A first-time host. Kenan Thompson will make his debut as the 74th annual Primetime Emmy Awards host on Monday, September 12.
The Saturday Night Live star, 44, follows Cedric the Entertainer and Jimmy Kimmel, who hosted in 2021 and 2022, respectively. Many of his SNL costars — including Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Andy Samberg, Michael Che and Colin Jost — have been emcees for the Television Academy’s biggest night too.
“Everyone’s got to do it once, and it’s his turn, he’s earned it,” Meyers told Variety in August. “The good news is Kenan, like I was, is lucky enough to be connected to a talented group of writers. The SNL writing staff, I’m sure, is going to show up for Kenan because he has been showing up for them and their sketches, getting laughs on looks and line reads for two decades.”
The Atlanta native started acting as a child. He got his big break on Nickelodeon’s All That, a kid-friendly sketch comedy show, in 1994. One of his hit sketches spawned the Good Burger movie. He also starred in the network’s sitcom Kenan & Kel from 1996 to 2000. He landed on SNL in 2003, starting a historic run on the late-night show.
Thompson has spent more than 20 years on SNL, making him the cast member with the longest tenure, and he has starred in over 1,500 sketches. He won his first Emmy in 2018 (for his Saturday Night Live track “Come Back Barack”) and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame last month, which was placed right next to creator Lorne Michaels. Despite his accomplishments, he still finds himself feeling fretful ahead of the Emmys. He wants the awards show, which will air live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on NBC at 8 p.m. ET., to be a good night for everyone involved.
“Right now I have nerves about it when I think about just because it’s a huge night,” Thompson told Nerds of Color on Friday, September 9. “It’s television’s biggest night, you know what I’m saying? And it’s not like I have small shoes to fill. Like, there have been some incredible hosts in previous years and stuff like that. So I just want to be of that. Caliber and move the night along and get it done. I know it’s a stressful thing for pretty much everybody that’s there, so I think it’s my job to keep it light and keep it going.”
Scroll down to see everything Thompson has said about hosting the 2022 Emmys: