SNL Vet Kenan Thompson Takes Comedy to New Heights With NBC’s ‘Kenan’

A long-running cast member of SNL made his prime time debut with Kenan on Feb. 16. This 30- minute sitcom follows a single father and morning talk show host, Kenan (Kenan Thompson), trying to raise two daughters after losing his wife. The show opens up with Kenan running late to work, trying to get a handle on the morning routine, trying his best to adjust to his new hectic lifestyle. 

Throughout the pilot, we see Kenan deflect, as he appears to be in denial about his wives’ tragic death. This denial has left him unable to open up about this and affects his ability to connect with the audience of his talk show, yet he is persistent in not discussing it on air. However, his executive producer and close friend, Mika (Kimrie Lewis), implies that speaking about it could offer a rating boost. Fortunately, he is not alone in this battle; his brother, Gary (fellow SNL member, Chris Redd), and his father-in-law, “Papa Rick” (Don Johnson), are more than happy to help, giving the show a full house-like atmosphere. A similar yet different dynamic, but it works. Eventually, he starts to loosen up and become comfortable talking about Cori (Niccole Thurman), his deceased wife. 

(Photo by: Casey Durkin/NBC)

The next day after a small fight with his ditzy co-host, Tami (Taylor Louderman.), Kenan feels more comfortable talking about his wife. As they are on-air, the conversation flows nicely with their guest author, Ellen (Elaine Kao), who came to discuss her book about birthing. The talk is light; Kenan even makes jokes about his child’s and epidurals. However, this doesn’t sit well with the birth author, and Kenan goes off the rails, accidentally insulting single moms and working moms. When he tries to backtrack, it only makes the situation worse. The audience did not respond well to his comments. Let’s just say talking about his feelings was not the right move.

The next day he apologizes to his viewers, for the first time expressing his feelings and taking accountability for his actions, showing that the Internet doesn’t hate him. It went over well, and the crowd seemed to appreciate it, finally seeing a more emotional side to the talk-show host. The show concludes with Kenan playing the blooper reel of him and Cori with his daughters (Dannah and Dani Lane). One can assume that the rest of the season will have a positive, fun, yet sentimental flow.

All in all, Kenan seems like a good show, filled with witty banter and antiques as Kenan navigates his way through being a single father and hosting a tv show. He appears to be a natural tv dad, and the cast’s chemistry doesn’t seem forced. I’m excited to see where Kenan will go. With decent premiere night ratings of 4.07 millions viewers, it appears that NBC has an excellent new show on its hands. 

‘Kenan’ is on Tuesday nights at 8:30/7:30 central on NBC.

By Megan Yamrich

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