Those bits, scripted by Tucker and Michael Che, are a rehash of an old Will Ferrell franchise, Thompson points out—though Thompson owns the role of host Darnell Hayes (a.k.a. “Alex Treblack”) so completely that I had never thought of it that way. Still, hes proud of the sketches. “Its nice when you can make a nice living-room splash like that,” he says, “when it becomes, like, dinner talk: Oh my God, they were so on point with this, or so on point with that. ”
The newer hires—even though Zamata has left the show, its now got Jones, Che, Redd, Melissa Villaseñor, and Ego Nwodim on its roster—have allowed S.N.L. to explore difficult subject matter (which, to be clear, Thompson has never avoided) with more complexity. Thompson and Jones recently did a sketch based on R. Kellys flabbergasting interview with Gayle King, in which the musician claimed innocence against the charges of sexual misconduct that have marred his career for decades. How do you tackle a subject like that, doing an impersonation of one of the most reviled men in R&B without belittling the seriousness of the subject?
According to Thompson, the key is not to worry too much about the impersonation. “Its like [you] dont even really want to get that close to being that guy,” he says. “You know what Im saying? Id rather point out the absurdities of that interview. But not that the situation is absurd. And then it was written very well down that road, too—him wanting to be called victim and that stuff, too. It just helped play into that Im innocent, man. And that could be anybody. But we all know that its R. Kelly because Im dressed like him, and Im talking to Gayle.”
Even in a situation like this, what matters most to Thompson is finding the bright spots in a dark story—for all of our sakes. “We want some relief of the pressure of the seriousness of everything,” he says. “You know what Im saying? Like, I know its serious, but that interview is kind of funny. And itd be kind of funny to laugh at him, if we can find a way thats not disrespectful of the situation.
“And it also keeps it fun for me. Doesnt make it such a heady type of approach. Its stressful enough doing live TV, you know what I mean? I might as well have fun.”
Its a reflective tone he hits more than once during our interview. Again, Thompson never says whether hell be leaving his post at S.N.L.; weeks after we speak, hell tell Ellen DeGeneres that he plans to stick around, maybe until 2020. “Its the best job in the world,” Thompson will say. “I cant see myself just walking away from it like that.”
When we speak, though, Thompson certainly seems toRead More – Source