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Kenan Thompson Talks 'Sit Down, Shut Up' , 'SNL' And More

May 7th, 2009 10:44am EDT
Kenan ThompsonSit Down, Shut Up may be one of the more brilliant shows to premiere this television season. Produced by the creators of, and starring half the cast of, Arrested Development, the show already has comedy street cred. (Unfortunately, just like it's highly acclaimed predecessor, Sit down, Shut Up may be in trouble. It's hard to ignore the show's being moved 90 minutes earlier to the Sunday night at 7 pm, "I know you're watching 60 Minutes," time slot. Hopefully, Fox will not make the same mistake twice.) Saturday Night Live's Kenan Thompson, who provides the voice for the school's principal, Sue, discusses how he beat out an actual female for the role and gives his opinion on, yes, Will Forte's love for moustaches.

Mike: How did you get involved with Sit Down, Shut Up?

Kenan: The people that are doing it are the Arrested Development people and a lot of those people are very close to the people at SNL, so, I got a chance to try out for it. I think I was the last one picked, actually.

Mike: You know, Arrested Development -- with Mitch Hurwitz involved in Sit Down, Shut Up - would reward longtime viewers; they would reference something that happened 15 episodes before. Do you think Sit Down, Shut Up will do the same thing?

Kenan: I hope so. I know the comedy is very, very smart. A lot of these jokes are way over my head. I'm sure they're going to be making some strange references.

Mike: Your character is the principal, Sue. When you first got involved was the character always going to be female?

Kenan: Yeah, the character was female before I was hired. They had another lady doing the voice; I guess they wanted more sassiness to it so they hired the sassiest professional ... which is me (laughs).

Kenan Thompson



Mike: That's funny. So originally it was going to be voiced by an actual female?

Kenan: Yeah, it was an actual female. And they were like, "Well, I don't know, let's just try to do it with the guys voice doing a funny version of a female's voice." You know how guys do those exaggerations of a female voice? And I guess they liked it.

Mike: When you do the voice-over work, do you ever do it with any of the other actors? Or are you usually by yourself?

Kenan: I'm usually by myself. Me and [Will] Forte usually do it; I'll go in for an hour and he'll go in right behind me because we're the only ones in New York.

Mike: I assumed you and Forte did it together.

Kenan: I think we get a lot more done, faster, when people just do their individual parts.

Mike: I recently did an interview with Will and it was brought up how much he enjoys wearing a moustache on Saturday Night Live. I'm quite surprised his Sit Down, Shut Up character does not have a moustache. When you pass him in the hallway is he wearing a moustache when he goes in to do his voice over work?

Kenan: (Long laugh) Yeah, he has this fake moustache he keeps in his backpack. But it's a strange transformation he goes through when he puts a moustache on. It's very funny. It's like automatic douchebag. It's crazy!

Mike: How would you define the relationship between Stuart (Will Forte) and Sue?

Kenan: It's pretty much the same relationship she has with all the faculty. She's kind of the one in charge but doesn't really want to be because if anything goes wrong, it will be her fault. She's just making sure everyone half-ass does their job so they don't get in trouble. She tries to find a way to raise more money so she doesn't have to cut their salaries in half or change some kind of shitty existence they're already living in.




Mike: How many episodes so far this season?

Kenan: Voice-over wise? We've done ten.

Mike: You're [at the time of the interview] sandwiched between The Simpsons and Family Guy, but it's so different than those two shows ... in a good way. The humor is more nuanced.

Kenan: Definitely. It's a newer look in animation, I think.

Mike: Yeah, it uses real life footage with animated characters.

Kenan: The background is real, yeah. It's also interesting because the students are dulled down, as far as their appearance is concerned, so you can tell what the show is about. It's really cool.

Mike: You're the source of, perhaps, my only, kind of, television personality freak-out moment. I watched SNL from the writers' room the night Tracy Morgan hosted.

Kenan: (Laughs) Oh yeah , right.

Mike: You know, I've been a big SNL fan my whole life and it didn't really sink in until we took that left down the hallway right before the studio. When we did, you were standing there and I remember looking back and saying, "Hey! That was Kenan!"

Kenan: (Laughs) Well, I am happy I could provide that excitement for you.

Mike: OK, last thing, and this is a reader question...

Kenan: OK.

Mike: Does your Jean K. Jean character on SNL have any deliberate similarities to Pierre Escargot [from All That]?

Kenan: Nah. They're just both French.

Mike Ryan
"Mike's Pulse" is a column written by transplanted Midwesterner and current New Yorker Mike Ryan. For any compliments or complaints -- preferably the former -- you may contact Mike directly at miker@starpulse.com
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