Kenan Thompson Backs College Protests in 'SNL' Opener, But Not for His Daughter

SNL blends comedy with real-world issues in new sketch

by Zain ul Abedin
Kenan Thompson Backs College Protests in 'SNL' Opener, But Not for His Daughter
© Theo Wargo/Getty Images

"Saturday Night Live" deftly wove humor and topical issues in its latest episode, capturing the nuances of parental concern amid student protests. The episode, featuring the multi-talented Dua Lipa as both host and musical guest, opened with a parody talk show.

Here, Michael Longfellow, portraying the host, engaged with parents (played by Heidi Gardner, Mikey Day, and Kenan Thompson) whose children are embroiled in the protests that have seized headlines nationwide. Amidst heightened tensions at universities, Longfellow probed the parents about their children's involvement in the protests, particularly those against Israel's military actions in Gaza.

Gardner and Day's characters shared their apprehensions about their children's safety and political engagements. However, Kenan Thompson's portrayal added a comedic twist to the scenario. Initially supportive, his character proudly endorsed young people's activism, emphasizing the importance of fighting for their beliefs.

Thompson's Parental Quandary

The conversation took a humorous turn when Longfellow inquired about Thompson's daughter, a student at Columbia University. Thompson's sudden shift from support to concern was delivered with his trademark comedic timing, expressing dismay at the idea of his daughter participating directly in the protests.

“Alexis Vanessa Roberts better have her butt in class. Let me find out that she’s in one of those damn tents instead of the dorm room that I paid for,” Thompson's character exclaimed, drawing laughter with his exaggerated portrayal of a protective parent.

Thompson humorously differentiated his support for protests, highlighting a 'not in my backyard' sentiment that resonated with the audience. He quipped about the financial burdens of university tuition, which added a layer of relatability for many viewers.

“Nothing makes me prouder than young people using their voices, unless it’s my daughter at a protest because I’ll tell you what ain’t free – Columbia!” he joked, alluding to the hefty tuition fees he works tirelessly to afford through multiple gigs, from Uber driving to selling Gucci wallets.

The episode also briefly touched on the broader scope of the protests at Columbia University, where tensions escalated to the point of requiring NYPD intervention. The detailed arrest statistics provided a sobering reminder of the scale and impact of the protests, with a significant number of those detained not affiliated with the institutions involved.