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Kenan Thompson: Kanye West Held SNL Cast ‘Hostage’ During Pro-Trump Speech

Longest-running cast member of sketch comedy series spoke with Seth Meyers about unaired, controversial moment

Kenan Thompson stopped by Late Night With Seth Meyers to detail his perspective on Kanye West’s controversial, unaired speech after the cameras stopped rolling on this weekend’s Saturday Night Live season premiere. This is Thompson’s 16th season of the show, making him the series’ longest-running cast-member of all time.

Thompson began by noting that he wasn’t in the episode much. “I did my part in the monologue and then got to watch the circus unfold,” he offers slyly before Meyers inquired about the post-show speech from West.

The show had ended with a performance from West, who delivered his Ye track “Ghost Town” with Kid Cudi and 070 Shake as the credits were rolling. The live show cut off due to its time constraints as the song unfolded and right as West invited the cast to rejoin him onstage. Chris Rock and other audience members captured West in his restyled red ‘Make America Great Again’ hat as he defended his pro-Trump stance. A mixture of cheers and boos were shouted from the audience.

“We’re all entitled to our opinion,” Thompson offered up measuredly, “I don’t know if that’s the moment, necessarily, to hold people hostage like that, but hey…”

Thompson noted that he did not remain on stage for the moment. He had gone backstage to watch the performance on a screen the way the audience at home would see it.

“I felt so bad for those guys because it’s hard to stand there and not be able to debate somebody who goes so far against your personal opinion and just stand there and take it,” the recent Emmy winner said of his castmates. Thompson and Meyer elaborated on the purpose of the SNL cast as people in the “service business” who are there to cater to the hosts and musical guests, making sure they have the best show possible.

“When musical guests come in and they’re a little bit crazy, maybe they’re a little bit crazy, we let ’em have that,” he jokes. “We don’t judge. We’re not there to judge.”

Later in the interview, Thompson talked about this year’s Emmy awards. He won his first-ever Emmy this year for the song “Come Back Barack” and was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor, which he lost to Henry Winkler. Thompson noted that Winkler had sent him a letter following his win, congratulating him on the nomination in their shared category and win for Outstanding Music and Lyrics.

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