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Stay Tuned: Kenan Thompson rise to fame and appeal to 90's kids

By Alex Sferrazza
On November 25, 2012



Tomorrow evening, the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts will be hosting comic Kenan Thompson. A stranger to nearly no college student born in the 90's, the former Nickelodeon star and current cast member of "Saturday Night Live" is an iconic comedian for those who grew up watching his shows. 

Of course, Kenan Thompson came to prominence, to most audiences, in 1994. That year marked the debut of Thompson in the children's feature film "D2: The Mighty Ducks" as hockey player Russ Tyler. 

However, 1994 also marked the premiere of the show that launched Thompson's career into stardom, a show that arguably defined a generation of kids who laughed at its wild comedic antics, "All That."  Described by the press as the "little brother" of "Saturday Night Live,"  the sketch comedy/variety show featured Thompson in a variety of popular character roles including the titular role in the segment "Everyday French with Pierre Escargot"  and construction worker Lester Oats.

The sketch comedy series foreshadowed Thompson's future career on Saturday Night Live.

Following up on the success of "All That." Thompson would go on to co-star with fellow "All That" cast member Kel Mitchell on the popular sitcom "Kenan and Kel," which ran for four seasons on Nickelodeon from 1996-2000.  The pair were also teamed together in the cult 1997 hit film "Good Burger" based on the popular "All That" sketch.

Since his Nickelodeon days, Thompson has enjoyed a film career as well with roles such as "Fat Albert," "Snakes on a Plane" and "Barbershop 2."

His Nickelodeon days behind him, in 2003 Thompson began his tenure on the long running sketch comedy program "Saturday Night Live".  An accomplished impressionist, Thompson has expertly portrayed celebrities and politicians alike including Al Roker, Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Harvey, Jimmy McMillan, and Herman Cain among numerous others.

Of course just as he did years ago on "All That," Thompson has amassed a stable collection of popular recurring characters on SNL.  Notable characters have included Deandre Cole, the host of the fictitious BET "talk" show "What's Up with That?" and Lorenzo McIntosh an imprisoned convict who uses movie references in "scared straight" programs for juvenile delinquents.

Thompson has enjoyed one of the longest tenures in SNL history since joining the cast,. Now in his tenth season, Thompson is tied with Tim Meadows for the fifth longest tenure in the show's storied history.

Whether you've been a fan since the Nickelodeon days, watched Kenan on SNL, or both, it is undeniable that Kenan Thompson has become a comedy icon for the kids who grew up in the 90's and 2000's.  Thompson will be performing at the Jorgenson Center for the Performing Arts tomorrow at 7 p.m.  

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