‘SNL’: Kenan Thompson Auditioned to Anchor ‘Weekend Update’ but Jokes ‘It Didn’t Work Out’

The Weekend Update desk at Saturday Night Live could have had a different duo if enduring cast member Kenan Thompson made the cut.

Thompson revealed on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen he actually tried out for the role. “Oh yeah, I tried out,” he shared. “I dressed up and did the full anchor desk audition and all that. It didn’t work out.” And while Thompson didn’t end up as an anchor, his Weekend Update characters have made a huge impact on viewers.

Michael Che and Kenan Thompson as Michael's Neighbor Willie during 'Weekend Update'
Michael Che and Kenan Thompson as Michael’s Neighbor Willie during ‘Weekend Update’ |Will Heath/NBC

Kenan Thompson still has a big presence at ‘Weekend Update’

Thompson brought stars like Whoopie Goldberg, Jean K. Jean, and LaVar Ball to life on Weekend Update. He also created “Willie” who plays anchor Michael Che’s ridiculously optimistic neighbor. Willie shares his deliriously hopeful observations on holidays and graduation to even Covid-19.

During a Dec. appearance, Willie tells Che he’d been searching for the Covid vaccine since March. “Well you know, I go down to the city park,” he said. “Pick up some needles on the grass. Try them out. If you want to hit the lotto, you gotta crack some eggs!”

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Thompson also leaves Colin Jost and Che in stitches thanks to his David Ortiz delivery at the anchor desk. His 2015 “Big Papi” appearance allowed him to discuss retirement plans. “Plans” included being a spokesman for Welp, BeeWorld, and Super Chunky Cheesy Bites.

Thompson currently holds the record for being the longest SNL cast member, starring for 17 seasons. He shared he’s not finished with the series just yet. “I have a certain number I would love to get to,” he told Variety. “I think 20 is a good, round, even number that I’m close to.”

He added, “I feel like that is in reach, but also it would be respected if I don’t get there. Like, 18 is fine, 19 is fine. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is, will I have time for my family? There’s only 24 hours in a day.”

Kenan Thompson also shared a sweet memory of Alex Trebek

Thompson, who hosted the Black Jeopardy sketch revealed that when he met with Trebek, the iconic game show host knew of Black Jeopardy.

“That was the first thing he mentioned,” Thompson shared on the Hot Ones podcast, The New York Post reports. “He actually said, ‘God bless you for figuring out a way to do a Jeopardy! behind the legendary Will Ferrell Jeopardy! You know, seems like anything Will Ferrell’s kind of, like, holy grail-ish, off-limits-ish, you know?”

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Thompson said meeting Trebek was incredible. “So he was patting me on the back about that, but I was patting him on the back for probably being one of the smartest people in the world because it seems like he knows the answer to all those Jeopardy! questions,” he recalled. “He has a way of responding to each question like, ‘No, of course, it’s this and that and the other, because I read this book or I know about this historic town in Rome’ . . . He was incredible.”