Tina Fey? Colin Jost? Kenan Thompson on Who Might Take Over for Lorne Michaels on ‘Saturday Night Live’

Thompson suggests Che, Jost and one other surprising candidate
Tina Fey? Colin Jost? Kenan Thompson on Who Might Take Over for Lorne Michaels on ‘Saturday Night Live’

With Season 48 of Saturday Night Live likely in the books due to the writers’ strike, we have a moment to peer into the sucky void that will be created when Lorne Michaels leaves the show. The long-time producer has indicated he’s very likely hanging up his spurs after Season 50, so welcome to Comedy Succession. Which of Lorne’s children will be entrusted to run Waystar Roy … er, SNL? (I mean, we love them but they’re not serious people.) And which SNL lifers might get backstabbed along the way? Kenan Thompson speculated along with Dana Carvey and David Spade on this week’s Fly on the Wall podcast, creating a list of usual suspects and surprising darkhorse candidates.

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First, there are the famous names, both past and present. Carvey apparently has a list typed into his Blackberry, candidates that he threw at Kenan for his reaction. “Seth Meyers? Tina Fey?” asked Carvey.

Yes and yes, says Thompson, giving special consideration to “anybody that's been a person with a pencil in their back pocket for a week, you know, just fishing for jokes.” Fey and Meyers get credit in Thompson’s eyes for knowing the structure of the show. “Seth, Tina, any one of them that had a had a good run with the show and enjoy it.” 

Other candidates? The first name out of Thompson’s mouth, “hands down,” was Jimmy Fallon sidekick, Please Don’t Destroy father (of John) and longtime SNL writer/producer Steve Higgins. Makes sense, the guy’s been around even longer than Kenan, starting as a writer in 1995. “Higgins is a no-brainer.”

Thompson throws out more behind-the-scenes names that won’t get anyone’s pulse racing, even if they’re deserving: writer/producer Erik Kenward (with the show since 2000) and writer Erin Doyle (putting in the work since 2010). But what about the current cast?

Both Colin Jost and Michael Che could handle the gig, says Thompson. And then he threw out another interesting candidate, especially since the longest-tenured cast member in SNL history has gone on the record saying the show should end when Lorne leaves. And that candidate is Kenan Thompson.

Carvey seems surprised that Thompson nominated himself. “Would you entertain it if they approached you?” 

“Oh yeah!” Thompson said. “Why not? It will keep me in New York, it will keep me in a stable environment, which is hard for an actor.” Carvey takes the opportunity to write the name on his list, an action Thompson endorses. “Write it down! Put it in the universe.”

Spade likes Thompson’s credentials. “You’re interesting because you’re twenty years (on the show). You know every in and out. If you just perked your ears up to budgets and stuff, you could figure it out.” 

But there's more to the job, Thompson reminds Spade. Lorne is such a rock star that he can pick up the phone and cash in a favor with a show-biz legend at nearly any time. Pick a Paul – McCartney, Simon, Rudd – available on demand. And don’t forget the way Lorne keeps the network bigwigs away from the cast, creating a comedy safe space. “He's just an OG.”

He’s the defacto dad, agrees Carvey.

How does one apply for SNL Defacto Dad? A call to NBC Human Resources is probably the first step. And with the writers’ strike upon us, Kenan has a little time to polish up his resume.

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