Kenan Thompson Says He Has No Plans to Leave 'SNL' Ahead of New Sitcom Premiere

Kenan Thompson has been on Saturday Night Live for 17 seasons, making him the longest-tenured cast member

Kenan Thompson SNL
Photo: Peter Kramer/NBCUniversal

Rest easy, Saturday Night Live fans — Kenan Thompson isn't going anywhere.

In a new interview with Variety, Thompson said he has no plans to leave the hit NBC comedy sketch show, despite signing on to his own sitcom, Kenan.

Thompson, 42, joined SNL in 2003 and holds the record for the longest-tenured cast member in the show's history. He has been nominated a total of four times at the Emmy Awards, winning once for co-writing "Come Back, Barack" in 2018.

The current season marks his 17th, though he told Variety he'd like to reach an even 20.

Kenan Thompson
Casey Durkin/NBC

"I have a certain number I would love to get to," he said. "I think 20 is a good, round, even number that I'm close to. I feel like that is in reach, but also it would be respected if I don't get there. Like, 18 is fine, 19 is fine. It doesn't really matter. What matters is, will I have time for my family? There's only 24 hours in a day."

Kenan, premiering Feb. 16 on NBC, stars Thompson as a widowed dad juggling his job as the host of an Atlanta morning show while raising two daughters.

The upcoming sitcom will feature some of Thompson's family at SNL — cast member Chris Redd will star as Thompson's brother. The pair will fly back and forth between New York and Los Angeles to balance filming both Kenan and the late-night sketch comedy show.

SNL producer Lorne Michaels has also signed on as an executive producer on Kenan, and gushed over Thompson's comedy skills.

"There's nothing he can't do," Michaels told Variety. "He's one of the greatest of all time. … Kenan may be a genius."

For the All That alum, the feeling is mutual. "Lorne's my buddy now, which is crazy for me to say," Thompson said.

"I thoroughly respect what Lorne has done, and the fact that he would take the time to dedicate his attention to hopefully getting laughter or an enjoyable moment by being around me is just crazy," he added.

During the NBC winter press tour in January, Thompson said that it has "always been like, a goal to stay busy working."

"And, you know, just stay focused on whatever goals I had as far as being an actor or goals as far as one to produce things and, you know, put my adult hat on and stuff like that," he added.

Though he admitted he "couldn't have pictured it necessarily being the way it is," he said that he is "definitely enjoying the ride because I have just been blessed to have a front row seat to such God gifted people in so many different ways."

Kenan premieres Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

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