Live from New York … Well, not always.
There was a four-year span when “Saturday Night Live’s” Kenan Thompson called Henderson home. “Henderson holds a place in my heart because I met my wife there and had my kids there without spending a million dollars living in Los Angeles,” said the man who used to commute between Sin City and the Big Apple.
Ask Thompson his “most excessive” Vegas behavior and he doesn’t hesitate.
“Two words, or maybe it’s one — Fatburger,” said the 41-year-old Atlanta native. “I’d wake up at four in the morning back when I was single, go get a Fatburger and play blackjack at one of the Station Casinos. That was my kind of Vegas.”
Thompson — “SNL’s” longest active cast member at 16 seasons — returns to town on June 19, to host the NHL Awards. He’ll also be back on “SNL” in the fall, and is developing his first NBC sitcom, “The Kenan Show.”
Review-Journal: What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
Kenan Thompson: I used to go to church a lot growing up in Georgia. Nowadays, Sunday is often my only day off. So, it’s all about hanging out with the babies (ages 1 and 5). We’ll go out and have a nice brunch as a family and then spend the day at home reconnecting as a family. I’m often going to tea parties and having my nails painted. I’m a daddy of girls. I do the whole deal. Your childhood is only once.
How does it feel to come back to Vegas to host the NHL Awards?
Oh man, I can’t wait. I’m studying up. I’m reading about the players. I’m doing my homework. … My relationship with the NHL has been so wonderful. At so many of the games, teams play the old ‘‘Mighty Ducks’’ clips with me and the people always cheer. I have this unique tie to hockey. You could say my ‘‘Mighty Ducks’’ past is what baptized me into the hockey world.
Were you a sporty kid?
I did play football, basketball and baseball. But it was never hockey with me because we didn’t have a lot of the sport in Atlanta. I really learned about hockey on the set of the ‘‘Mighty Ducks’’ movies. That’s where I fell in love with it.
What’s your favorite memory of being a Duck?
Meeting Emilio Estevez was huge. He was so gracious with us kids. I remember he rented out this go-kart place for us one day. He spent all this money on a bunch of unknown kids. I also remember going to hockey camp, which was really hard and painful.
When was the first time you visited Vegas?
The very first time was when I was 16 or 17. I remember I stayed at Circus Circus and that was fun.
Why move to Henderson?
I was trying to stay close to Los Angeles, but I didn’t want to pay L.A. prices. So, I lived in Henderson for several years, which was perfect. It was close enough to go to L.A. for meetings, but I could have this nice life that wasn’t crazy expensive in Henderson. You didn’t need to spend a million dollars. I lived there for four years.
What were your hangouts?
I hung out at Lake Las Vegas, which is so nice and tucked away. I like quiet and not too much mayhem. I would rarely go to the Strip unless I wanted to play blackjack, which I did at the Palms. I’d hang out at Station Casinos, too.
You’re were already on “SNL.” Did you get noticed a lot at Station Casinos?
Not necessarily. At Station, they didn’t pay too much attention to New York comedy guys. It was more about … how much is the buffet? They did have some delicious buffets.
Tell us about your new sitcom.
It’s the absolute dream to have a sitcom on a major network like NBC. I’ll play a widowed father with two young daughters. He’s new and different in that he’s a little bit uptight because he recently experienced tragedy. That’s the set up. I don’t know exactly when it’s going to come out, but I couldn’t be happier about it.
Fans are thrilled you’re also staying on “SNL.”
I’m really glad to be staying. I just love Lorne Michaels (“SNL” creator) for helping me figure it out. I can do both shows. I like to have a good time and both are a real good time.
Sixteen years on “SNL.” What host has left you the most star struck?
Tom Hanks was a big one for me. He’s so cool. You get over it quickly that he’s Tom Hanks because he’s that friendly. It’s unbelievable. Dave Chappelle was another one who left me a bit star struck. He’s just such a huge talent. As far as the musical guests go, it doesn’t get much better than meeting Paul McCartney. … You have six days to work with these people. That’s why I don’t want to run away from it. There is not another situation like ‘‘SNL.’’
Favorite sketch? And can you please bring back, “What’s Up With That?”
I do love when we do ‘‘Family Feud’’ because so much of the cast is involved. It’s an awesome way to display that much talent. As for ‘‘What’s Up With That,’’ yeah, I need to call up Sudeikis, Hader and Armisen. Those are my three guys.
You’re Daddy to two girls. Are you a big pile of mush?
Yes, my girls are 5 and 1. Oh man, it’s like I’m twice wrapped around their little fingers. They’re just so sweet. I feel that girls straighten you out a lot quicker than boys. With girls, I feel like I have to protect this beautiful little child all the time and play stuffed animals and have my nails painted pink. Whatever they want.
Does your older daughter watch “SNL?”
My big girl gets it. There’s Daddy on TV! She tries to stay up on Saturday nights, but mostly catches the first two minutes and then passes out.
One last hockey question: What will you do if the Vegas Golden Knights need you?
Vegas needs me? I’m gonna lace up. I can still skate, you know.
Well, that’s nice, but … thinking more of you coming to a game and sounding the siren.
When … when do you need me?