Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Kenan Thompson tells Seth Meyers about skipping out on Kanye West’s SNL “circus” on Late Night

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Kenan Thompson joined old Saturday Night Live pal Seth Meyers on Monday’s Late Night, with the two SNL veterans swapping the requisite stories from the live comedy trenches. Meyers, who’s hosting SNL for the first time on October 13, praised Thompson’s recent Emmy nomination for his unprecedented 16th year on the show, while the pair took solace in the fact that at least Thompson lost the Supporting Actor award to Henry Winkler, who Thompson referred to as “a sweet little old Jewish gumdrop.” Plus, he noted, Winkler had waited 42 years since his last nomination, and if anyone can understand waiting a long time for recognition, it’s Thompson. And while he suffered the added bummer of not being in much of the premiere episode (“I enjoyed watching it,” joked Thompson), Kenan did win an Emmy for Best Original Music And Lyrics, along with SNL co-star Chris Redd and Chance The Rapper, for their Jodeci-inspired paean to America’s lost love, “Come Back Barack.”

Still, everyone wants to know what the hell happened once the SNL cameras went off after Saturday’s season premiere, just as musical guest and occasional singing Perrier bottle Kanye West summoned the cast and host Adam Driver back up on the stage. Kenan, who’d bailed to watch West’s third performance of the night on the monitors backstage, was asked by Meyers if he’s glad he wasn’t among the group who had to stand there wondering where to look while noted Donald Trump fan West berated the audience and the show for assuming that he wouldn’t like Donald Trump, just because Trump’s actions mark him as a corrupt, traitorous, white-supremacist sex criminal and all.

“For sure,” deadpanned Thompson with 16 seasons’ worth of relieved comic timing. Calling Kanye’s whole appearance on the show a “circus,” Thompson explained that the people at SNL are in a “service business,” and that, as happens from time to time with musical guests, if “they’re a little bit crazy… we let them have that.” As for West, Kenan said that, while he’s entitled to his opinions, he wasn’t sure that the closing of a live show where cast members are ordered to listen to you rant while unable to do anything but shuffle their feet is “the moment, necessarily, to hold people hostage like that” while you “ca-ca” over them. With his long tenure on the show for guidance (despite being only 40, somehow), Kenan explained that, as soon as West said, “Hey, join me on stage,” he knew he’d made the right decision to retreat, thinking, “Oh, there goes the little cheese in the mousetrap.”