‘SNL’ Cold Open Tackles Student Protests With Kenan Thompson as a Columbia Dad

The NBC series took on the country’s most hot-button issue by largely side-stepping it

This week’s “Saturday Night Live” cold open tackled the topic that’s been at the forefront of the news the last few weeks: the student protests at college campuses across the country. But with such a politically charged topic, “SNL” largely chose to duck controversy, instead tackling the issue of students protesting the war in Gaza through the lens of a dad upset at how much tuition money he’s paying for his daughter at Columbia University.

Kenan Thompson played said dad in the cold open, which presented an episode of “Community Affairs” on Spectrum News. Flanked by other parents played by Mikey Day and Heidi Gardner, Thompson’s character was sporting a Columbia sweatshirt. When Day and Gardner’s characters mentioned their conflicted feelings about the protests, Thompson’s character jumped in with his support.

But when he was asked about his daughter at the protests, Thompson corrected them – “I am supportive of y’all’s kids protests. Not my kid,” he said. “That’s good for y’all’s kids. But they ain’t mine.”

When Gardner’s character said one of her worst fears was her kid being arrested, Thompson’s character responded, “I ain’t worried about 5-0. That is not my business. My business is Alexis Vanessa Roberts. She ain’t talkin’ about no free this, free that because I’ll tell you what ain’t free: Columbia. Shoot, we all know they got the nerve to want $68,000 a year.”

He continued, talking about his own struggle to pay tuition.

“I Uber all day, Uber Eats all night, cut grass on the weekends, sell Gucci wallets out of my trunk. I bounty hunt whenever possible,” he said. “All of that just so she can say she got a degree in African American studies. It’s like look girl, you’ve been Black your whole life. You know what it is.”

His character then spoke about his eagerness to see his daughter graduate, but when Gardner’s character cautioned that some graduations had been canceled, he said, “Alexis Vanessa will be graduating even if I gotta do it myself.”

That about wrapped things up, as the NBC show declined to get any deeper with its probing of the protests as the demonstrations grew more heated this past week and have drawn divisive reactions from those in the media.


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