An ‘SNL’ Writer Admits The Show Can’t Afford To Lose Kenan Thompson

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the future of Saturday Night Live. People have been fired, changes have been made at the Weekend Update desk and recent conflicting reports have brought veteran cast member Kenan Thompson‘s status as a regular on the sketch comedy show into question. The will he, wont he debate rages on after TMZ reported that Thompson wouldn’t be returning after this current season because he had plans to move to LA and start his own show. SNL slammed that report, insisting that no casting decisions would be made until after the show wraps its upcoming season, but the news outlet is sticking to its story, and while we’re all crossing our fingers that the rumors aren’t true, the writers over at SNL are probably going a step further and saying a few Hail Marys in order to hang on to their golden boy.

Co-head writer Bryan Tucker talked to Slate about some of the performers the writers on the show loved working with and Thompson’s name was on the top of his list. While we all know how funny the comedian can be — his “Jean K. Jean” and “What’s Up With That” sketches get some of the biggest laughs on the show — Tucker revealed that when he and his colleagues struggle for jokes in a script, it’s Thompson they turn to:

Here’s a secret. If you’re a Saturday Night Live writer, and you want to get an extra laugh in your script, just add this line: “KENAN REACTS.” Sure, it’s sort of cheating. But we still do it sometimes. Because it works.

In my nine seasons at SNL, Kenan has been one of the few cast members who writers lean on. Put him in your sketch somewhere, anywhere, and your sketch will get better. Because Kenan knows how to take ordinary lines and make them funny, and take funny lines and make them special.

Tucker uses the rest of the article to share some of the more memorable moments he’s had working with Thompson on set but honestly, the whole thing feels a bit too sappy and sentimental for Thompson’s speculated departure to not be a real possibility. Maybe Tucker knows something we dont?