“We've been building towards something outside of SNL for years and years,” Kenan Thompson revealed during a press conference to promote season 2 of his NBC sitcom, Kenan. The comedy actor has been in the business since 1994 and Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels serves as an executive producer. “This is the third time around the development cycle. And in this cycle, it's been a couple of years before we got the first season on the air, even. So, it's been a long road.”
That long road was hindered by the global pandemic and with both Kenan and his castmate Chris Redd appearing simultaneously on SNL, the two take extra safety precautions. “For safety reasons, I've only taken one or two commercials, basically,” the actor shared about the private planes he takes between New York City and Los Angeles, which the rest of the cast teased him about. “We're in a heavy testing cycle, so that's one good thing about going from job to job to job, is that I know my status all the time and that makes me feel a lot more at ease as far as everything is concerned.”
“I never, never heard you guys complain ever, which is so admirable,” Taylor Louderman praised Kenan and Chris. She plays Tami Greenlake, Kenan’s co-host on the show-within-a-show, and this is her first sitcom after years in professional theater, including originating the role of Regina George in Tina Fey’s Mean Girls musical. “I think the main adjustment that I found was in theater, the audience tells me what's funny or not very quickly. And on set, I rely on my castmates to tell me, or our director, whatever. And I had to really learn to trust myself. I think everyone probably remembers me feeling very insecure when we started, but they lifted me up and made me feel comfortable really quickly.” This season will also see Taylor sing in two episodes.
“Last season kind of left off on a cliff-hanger, had a lot of folks on pins and needles what's going to happen,” Kimrie Lewis shared, who plays Kenan’s producer Mika Caldwell. “This season, they continue to deepen their friendship. But I think that fans will be excited to see both of them dipping into the dating world. Especially for Mika, we haven't really seen that. She has that work-life balance that she's always trying to juggle. So, it was a lot of fun seeing both of them struggle in their own ways with relationships this season.”
“That's always been a well-established thing from the first episodes, she's my rock and reflected in real life, too,” Kenan added about the off-screen dynamic. “Throughout our entire shooting process, she's been right by my side, right in step with comedy and jokes and just laughing through the day. We have so much fun when we're working, it doesn't seem like work and it makes 12, 14 hours fly by like it's nothing. So that, I think, is coming onto the on-camera part of it as well, how close we are and how close we've gotten in a very short amount of time. And our characters are just exploring, was it messy for us to get involved, whatever, after my wife passed, or are we better off friends? Or am I just being timid or am I afraid or whatever? Or am I still hurt? It was a lot to explore.”
For Kenan Thompson, you might think juggling starring in two shows simultaneously and executive producing Kenan would be enough to drive a man crazy, but he explained how he stays sane through it all. “You take it day by day, I think. The sun comes up, we get up and do stuff. And the sun goes down, try to get some rest, basically. What happens in between, hopefully, there's a lot of love surrounded in it and taking care of our individual pursuit in our lives. For me, it's my home life and family and my wife.”
Season 2 of Kenan kicks off Monday, January 3rd, with two back-to-back episodes starting at 8/7c on NBC. Episodes of Kenan are streaming on Peacock.
Alex joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and has been a lifelong Disney fan. His main beats for LP are Disney-branded movies, TV shows, books, music and toys. He recently became a member of the Television Critics Association (TCA).