SNL Star Kenan Thompson Addresses When He May Start Thinking About Leaving The NBC Sketch Show

Kenan Thompson on Saturday Night Live
(Image credit: NBC)

It’s rarely a happy occasion when Saturday Night Live loses fan-favorite cast members, and this latest round of departures was especially brutal. Last month, the NBC staple said goodbye to Pete Davidson, Kate McKinnon, Aidy Bryant and Kyle Mooney. While each star was on the show for a sizable amount of time, none of them came close to hitting the historic mark that’s been set by Kenan Thompson. The veteran is still going strong as one of the standouts of the series but, in the aftermath of the recent cast exodus, he addressed when he might start giving serious consideration to his own exit. 

Kenan Thompson has seen and done a lot during his 19-season run. He’s acted alongside plenty of fellow SNLers and worked with countless guest stars (including supposed F-bomb dropper Samuel L. Jackson). As a result, he reached a milestone of 1,500 sketches during the recently concluded Season 47. Given everything he’s done, you’d think that he’d be ready to hang it up after all this time. However, as he explained to ET, he won’t start pondering his future until after the show reaches a major achievement:

I mean, not that I know of. I know we at least trying to get to the 50th, 'cause that's gonna be a special year, you know what I mean? And then after that, it's like, I don't know exactly how long I can do it.

Sounds like the beloved entertainer is holding out for the golden 50th season and, after that, it’ll be time to call it a day. The fact that he’d want to stay until the celebration year is completely understandable. It’s too early to say what may be planned but, based on the 40th season celebration several years ago, there could at least be another anniversary special in the works. Plus, to be able to say that you were on SNL during such a major time in its history would surely be something to be proud of.

But such badges of honor aren’t what drive Kenan Thompson as, in early 2021, the star explained why he’s actually stayed on the show so darn long. He explained that he loves the unique environment and the fact that he’s working on a live comedy series, something that’s become a novelty in recent years. You really can’t underestimate the power of a live audience and, after all these years, Thompson is still more than capable of entertaining those who make the trip to 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

The star, who shot to fame alongside Kel Mitchell and more on Nickelodeon, is part of a growing trend that sees stars remaining on the comedy institution for longer stretches of time. This fact was recently pointed out by David Spade, who starred on the show for six seasons during the ‘90s. When explaining why he left when he did, Spade said that he found that doing the show is “tough on the brains and it’s tough on the body.” He doubled down on these comments by saying that it’s “a hard place to be.”

Many recent stars have spoken about the intense atmosphere that comes with starring on SNL, but Kenan Thompson definitely seems to be a pro at it by this point. It’ll honestly be bittersweet when he finally does decide to take his final bow but, in the meantime, it’s great to hear that we’ll be able to watch him on the show for at least a few more years. 

You can check out Kenan Thompson’s best moments on Saturday Night Live by streaming past episodes with Peacock Premium.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.