KENAN: Kenan Thompson on the New NBC Comedy's Evolution - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

KENAN: Kenan Thompson on the New NBC Comedy’s Evolution

February 16, 2021 by  

Kenan Thompson

KENAN — Season: Pilot — Pictured: (l-r) Chris Redd as Gary, Dannah Lockett as Birdie, Kenan Thompson as Kenan, Dani Lockett as Aubrey, Don Johnson as Rick — (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)

Kenan Thompson, SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE’s longest-tenured cast member, is branching out with his new sitcom KENAN (which debuts Tuesday, February 16 on NBC), but the path to make it to air hasn’t exactly been easy.

“It was three different ideas, three different teams of people,” Thompson said during the show’s virtual TCA panel. “Our original pilot was the same idea with me as a different profession and a couple of different people in the cast and stuff like that, and then we pivoted into the morning show profession…which I think is a very much more similar energy that people would expect because of my SNL energy.”

In KENAN, Kenan (Thompson) is a widowed father of two girls—Aubrey (Dani Lane) and Birdie (Dannah Lane)—who is trying to balance his family life with his job as morning show anchor. To get through it all, he relies on his father-in-law, Rick (Don Johnson), and his brother Gary (Chris Redd), as well as his EP at work, Mika (Kimrie Lewis).

Though the show was delayed (an earlier plan included an Olympics-timed launch), it worked out for the best.

“We had a moment and an opportunity to sit down with it and flesh it out even further as opposed to being under the pressures of pilot week or whatever,” Thompson said. “So now we’ve stretched it out to where it is right now, and I think we are all pretty grateful that we had a chance to live with the material for a while. The universe has just unfolded in a way to where we have the cast we are currently dealing with now. And even until the last hour, we ended up getting some pretty great people in it. So, it’s been a long road, but it’s apparently been a very necessary road.”

As for the future, Thompson is enjoying splitting his time between the new comedy and SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

“There used to be a time when people would leave the show and go into their careers,” he said. ”But I’m of the thinking, basically, where you can do both as long as you can, and then the departure comes [when it does] in a natural sort of way.”

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