Saturday Night Live star Kenan Thompson is set to play the lead in a brand new NBC sitcom, which might prompt the comedic actor to leave SNL. Importantly, nothing is set in stone as of yet, and Thompson has not made any official statement concerning what he will decide to do now that NBC has decided to move forward with producing the sitcom. However, if the sitcom is ordered to series, Thompson may have no choice but to say goodbye to his SNL gig.
NBC’s new comedy is titled Saving Larry, and stars Thompson as a father who must juggle the challenges of raising his children on his own following the death of his wife, and the presence of an overbearing father-in-law. Notably, SNL creator Lorne Michaels is also a producer on this new single-camera sitcom.
Though news of Thompson’s casting in a new NBC sitcom is an exciting one for comedy fans, there’s a bittersweet element to the announcement. Deadline reports that Thompson might in fact end up leaving Saturday Night Live behind in favor of Saving Larry, due to the fact that it would be difficult for the actor to balance the workload of starring in two series full-time. This is despite recent comments that Thompson would like to stay on SNL “forever.”
Thompson is SNL’s longest-tenured cast member, having starred in a whopping 15 seasons to date. He began his stint on the venerable sketch series back in 2003, and has gone on to become one of the show’s most celebrated and recognizable talents, even collecting an Emmy nomination for his work playing a host of famous characters. Whereas some consider SNL to be especially strong as of late thanks to cast members like Thompson and its ongoing political commentary on the Trump administration, others beg to differ. The NBC variety show was in headlines this week when original cast member Chevy Chase offered some scathing critiques of his old series, claiming that he was “amazed” that Michaels had “gone so low” with the quality of its recent sketches.
If Thompson leaves, SNL might in fact be in a bind, as it would bid farewell to what is arguably its strongest talent. It would follow other recent major departures such as Vanessa Bayer and Bobby Moynihan, both of whom left last year and whose absences are still felt in current episodes. Still, Thompson’s potential departure does have a silver lining. SNL is famous for showcasing new and upcoming talents and jumpstarting careers, and though Thompson’s absence would leave a hole in the cast, it would leave room for other young talents to come in and begin their own journeys to comedic success.