Kenan Thompson on Hosting the 2022 Emmys: “Keep the Fun”

Saturday Night Live veteran Kenan Thompson will host the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards, which will air Monday, September 12 (8 p.m.) on NBC.

The 44-year-old comedian has come a long way since playing Junior on The Steve Harvey Show before joining Nickelodeon, first on All That and then alongside Kel Mitchell on the long-running sitcom Kenan. & Kel” (1990-96).

Thompson joined SNL in 2003 — the series’ first Trouper born after its 1975 premiere — and has been a mainstay ever since, creating popular characters like Black Jeopardy! Host Darnell Hayes, Diondre Cole (“What’s Up With That?”), and celebrity impressions including Al Sharpton, Bill Cosby, and Harvey). A six-time Emmy nominee, Thompson received a 2018 statuette (Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics) for “Come Back Barack,” which he sang on “Saturday Night Live” with Chance the Rapper and Chris Redd.

Thompson, 44, took time out from preparing for his first gig as an Emmys host to answer a few questions from The Post.

Kenan Thompson smiles.
Kenan Thompson.
NBC/Mary Ellen Matthews
Kenan Thompson wears a visor and is seated at a desk next to Michael Che.
Kenan Thompson on Weekend Update with Michael Che (left) on SNL.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Did the offer to host the Emmys surprise you, or has it been discussed in the past (but didn’t work out due to logistical/timing reasons)?

It was a total surprise! A little bit shocking because it’s a big call and if you decline it you’re like ‘when are they going to call you back’ and what does that look like? I didn’t want to do this, so I thought, “I guess I have to do it!”

How much rehearsal time goes into the hosting gig?

Not enough! Musical numbers and things like that… rehearsal time isn’t just for me, it’s a chance for everyone to get to the point – from the guy calling the music to the lighting and so on. It’s a unique night, lots of roll-ins and clips [and] busy for a live event. We can never have enough rehearsal time, but we’ll take what we can get.

Kenan Thompson holds a microphone.
Kenan Thompson on his show “Kenan”.
Jordin Althaus/NBC
Kenan Thompson smiles.
Kenan Thompson on his show “Kenan”.
Jordin Althaus/NBC
Kenan Thompson is seated on a throne in a crown and long robe.
Kenan Thompson on Saturday Night Live.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Do you start with a monologue? If so, did you write everything or is it a combination of your writing and input from others?

I’m not a standup comic, so I work with writers. I give them all the credit they deserve. But yes, a monologue is expected of any presenter, especially a comedic one, in my opinion. So there will be some kind of opening.

What do you think is the main responsibility of the host?

Have fun and keep moving. Reset after boring moments, after emotional moments. Keep the mood in the same vein if you can.

Kenan Thompson as Kenan and Kimrie Lewis as Mika (left) in "kenan"
Kenan Thompson as Kenan and Kimrie Lewis as Mika (left) in Kenan.
Jordin Althaus/NBC
Kenan Thompson smiles and points to a bald head and mustache.
Kenan Thompson as Charles Barkley on SNL.
NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

You’re a veteran of live television; Do you approach this differently than you would with an episode of “SNL”? Is it more pressure?

no It’s just different. It’s a big deal, so I feel that pressure. It’s going to be a reflection on me as SNL involves a lot of people. It’s a different kind of pressure.

https://nypost.com/2022/09/12/kenan-thompson-on-hosting-the-2022-emmys-keep-it-fun/ Kenan Thompson on Hosting the 2022 Emmys: “Keep the Fun”

Emma Bowman

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