At this point in comedian Kenan Thompson's career, he has become nearly synonymous with Saturday Night Live, and his record-breaking stint as the show's most seasoned cast member will likely go unmatched for years. While he has a plethora of celebrity impersonations under his belt, one of Thompson's most recognizable and beloved impressions is his take on talk show host and Family Feud frontman Steve Harvey. And who better to ask Thompson about his SNL approach than Harvey himself?
Kenan Thompson remotely appeared on an episode of the STEVE on Watch talk show this week, and after some respectful salutations, Steve Harvey kicked off the interview by asking about that long-running impression. This isn't the first time the SNL impression of Steve Harvey has come up in recent weeks, but here's how Thompson started off his explanation.
I’ve known you for a long time, and you have a big personality. You’re the one and only Steve Harvey, you know what I mean? So to kind of mirror that which you put out there, basically I’m just reflecting. You have a way of talking; you’re nice and country with it sometimes even though you’re from Cleveland. I guess they’re country up there.
After listening to Steve Harvey talk for a while, it can be easy to forget that the comedian grew up (partially) in Cleveland, considering he doesn't have much of a midwestern accent, and instead taps into more of a Southern drawl at times. Plus, it's a quasi-drawl that's pretty specific to Harvey himself, unless of course you count Kenan Thompson's many impressions on SNL.
Kenan Thompson continued, sharing that his performance largely reflects Steve Harvey's ever-present boisterousness and his strong vocal delivery. According to Thompson:
I feel the real in you, and I’ve just been around you so much. I watch how you walk, and I watch how you deliver stuff – the passion that you have, especially when you’re delivering jokes. You throw that energy on something that you’re trying to get across in a certain kind of way. Especially on stage. . . . I just watch you do you to the utmost, and then I try to give it back.
Steve Harvey is definitely one-of-a-kind as a Family Feud host specifically because of how much energy and passion he puts into every moment he's on camera. Granted, that passion sometimes comes across through contestants' juvenile humor and/or idiotic guesses making him howl with laughter, but to that end, his reactions are often more entertaining than whatever sexually suggestive comments were made. These are not the responses one would have gotten from former hosts like Louie Anderson and Richard Karn.
As it happens, Kenan Thompson shared a while back that Steve Harvey wasn't necessarily over the moon by seeing himself parodied on Saturday Night Live. However, Harvey came to appreciate it more over time, considering Thompson's performances are based more on silliness than anything coming close to resembling meanness. Now let's get Eddie Murphy back on the show to get both of them to play dueling Steve Harveys.
Saturday Night Live returned to NBC for the Season 46 premiere this past weekend, with Jim Carrey and Maya Rudolph respectively appearing as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for a presidential debate sketch that drew some criticism for its jokes about Donald Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis. The episode was hosted by Chris Rock and also poked fun at the controversial backlash over The Ellen DeGeneres Show and featured a brief but meaningful tribute to the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
SNL airs Saturday nights on NBC at 11:35 p.m. ET, while STEVE on Watch posts new episodes on Facebook Watch multiple times a week. While waiting for more, head to our Fall TV 2020 premiere schedule to see all the new and returning shows that are on the way soon.