Live from Lewisburg: Q&A with Kenan Thompson

Christina Oddo
Arts & Life Editor

Arts & Life Editor Christina Oddo ’14 sat down and talked with Kenan Thompson after his stand-up performance, part of the 2012 Center Stage event, which took place on Sept. 29 on Sojka Lawn.

What is one of your funniest memories from when you were on “Kenan and Kel?”

“There are a lot. I remember one time me and Kel went to the mall just to see if anyone would recognize us. And we like stood in the middle of the mall for like an hour … nobody ever did [recognize us] … that was one of the dumbest things ever to try and test how famous we were. That’s what you do when you’re young.”

What is the best part about being on SNL?

“SNL is a special place. The main thing … is the alumni. It’s like going to college. I never graduated from college. I went for a couple of years and things didn’t go according to plan, so I ended up leaving. But being attached to all of those names … where we walk into our offices there is the wall where there’s a head shot of each cast member from the beginning. To walk through their history every day is unbelievable.

On the other side, being an actor, you don’t have to worry about your next season necessarily … it doesn’t happen [on SNL]. The main thing that I love the most are the people I work with. My cast mates are some of the greatest people I’ve met. We all have a very similar understanding of what we’re doing. We spend a lot of time together so we are very close. [They are] people I’ve known for 10 years now.”

Who is your role model?

“A lot of people. Really, really smart people intrigue me. It’s hard to pick one role model. When I was a kid I would be like ‘Bill Cosby!’ But I’m grown up now and I’ve read about art and literature, and I’ve been a few places. I look up to Obama, he’s the first black president … that’s huge, whether or not you agree with the issues at hand. As far as role models, my mom is one. I look up to my wife all the time, my family, the people who know me for being myself, instead of being who I am on TV. It’s kind of different; I’m a little laid back. I look to these people the most for honest reactions.”

What is your favorite part of your job?

“I’ve been myself. For 20 years, pretty much; it will be 20 years next year. A lot of the roles I’ve played have been in the vein of comedy so it’s been easy for me to just be me. What’s funny to me, even though it’s a different version of myself–like I am a little quieter I guess–I still get to be my sense of humor. That’s been my main blessing.”

What did you enjoy most about performing on campus?

“I loved it. I’ve never done an outdoor show before. I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. You could hear me. People were active; they were participating. The drive down was unbelievable. Fall foliage is just starting to come out. A lot of cops–I didn’t like that–but we made it. It just seemed like a magical night.”

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