After almost a lifetime on television, Kenan Thompson might be on a first-name basis with the general public, but he doesn’t come close to registering as one of the most famous people to walk through the doors of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. His time on the show has never translated into Hollywood stardom or his own TV show. Even at SNL, there has always been someone else who took the title of favorite ― a Tina Fey, or an Andy Samberg, or a Kristen Wiig, or a Kate McKinnon.
The Huffington Post spoke with a dozen current and former SNL writers and cast members for this story. What emerged is a portrait of excellence, and of a man who has mastered a set of skills that many of his peers feel have not gotten enough recognition.
What makes Thompson special is not best utilized in movies, or on a pre-recorded sitcom, or behind a desk ― but right there, live on air at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night.
Thompson makes everything at SNL better. The writers can rely on him to bring them back a laugh. The cast members know that he’ll set them up for their own moment. And the crew members know that they’ll have someone who will act as an on-stage director, controlling the tempo of the sketch and the people around him.