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SNL's Kenan Thompson talks longevity, diversity before Temple gig

Monday night, "SNL" staple Kenan Thompson performed at Temple University. An audience of more than 300 students who grew up with Thompson from "All That" to "Kenan and Kel" listened as he talked about his rise to fame, comedy and cannabis.

Monday night, Saturday Night Live staple Kenan Thompson performed at Temple University as an Xfinity Professor of Entertainment.  An audience of more than 300 college students who grew up with Thompson from All That to Kenan and Kel listened as he talked about comedy, cannabis, and his rise to fame. The Atlanta native even shared a special bonding moment  with the Temple mascot, the Hooters owl, bringing him in for a bear hug.

The floor was open for a Q&A. Who is the funniest person he's met? He can't decide and he considers that a blessing. Favorite memory from Kenan and Kel? Getting the job. Would there be a Good Burger 2? He hopes so.

The Inquirer sat down with him before the show

How often do you get to do stand-up?

It's only at colleges so it's not even technically stand-up. I talk about myself and do a Q&A so it's more of stand-up by definition than execution.

Why colleges?

At the moment, they're a very receptive audience. I can pull that off, where I kind of talk and have funny anecdotes along the way. If I was doing a weekend at Carolines or something it would have to be way more straightforward joke-telling and I've never really worked up a set like that.

Would you say that each era had its own style of comedy?

I think it's more on the individual as far as style is concerned. If the tone of comedy is much darker you have to go much farther to get the laugh because people have kind of seen and heard everything these days.

How do you keep up?

It's easy for us because we do a live show and that keeps us on our toes. There's a lot of theaters in New York, you can always go out and be around a lot of like-minded comedians. I just watch a lot of TV. [laughs]

What's your favorite show?

It was Sons of Anarchy for a long time ... but that's gone now. I'm watching Better Call Saul.

After you talk to the students today what do you want them to leave feeling and knowing?

I want to open an eye or two about what being an actor is really like because it's not all red carpets and photo shoots. It's like trying to get that job and going from job to job.

You've been on SNL for 13 seasons. What do you think has contributed to your longevity on the show?

I'm very friendly. I get along with people. Honestly, I don't really know. I just try to deliver the laughs every time I get the opportunity.

What do you want your SNL legacy to be?

Just the fact that I kept the wheel turning. It's a 40-year-old show now, I want to see it do another [40]... I never want my time there to be the one that grinded it all to a halt.

Everyone's talking about the "The Day Beyonce turned black" sketch. What did you think about it?

Diversity on SNL has been a hot-button topic, have you grown weary of the question?

Diversity is a good thing. Everybody should have it. It is on everybody's mind ... or at least when they talk to me. It's fine, there's nothing wrong with with it. I just don't want people to ever take things out of context.

That's what happened the last time?

It's happened to me a few times. I get it, sometimes people are looking for headlines to get those clicks but it really shines me in a bad light. I try to be careful.