Kenan Thompson is an exciting choice for SPB fall comedy show
What do you get when you combine a big name and some serious comedic talent with a pinch of childhood nostalgia and a dash of diversity? The answer: Kenan Thompson, “Saturday Night Live” cast member and headliner of Social Programming Board’s recently announced fall comedy show.
As a devout “SNL” fan, I was more than excited to hear that a cast member—especially one as seasoned and hilarious as Thompson—was coming to campus. Currently in his 12th season on “SNL,” Thompson is the most senior member of the show’s current cast and has tons of great sketches to show for it. From his wacky impressions (Steve Harvey and Jimmy McMillan are two favorites) to his edgier performances, like those dealing with race (see: “Black Jeopardy,” “12 Years Auditions”), Thompson is one of the show’s most solid players.
Of course, Thompson’s name recognition extends beyond his work on “SNL,” particularly among people our age. Even if you don’t watch “SNL,” you probably remember Thompson from his work on the ’90s Nickelodeon series “All That” and “Kenan & Kel,” as well as the latter’s movie version, “Good Burger.”
Our generation has grown up with Thompson, from “All That” to “What Up With That,” so college students are perhaps the perfect demographic for his performance. Regardless of whether Thompson jokes about his early work in his stand-up, his show will likely come with a side of ’90s nostalgia.
While Thompson has nearly two decades of experience in sketch comedy, it seems that he’s not quite as tested in the realm of stand-up. A quick YouTube search for “Kenan Thompson” yields plenty of interviews, webisodes and “SNL highlights,” but it’s surprisingly difficult to find even a single clip of him performing solo. That shouldn’t be too big of a concern, though—Thompson has plenty of experience performing in front of a live studio audience, so his humor should translate well to the stand-up stage.
Thompson’s comedy chops are more than enough reason to be excited about his selection, but the fact that he brings some diversity to the list of recent comedy headliners also doesn’t hurt. While SPB deserves a lot of credit for bringing in great performers—Mike Birbiglia and Judah Friedlander were hilarious last semester, and fans lined up in droves to see Nick Offerman—the last comedian of color to perform at Washington University was Hannibal Buress in fall 2012.
The diversity of the speakers and performers we bring to campus tends to be a hot-button issue among students (case in point: the debates surrounding Student Union’s Speaker Series selections every year), so props to SPB for seeking out Thompson. Maybe next year the group will finally bring in a comedian from an even more underrepresented category: women.
But let’s get back to Thompson. Most students are probably just happy to hear that a well-known name is coming to campus, but Thompson is much more than that. Though he’s not a stand-up performer by trade, his comedy prowess in undeniable, and his easygoing sense of humor should make for a great performance.
Thompson will be performing on Nov. 6 at 6:30 p.m. in Graham Chapel.