Kenan Thompson: It’s ‘ridiculously exciting’ to host Emmys


Add this to Kenan Thompson’s ever-growing repertoire of characters and impressions: Primetime Emmy Awards host.

The comedy veteran, who is entering his 20th season on “Saturday Night Live” and is the show’s longest-running cast member, will emcee the 74th Emmy Awards on NBC on Sept. 12, NBC announced Tuesday.

The ceremony and live telecast will take place at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles and, for the first time, will be streamed live on NBC streaming service Peacock.

“Being a part of this incredible evening where we honor the best of the television community is ridiculously exciting, and to do it on NBC — my longtime network family — makes it even more special,” Thompson, 44, said Tuesday in a statement. “Like all TV fans, I can’t wait to see the stars from my favorite shows.”

The “Kenan and Kel” and “All That” alum takes over the often thankless gig from last year’s host, Cedric the Entertainer, who led the in-person 2021 telecast with a salute to television and a tribute to late musician Biz Markie. “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” star and three-peat Emmys host Jimmy Kimmel hosted the ceremony in 2020 when the telecast was forced to go semi-virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement comes a mere month before the ceremony is set to take place. NBC reportedly conducted a lengthy search with the Television Academy and Emmys producers Done+Dusted and Reginald Hudlin to find an A-lister who could shake up the ceremony, Variety reported.

Thompson’s hosting stint comes after his 2021 outings as emcee of the 47th People’s Choice Awards and the “Jonas Brothers Family Roast” TV special.

“Kenan is well-regarded as one of the funniest, likeable and accomplished performers of the last two decades and his tenure on ‘Saturday Night Live’ speaks for itself,” said Jen Neal, executive vice president of live events for NBCUniversal Television and Streaming. “We know he’ll bring an excitement and professionalism to the Emmy Awards that a show of this stature deserves.”

The “Kenan” star and prolific voice actor is no stranger to the ceremony. He was nominated twice last year — as an actor in “Kenan” and “SNL” — and is a six-time nominee overall. He won an Emmy in 2018 for original music and lyrics for the “SNL” song ”Come Back, Barack.”

He has also left his mark on the sketch comedy show with memorable impressions of Rev. Al Sharpton, former NBA star Charles Barkley and TV host Steve Harvey, as well as bringing to life beloved characters such as “Black Jeopardy” host Darnell Hayes, “Deep House Dish” co-host DJ Dynasty Handbag and “Weekend Update” correspondent Jean K. Jean.

Thompson will receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Thursday.

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