For Americans aged roughly 17-30 that have possessed even a marginal appreciation for popular culture over the better course of their lives, Kenan Thompson is most likely one of the longest, non-familial relationships they can lay claim to.
I'm currently 23 years old, and I have very few life memories in which Kenan was not a relevant part of my personal entertainment zeitgeist. This isn't meant to suggest that Kenan played a role in all of these memories—in fact he did so in very few, or at the most a perfectly healthy amount—but rather that during the time in which these memories were initially harvested, I was cognizant of Thompson and his role in my own pop culture spectrum.
I, like many other young adults that are currently proactive on the internet and with social media, am a child of '90s culture, despite sneaking onto this planet just under the '80s cutoff line. And I, like those that identify their formative years with this same decade, are undoubtedly equally familiar with the many legendary and cult-followed projects Kenan was involved in. Beginning in 1994, Thompson played a significant part in D2: The Mighty Ducks, All That, Heavyweights, D3: The Mighty Ducks (yeah, it sucked, but everyone saw it because of how amazing D2 was), Kenan & Kel, Goodburger, and more, not to mention cameos and appearances in a handful of other ‘90s staples (Cousin Skeeter!!!!). This was all bookended by Kenan joining the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2003, a position he currently remains in.
To run back over his résumé is staggering, not necessarily in a historical sense, but certainly in a “things watched by kids that grew up in the ‘90s” sense. It should be unnecessary to regurgitate the importance and splendor that was (and is) D2: The Mighty Ducks, spurring Kenan’s introduction to the world as “the knuckle-puck kid.” And while I’m quite positive that All That wasn’t nearly as prominent and celebrated (and hilarious) as my nostalgia has tinted it, I am also quite positive that everyone still remembers it through the same rose-colored glasses that I do (which eventually is all that matters). Many of the other previously noted endeavors fall under this same awning, which of course merits a nod to Kenan’s longtime partner in crime, Kel Mitchell (who, as you may remember, was quite fond of orange soda). But Kenan’s legacy was cemented when he hopped aboard Saturday Night Live, which simultaneously validated and made up for all those times he had to suffer through Kel dropping the screw in the tuna.
Whether you actually found Kenan to be all that funny in his earlier years and once he hit the big stage at SNL is somewhat secondary. I wouldn’t consider myself a diehard Kenan Thompson fan or anything to that extreme, and I venture to say that you would be hard pressed to find many people who would classify themselves as such. But I was/am a fan of the projects he was/is affiliated with, and I’ve always been impressed by his professional accomplishments, a decade on SNL being an obvious example (and overshadowed only by D2, obviously). For as long as TV and movies have had a conscientious impact on my life, Kenan Thompson has consistently been at the forefront (or at least the horizon) of those mediums on a varied and up-to-date basis.
Numerous media outlets, including The Hollywood Reporter (who I believe had it first) recently reported that Kenan is developing a comedy series for NBC with a little help from SNL grand poobah Lorne Michaels. The currently untitled show would feature Thompson as writer, executive producer and lead actor, which probably signifies that Kenan is not much longer for the Saturday Night Live world. And while there is clearly quite a ways to go before a pilot gets the green light and any episode commitments are made, I truly hope those things happen.
I have no confidence in whether or not this particular show, if it makes it to the screen, would be funny or watchable. Based on the success rate of new comedies each year—along with my personal response to Kenan's comedic performances—I certainly wouldn't put any money behind it. But if it's on, there's a good chance that I'll tune in, and I genuinely want it to flourish and build an audience. Otherwise, it's unclear when and if Kenan Thompson would be relevant again in my pop culture spectrum.
And that's a scenario I feel unprepared to handle, seeing as how I've never had to before.
Thanks for reading