Could John Mulaney Be 1 Reason Why Kenan Thompson Will Stay at ‘SNL’ While Shooting His New Show?

Kenan Thompson plans to pull double-duty, shooting his new sitcom Kenan and Saturday Night Live at the same time.

Kenan Thompson on 'SNL'
Kenan Thompson | Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

While Thompson said SNL is no longer a just career springboard and it’s possible to create for both types of shows, he may be wading into sitcom waters with caution, especially after what happened with former SNL writer, comedian John Mulaney‘s show.

SNL cast member Chris Redd will also be shooting both series, which means the comedians will be flying between Los Angeles and New York. “We’ll see how exhausting it gets when it has to become a repeat kind of a thing,” Thompson told Deadline. SNL creator Lorne Michaels, who is the executive producer of Kenan, says Thompson “knows the drill” at SNL so he can easily fly in and perform.

John Mulaney tried a sitcom, but it didn’t stick

Mulaney had a short-live sitcom series, which was also produced by Lorne Michaels. The 2014 show, aptly named Mulaney was highly anticipated, with some critics envisioning Mulaney to be the next Seinfeld. Whether it was the build-up or the medium, the series was quickly canceled after only 13 episodes.

But after the series was canceled, Mulaney’s career soared. He won an Emmy and has written and acted in a slew of successful series. But he was crushed when Mulaney didn’t land. “I take full responsibility for the funny jokes and for the stuff everyone hated,” he said to The Washington Post. “It was so enervating.” Adding, that the show was “just not, for me, the best mind-set to be in to be the funniest possible.”

Zack Pearlman as Andre, Seaton Smith as Motif, Nasim Pedrad as Jane, John Mulaney as John Mulaney
Zack Pearlman as Andre, Seaton Smith as Motif, Nasim Pedrad as Jane, John Mulaney as John Mulaney | Ray Mickshaw/NBC

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“One thing I’ve learned is, there’s not these elephants in the room the same way you think there are,” he told The Ringer. “I thought, ‘Everyone here is mad at me, and I need to address that I did a show that no one liked.’ Well, they also came just to see you.”

Being funny on ‘SNL’ may not always translate to a sitcom

Mulaney returned to the road and discovered his standup was truly the backbone of his comedy. But he also found love and accolades on Broadway and even with animation and a children’s show.

“I don’t like to say I’m glad it didn’t work because a lot of people lose a job,” he said to The Washington Post. “But I’m glad it didn’t work. It was like, the best thing that ever happened.”

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“It’s always better when you do your thing, and make people come to you,” Mulaney said. “You can only meet the audience halfway. If you’re trying to meet them 70 percent of the way, and begging for 30, you’re going to be seen as desperate.”

And while Kenan is anticipated to be a welcome addition to sitcom family programming, Thompson said he still has no plans to leave SNL. “That’s the forever plan,” Thompson told The Washington Post in 2019. “To never have to leave that show.”