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Why Samuel L Jackson Blames Kenan Thompson For His Lack Of SNL Appearances

Samuel L Jackson appearing on What Up With That on SNL.
(Image credit: Saturday Night Live/ NBC)

Ten years ago, Samuel L Jackson appeared on Saturday Night Live and dropped an f-bomb. He hasn’t been back on the show since, and in case you’re keeping score at home, the pop culture icon still blames Kenan Thompson. He blamed poor Kenan in the aftermath after the initial incident, and during an appearance on Ellen this past week, he made it clear he still blames the long-time sketch comedian.

The conversation happened because former SNL star Leslie Jones was filling in for Ellen. The funny woman brought up the impression she did of Samuel L Jackson while she was a cast member on the show. Some convo about Kenan, of course, followed, and that’s when Jackson dropped this gem…

Kenan got me banned from Saturday Night Live. He didn’t cut me off soon enough, and I said the forbidden word on television. He was supposed to cut me off! He didn’t… I hosted the show once, did one guest appearance and then (throat slashing gesture).

So, what actually happened here? Well, that’s complicated. Jackson first hosted Saturday Night Live back in 1998. He then made a cameo appearance back in 2012 to join Thompson for one of his “What Up With That?” sketches, which, by the way, may be among the best recurring spots in SNL history. During the sketch, Thompson, playing Diondre Cole, cut Jackson off, as he normally does with guests, and when the action came back around to Jackson later, he expressed his anger with a few well-chosen swears. You can check out the sketch below. I’d recommend watching the whole thing (because it’s great), but if you just want to see the back-and-forth including the now bleeped swears, that starts around the 6:15 mark.

Now, to be 100% clear on this point, Samuel L Jackson is not actually banned from Saturday Night Live. Entertainment Weekly talked to the show and confirmed he didn’t officially get the axe. That being said, for someone with Jackson’s pop culture icon status, you would expect he’d have been on the show a few more times. I mean we just added John Mulaney and Paul Rudd to the Five-Timers Club. No offense to those dudes, one of whom I love and one of whom I like well enough, but that seems a little off.

That being said, doing a live show is about trust and also, in the case of network television, about not saying certain words. Jackson dropped two of them during his last appearance, one of which was, as Ralphie in A Christmas Story would say, the f dash dash dash word. I know his story is Thompson should have cut him off, but it’s not like he lingered over those swears waiting to be cut off. He enthusiastically fired 'em out, which is, I guess, why he’s the patron saint of entertainment swearing (even if Jonah Hill has technically sworn more times).

Regardless, we all love Samuel L Jackson, and I think I speak for everyone when I say he needs another crack at SNL. I absolutely cannot promise he won’t swear, but I can promise some other things. Fans would love to see him on the show again. He’d be great in every single sketch, and it would be delightful to see him opposite Kenan Thompson again doing something weird. Make it happen!

Saturday Night Live returns with at least a three week run of new episodes starting on April 2nd. There are some exciting upcoming hosts including Lizzo and Jake Gyllenhaal. Set your DVRs.

Mack Rawden
Mack Rawden

Enthusiastic about Clue, case-of-the-week mysteries, the NBA and cookies at Disney World. Less enthusiastic about the pricing structure of cable, loud noises and Tuesdays.