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The quiet brilliance of Kenan Thompson | The Washington Post

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The quiet brilliance of Kenan Thompson | The Washington Post

How SNL’s longest-tenured cast member went from child star to the sketch show’s indispensable steady hand.

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NEW YORK — Kenan Thompson is a sketch-comedy savant.

He’s seen how the tiniest diversion — uttering an errant word, glancing in the wrong direction, taking a half-second too long to rip off tearaway clothes — can create a disruption.

“He’s a master in that studio,” says “Saturday Night Live” executive producer Lorne Michaels. “He knows the best way to do just about everything.”

That includes realizing how distracting it would be for the audience to know there’s a performer with a broken arm. So when the SNL star got into a bike accident on his way to work four years ago, his first thought was: “ ‘Oh my God, I have to go to the hospital, but I don’t want it to be a story.’ ”