“Saturday Night Live” is scheduled to resume its 47th season on January 15. But as COVID-19 surges due to the omicron variant, who can rely on any schedule these days?
“SNL” ended 2021 on an ominous note, as the virus forced the Dec. 18 episode, hosted by Paul Rudd, to ditch musical guest Charli XCX, the live audience and most of the cast and crew. Of the current “SNL” comedians, only Kenan Thompson and Michael Che appeared live.
If anything, perhaps it served as a melancholy nod to Thompson’s consistency; he’s the longest-tenured cast member in the show’s history, now in his 17th season. Thompson, 43, juggled “SNL” duty while wrapping production on Season 2 of “Kenan,” his NBC sitcom (Mondays, 8 EST/PST).
“We flew through seven weeks of work without taking a break before ‘SNL’ started,” Thompson recalls in a recent interview. “We took a two-week break to get (‘SNL’) going and then we finished up.”
Thompson filmed “Kenan” in Los Angeles and noted that the second time around, his bicoastal schedule was easier, thanks to vaccines and protocols. It also allowed the sitcom to film outside its studio. In Season 2, Thompson reprises his role as Kenan Williams, Atlanta TV host and widowed father of two. While his real-life daughters are only 7 and 3, they enjoyed watching the first season, for which Thompson earned an Emmy nomination.
“It’s an interesting perspective to watch them watch the show,” Thompson says. “It’s like, ‘Are (sisters Dani and Dannah Lane, who play Thompson’s daughters) us? Or are we them?’ It’s funny.”
Between his family, production company and podcast, Thompson is keeping busy. And if “SNL” returns amid what New York governor Kathy Hochul calls “shocking” COVID rates, the cast will be there to support one another.
“No one wants to impede on anybody’s personal space because we are all adults. But at the same time, if I see my buddy hurting, then I’m going to try and cheer him up,” Thompson says. “We all understand that we’re in the trenches together, doing a very special thing that not a lot of people get the chance to do… so it’s never taken for granted, but it is highly emotional.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Kenan Thompson juggling his NBC sitcom and ‘highly emotional’ ‘SNL’