Kenan Thompson talks college shows, personal future
Performing to a full Graham Chapel on Thursday, “Saturday Night Live” veteran Kenan Thompson shared his story with the crowd and chatted with several students during a lengthy Q-and-A session that followed his prepared monologue. After the show, Student Life caught up with Thompson to talk about what it’s like doing college shows and the future of this seasoned comedian.
Student Life: Do you normally do college shows?
Kenan Thompson: Yeah.
SL: And how often do you tend to do them?
KT: Like five or six times a school year, something like that. At the most it was like seven or eight—I was going every hiatus in the show.
SL: You said you don’t often do standup.
KT: It’s not my background. I’ve been doing it since I’ve been on the show. It’s not like standup; it’s more like I tell my little story and I have my little funny ways of doing it and stuff, and the Q-and-A stuff. I still have yet to develop the skill to build up a real routine, talk about current events and stuff like that.
SL: So you’ve been acting on sketch-type shows forever. If you were to leave “SNL,” are you going to try to do another sketch show?
KT: I’m always open to it, but I don’t necessarily have to do that. I’ve been classically trained in the theater to do that. The great thing about sketches is that it changes all the time; it’s always fresh. But I wouldn’t mind playing a dad on something or somebody’s co-worker. It’s just being an actor, man. I just work.
SL: Is it weird for you to be at a school? You didn’t get the chance to go to college.
KT: I didn’t get the full out-of-town college experience. I went in [Los Angeles]; I was working and going to school, to a city college, Santa Monica College. But I wanted to go to [the University of California, Los Angeles]. It was too expensive to go out of state, and then you have to live there for a year to be an in-state resident, and my mom didn’t want me to sit out of school for a year, so I went there—they had the highest transfer rate to UCLA—but I never got that far.
SL: How long are you hoping to be in “SNL”? I know you’re in the running for longest person to be on the show.
KT: I don’t know…Just to have done it once is a mind-blowing type of thing. It doesn’t even seem like the same show to me as the one that I grew up watching. Seeing myself on it is weird. It probably always will be. I’ll stay as long as they’ll have me. I don’t really care too much, because it’s just going back to auditioning and figuring out what kind of projects I want to work on and becoming a statistic again, which is not as exciting as, like, “We have this host coming; what ideas do you have?” That’s a lot more fun, and it feels more secure. I can’t stay forever, though. I know that.
SL: I know you talked about a few of your favorite hosts. What is it like working with a host during the week when you’re getting ready for the show?
KT: It’s awesome. You get to spend a lot of time with them. It’s really cool. It’s kind of like showing your idols what you think is funny and have them adjusting to that. It’s always a growing process. You pitch these ideas to people you’ve been watching all your life; it’s crazy.