An ongoing theme of last night’s Emmys coverage is that there’s just more TV than even the most voracious among us can consume, so I won’t bother asking if anyone’s been watching How To with John Wilson – but that show is where I became aware of the Mandela Effect: things you think are true that aren’t, actually…
One of those, for me, is that it seemed impossible Kenan Thompson hadn’t hosted the Emmys before now, but I don’t know why I’m surprised, since it seems like they had to get everyone else who’s worked in live TV to host first… only to have us forget about all of them once Kenan started swaggering through the audience (on a Monday, why was the show on a Monday!?).
That feeling of calm and ease when he lands his jokes without breaking a sweat or even that grin of accomplishment that someone like a Seth Meyers allows? That’s so specifically Kenan. He even threw in some dance moves to prove nothing phases him. And while the whole theme song motif went on way too long and was not a good enough reason to have the cast of The Brady Bunch there, I appreciated the elbow in the ribs about ‘have you seen Living Single?’ because, seriously… have you?
Kenan didn’t break a sweat, but he did smirk at us many times – when he played with SNL castmate Bowen Yang, or crowd-pleased his millennial audience with the appearance of Kel Mitchell (!!!) or helped Lizzo affect the appearance of twerking (!!!!!) – and did it all with a level of slightly laconic chill that implies he knows the show itself is a little goofy, but he’s here with us, which makes the goofiness warranted (because who wants TV to take itself too seriously?) and also makes the production legitimate (because see above where Kenan is driving).
That’s why, despite all the reasons to be annoyed with Pete Davidson (“…I didn’t show up to rehearsal”) he gets to stay, because the upshot of his time at the mic was all about how utterly effortless Kenan appears, even though he’s actually incredibly hardworking.
The man got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this summer – another thing that seems like it should have happened years ago – and treats each new challenge like it’s as easy as the cool blue suit he wore to say good night.