AGT: Kenan Thompson Brings the Funny and Refreshing Candor as Guest Judge in Simon Cowell's Absence

Kenan Thompson follows Kelly Clarkson as guest judge for the live shows following Simon Cowell's injury

kenan thompson, Simon Cowell
Photo: Twitter; Getty Images

Kenan Thompson made his debut on America's Got Talent's live shows!

On Tuesday, the Saturday Night Live star, who also serves as a judge on NBC's comedy competition series Bring the Funny, filled in for Simon Cowell, who missed the second week of live shows after breaking his back at his Malibu, California, home and undergoing surgery on Aug. 8.

"This is incredible," said Thompson, who filmed alongside judges Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel and Sofia Vergara as well as host Terry Crews at Univeral Studios Hollywood. "Seize the moment, if you have nerves turn those nerves into superpowers."

The 11 acts on the second week of live shows included: animal act Alexis Brownley & The Puppy Pals, salsa acrobatic duo BAD Salsa (who performed remotely from India), musician BONAVEGA, singer Kelvin Dukes, daredevil Jonathan Goodwin, impressionist Vincent Marcus, singer Kameron Ross, dance group The Shape, dance group Spyros Bros, singer Daneliya Tuleshova, and Terry Crews' Golden Buzzer winner Voices of Our City Choir.

Only five will advance to the next round.

Thompson, 42, is the second guest judge for the quarterfinals round after Kelly Clarkson subbed in for the Aug. 11 and Aug. 12 episodes.

His gig as a guest judge comes after he received another Emmy nomination — his fourth in total, including one win — for his work on SNL.

America's Got Talent
Chris Haston/NBC

On Saturday, a friend of Cowell's told PEOPLE that the AGT judge was discharged from the hospital after a week-long stay. He was "very happy to be back home with his family in the fresh sea air" of Malibu.

"He's been doing some work already this week but he also knows he needs to give his back time to heal properly from the surgery," the friend said. "He's been able to walk quite a lot and quicker than the experts had expected him to do after this type of major surgery, which is a great sign for the healing coming along well."

The friend added that Cowell watched the first week of live shows from his hospital room. "The AGT production team had even sent him a giant X and a Golden Buzzer," the friend said. "He was delighted Kelly had stepped in to help and very grateful to her."

Cowell's participation for the rest of season 15 has not been determined.

Last Tuesday, Klum, 47, spoke with PEOPLE about Cowell's recovery and possible return. "Who knows maybe next week he will be sitting there with us again, at the speed he's going! I hope he does. I was like, 'What else is happening?' Every morning you wake up to another crazy news and I hope this is it for now. Can we just turn the page and can life get better? We're all hoping for that," the model said.

America's Got Talent airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on NBC.

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