Kenan Thompson kicked off the 74th Emmy Awards with a musical number that brought together dozens of dancers, metal guitar players and a walk through television’s past.
The television industry‘s biggest night began with the “Saturday Night Live” and “Kenan” star chronicling some of TV’s most iconic theme songs through dance.
“We’ve always been able to sing to them, but we’ve never been able to dance to them. Until now,” Thompson said of the “legally cleared” theme songs.
With the help of his dance team, colorful props and energetic choreography, Thompson launched his performance by swinging a red umbrella, “Singin’ in the Rain”-style, to the beloved “Friends” theme.
Next in the opening sequence was a remix of “The Brady Bunch” theme, with a cameo from the surviving original cast members seated at a table together. Then came an edgy remix of the “Law & Order: SVU” opening, and a quick cameo from Ice-T (or rather, Thompson as the “SVU” actor, whom he has portrayed on “SNL”).
Rounding out the theme-song compilation were remixes of “Stranger Things” — featuring a snippet of Metallica’s “Masters of Puppets”— and “Game of Thrones,” complete with Thompson donning a blond wig in tribute to Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen.
In August, NBC enlisted the longtime “Saturday Night Live” cast member to host its annual television awards show. He followed fellow comedian Cedric the Entertainer, who got the party started last year with a tribute to the late Biz Markie.
“I feel great. There’s a great team that’s involved,” the multi-time Emmy nominee told The Times. “I definitely don’t feel like I’m floating out there by myself. I’m really excited about it. There’s some great pieces coming together.”
Thompson expected to take a simple approach — “a good monologue and keeping the energy up” — to ensure an entertaining night. But his measure of success is the “jokes landing.”
“If there’s a musical number, have to nail that too,” he said. “I just need to do my part.”
The 74th Emmys are airing tonight on NBC live from Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theater. Going into the ceremony, HBO’s “Succession” and Apple TV+’s “Ted Lasso” scored the most nominations with 25 and 20 nods, respectively.