Kenan Thompson preps for 13th season with 'SNL,' may teach at your school

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Atlanta native Kenan Thompson is now the third longest running cast member of 'Saturday Night Live" entering his 13th season. If he completes the season, which begins October 3, Thompson will be tied with Seth Meyers for the second-longest run, behind only Darrell Hammond's 14 years.

In an interview last week, Thompson wouldn't say whether this would be his final season. (There were rumors that last season would be his last year but he committed to another year.)

"I'm not focused on that," he said. "Just doing shows. So much goes into them. It's hard to think of the ending."

Addressing his longevity, he said, "I'm good at my job. I don't know. I'm likable, I guess. We have a lot of fun. I like what I'm doing."

And he likes who he's working with now as well. "We're under such pressure and scrutiny," he said. "It's more supportive and loving these days. We had a reputation of people wanting to be the stars more than others. It's not so much anymore. As far as we're concerned, we're just family."

He is working with Xfinity and NBCUniversal in a contest to "teach" a class at a university that votes for him to come. (Vote here.) Deadline is September 28 and you can vote every day.

Thompson has no plans to teach nuclear physics or 19th century French literature. "I'll just talk about myself," he said.

His college experience was two and a half years of community college. "They told me I was a freshman because I kept dropping out of classes," he said. If he were to go back to school at one point, he'd be interested in business. "Wall Street has intrigued me lately. I want to know more about it."

Thompson, when he does finally leave, wants to do more producing and creating projects with other people.

I last talked to Thompson in 2012 when he did a show at Ferst. "My dad was in the audience," he said. "My sister was there. It was cool."

Married to model Christina Evangeline at the Georgia Aquarium in 2011, he said his mother is annoyed he hasn't been to Atlanta lately. He hopes to eventually take his 14-month daughter Georgia to his hometown of College Park soon enough. "I'll show her my old stomping grounds," he said. "I don't know what else to show!" (It's been awhile since he's lived in Atlanta.)

With the hot presidential campaign well under way, Thompson has already played Ben Carson in last season's finale and will continue to do so next month as long as Carson remains high up in the polls. But the neurosurgeon isn't easy to caricature. "He is kind of normal," he said. "It's hard to make an impression out of him. I'll figure it out. We'll do something."

Wouldn't he rather do Donald Trump, who will reportedly be done by Taran Killam ?

"He's such a character with such a voice," Thompson said. "How could you not? He hosted my first season. He was very cool. He was singing along, having fun with the sketches."

He is befuddled by Trump. "It's kind of like, what the ****? Why is Donald Trump acting like he wants to be president?"

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

Thompson is a big fan of Hammond, who returned last year to be the "SNL" announcer last year, replacing the late Don Pardo. Their tenures on the cast itself overlapped six seasons. He was angry that Kentucky Fried Chicken let Hammond go recently as Colonel Sanders, replacing him with another SNL alum Norm MacDonald.

"Darrell's the best," he said. "That's all I have to say about that."

UPDATE: That night, Kenan reunited with Kel Mitchell for a Jimmy Fallon "Good Burger" sketch.