Kenan Thompson

Active - 1994 - 2020  |   Born - May 10, 1978 in Atlanta, Georgia, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Children's/Family

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Biography by Nathan Southern

Best known for his 2005 live-action rendering of the Bill Cosby character Fat Albert on the big screen -- a character he brought to life with the aid of a trusty fat suit and the trademark, "Hey, Hey, Hey!" -- wunderkind comic Kenan Thompson honed his skills as a small fry by entertaining classmates with uproarious comedy routines on the playground in his childhood home of Atlanta. Thompson landed his big break by auditioning at age 15 for All That, a Nickelodeon sketch comedy series that (like The Mickey Mouse Club of years prior) functioned as a kind of unofficial petri dish for burgeoning young talent. Series producer and director Brian Robbins reportedly viewed Thompson's audition, tagged his ability to mimic and his comic timing as "dead-on," and hired the young man on the spot. The young comic wowed Nickelodeon, and network heads not only offered him his own sitcom within a year, co-starring another young schtickmeister, Kel Mitchell, but a network-produced movie, the 1997 Good Burger (also starring Mitchell).

Numerous additional film roles ensued, and though Mitchell began with goofy, schtick-heavy comedies (Master of Disguise [2002], My Boss' Daughter [2003]), he periodically revealed an interest in stretching his ability into other genres, such as avant-garde/experimental video (Public Lighting [2004]) and action-saturated horror (Snakes on a Plane [2006]). In 2008, however, Thompson hearkened back to comedy by voicing one of the titular primates in the goofy live-action fantasy Space Chimps. Meanwhile, alongside his film work, Thompson achieved even greater success on the small screen. His debut series, All That, had been conveniently described by more than one critic as "SNL for the small set," and paved the way for Thompson's involvement in the real Saturday Night Live; he joined the SNL cast in 2003.

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  • Self-described shy nerd and member of the National Honor Society in high school.
  • Said his mother raised him to be a Southern gentleman.
  • Breakout role was in 1995 on Nickelodeon's sketch-comedy show All That, which led to a spin-off series (Kenan & Kel) and a movie (1997's Good Burger) with costar Kel Mitchell. 
  • Joined the cast of Saturday Night Live in 2003. 
  • Wore a fat suit that weighed more than 20 pounds for the lead role in 2004's Fat Albert.
  • Has been doing an impression of Bill Cosby since he was a kid, but when he first met Cosby on the Fat Albert set and performed it for him, Cosby did not laugh.