Sep. 27, 2013 at 10:57 AM ET
Funnyman Kenan Thompson has some big shoes to fill as "Saturday Night Live" kicks off season 39 — yes, 39! — this weekend. Although Thompson has been with the show for 11 seasons, this will be his first one as the senior cast member.
That's because last season was a farewell one for show vets Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Jason Sudeikis (on the heels of Kristen Wiig and Andy Samberg's exits the year before). And before the season is out, Seth Meyers will be moving on as well.
So, is Thompson feeling any pressure with his new old-guard role?
"Yeah, super-duper," he explained during a Friday morning visit to TODAY. "That's a lot of pressure, man. Like, Will Ferrell and Chris Rock and all those guys — just to even be mentioned in the same sentence as those guys is like, it's just crazy to me."
But for Thompson, the real focus this season will be on the new "SNL" faces.
"The show's 39 years old, so they've always had seasons where new people have come in," he said. "I think this might be one of the larger changes in the history, but I'm very excited. ... There's five new guys (Beck Bennett, Kyle Mooney, Brooks Wheelan, and John Milhiser) and one crazy, awesome new lady (Noel Wells). … It's just exciting to see new talent."
But what the TODAY gang is excited to see is a return of one of Thompson's classic impersonations — his hilarious take on Al Roker.
After playing clip of a past bit that had the studio in stitches, Roker thanked Thompson for the on-air teasing.
"All of a sudden I had street cred with my kids!" he said. "I made 'SNL.'"
"All in good fun!" Thompson assured.
Catch the season premiere of "SNL," featuring Tina Fey and musical guest Arcade Fire, Sept. 28 at 11:30 p.m. on NBC.