Kenan Thompson Backs College Protests, Draws Line at Daughter in ‘SNL’ Opener

In the latest episode of Saturday Night Live, which aired over the weekend, the show delved into one of the most talked-about news events of the week by featuring a cold open that depicted concerned parents of New York City college students amidst ongoing protests. The episode, notably hosted by international pop sensation Dua Lipa—who also doubled as the musical guest, saw cast member Michael Longfellow playing the role of a talk show host. He was joined by fellow cast members Heidi Gardner, Mikey Day, and Kenan Thompson, who portrayed the anxious parents.

The skit opened with Longfellow acknowledging the current uneasy climate pervading university campuses across the nation, prompting feedback from his guests on the situation. While the characters played by Gardner and Day voiced apprehension over their children’s participation in the protests against Israel’s military actions against Hamas, Thompson’s character stood out by expressing his support for the cause, applauding young individuals for standing up for their beliefs.

However, the segment took a comedic turn when Longfellow inquired specifically about Thompson’s thoughts on his daughter’s involvement in the protests. Thompson humorously backtracked on his supportive stance upon realizing his own child could be participating, leading to a series of comedic contradictions. He emphasized that while he backed student activism broadly, he expected his own children to prioritize their education given the high cost of tuition at Columbia University—jokingly referencing his multiple jobs to afford the $68,000 yearly fee.

The episode mirrored real-life events at Columbia University, where protesters had barricaded themselves within Hamilton Hall, prompting the university to call upon the New York City Police Department. The pro-Palestinian protests, extending beyond Columbia to The City College of New York, led to the arrest of 282 individuals in total, raising concerns about the involvement of people not associated with the universities—29% at Columbia and a significant 60% at The City College.

This skit, apart from providing the requisite SNL humor, reflected the show’s longstanding tradition of engaging with and satirizing contemporary political and social issues. With its nuanced take on the sensitivities surrounding educational institutions, student activism, and the financial burdens of higher education, the episode struck a chord with audiences, underscoring the complexity of parental support in the face of youthful advocacy and the realities of the economic commitments tied to elite education.


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