Comedian Kenan Thompson just scored a long-overdue Emmy for his hilarious “Come Back Barack” song with Chance the Rapper and Chris Redd.
The ’90s R&B-inspired skit, viewable below, had Saturday Night Live audiences in stitches as he begged former president Barack Obama to save our country from its current misery. For ’90s kids like me, it was yet another memorable moment from a comedian who played a major role in our childhoods. It won a Creative Emmy a week ago.
Most of us were introduced to Kenan via All That, an ensemble sketch show comprised of a diverse group of funny kid comedians. He was there during the show’s early years (aka the best ones) alongside Lori Beth Denberg, Amanda Bynes, and of course Kel Mitchell.
He gave terrible French to English translations in a bathtub as Pierre Escargot and portrayed a lactose intolerant superhero. His baggin’, saggin’ pants had everything his friends could possibly need and his lunch lady impression turned peas into a punchline.
All That was a staple in our lives and wouldn’t have been the success it was without Kenan’s quick wit and goofy humor.
He continued to have a constant presence with guest appearances on several popular shows during the late ’90s including The Steve Harvey Show and Sister, Sister. But, his full-time gig was Kenan & Kel, an All That spin-off alongside his comedy partner in crime Kel Mitchell.
He spent four seasons (1996-2001) yelling “WHHHYYYYYY?” after his orange soda loving buddy did something idiotic and had a penchant for putting together a weird list of needed items for undefined missions. Kenan & Kel was our generation’s classic comedy duo whose dueling personalities meshed seamlessly every time they shared a stage or big screen (hello Good Burger) together.
The duo eventually went in different career directions with Kenan continuing to consistently make appearances on shows like Felicity until he landed his current spot on the Saturday Night Live team. He has made history with the longest tenure for an African-American cast member and the most celebrity impressions on the show.
And, he has seniority over everyone because he’s been there longer than anyone else in history. It’s easy to write people off as “less successful” because they are not selling out stadiums or constantly showing off their celeb lifestyle on social media, but Kenan is literally the definition of success.
There are so many people who long to do what they love and have that kind of consistency throughout their career. No wonder Kenan is always smiling for the camera!
Kenan’s resume is impressive, but that’s not the only reason we stan this comedian. It takes self-confidence, intelligence, and wisdom to know your lane and walk in it at the highest level.
He knows he’s not a Kevin Hart style comedian and he seems to be quite comfortable with his “cleaner” comedy image. Often times, a child star will try to buck their initial image by doing more explicit material that can alienate the audience that loves them for a specific reason.
But, Kenan has managed to evolve as a comedian without going down a path that doesn’t feel true to who he is as a creative. He’s proof of what it means to not follow the crowd and to do what works in terms of career moves.
As a matter of fact, he’s comfortable with his SNL gig and is smartly staying for the forseeable future. He’s never been in the news for anything absurd and he is supportive of his previous All That castmates.
There have been no major scandals and no drama (that I am aware of) tied to his name because Kenan lives a quiet, unbothered life with his wife and their two daughters. And, he gets to randomly show up on Nickelodeon shows and make people smile for a living. Now that’s a good life.
We stan a childhood fave with a wonderfully consistent career!