone, he broke out in 2009 with “What Up With That?” based on a character he created. Thompson also scored his first Emmy nomination as a performer in July and recently won a Creative Arts Emmy for the sketch “Come Back, Barack,” which starred Chance the Rapper.

His SNL co-star Leslie Jones took to Twitter to congratulate her “Brother” on the win, writing: “I’m in full on tears right now. My brother in this game just won his first Emmy! You guys don’t understand how much I love this dude. And how much he deserves this!! So proud of you my friend, my colleague, my Brother!! Love  you.”

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Despre his massive success, Thompson says longevity was never a plan. 

“By Season 10,” Thompson says, “I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m here. I’ll be here next year. And we’ll see where this whole thing takes me…’ Andy [Samberg] left to ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine,’ Fred [Armisen] left to ‘Portlandia,’ Kristen [Wiig], Bill [Hader] and [Jason] Sudeikis left to movies. Everybody else left to a job. That’s what I was waiting on, and then all of a sudden I was in year 13.”

When he started at “SNL,” Thompson was one of two black cast members, and he had a lot to learn about  “white” office culture “to catch the references flying over my head,” he says.

“I’m like, ‘Who is Yes? What the f–k is a Starship Trooper? The movie? No, the Yes song!’ ”

Since then, “the show has come to him a bit more,” says “SNL” co-head writer Bryan Tucker.

“He and I are really glad we can do ‘Black Jeopardy,’ where we have four black cast members and it’s not a problem.”

Thompson also “indirectly” helped push forward the process of finding black female performers for the show in 2013, when he caught flack for saying SNL “never find ones that are ready” during the auditions.

When folks thought he was dissing black female comedians, he noted: “Come on, I would never do my sisters like that.”

But the furor led to midseason auditions, the report states… where Ms. Jones was discovered.

“You can thank me for Leslie Jones,” he says. “I’m thankful for her too! That’s my buddy.”

 

 

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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