The funniest part of NBC’s new sitcom “Kenan” is the sitcom-within-the-sitcom.
“Kenan” (premiering Tuesday at 8:30 p.m.) stars “Saturday Night Live” mainstay Kenan Thompson as the popular host of an Atlanta morning TV show “Wake Up with Kenan.”
A year ago, Kenan’s beloved wife died, and he hasn’t been the same.
He busies himself taking care of his two young daughters (played by real-life sisters Dani and Dannah Lane) with the help of – but more often with some hindrance from – brother Gary (Chris Redd, also “Saturday Night Live”) and his father-in-law Rick (Don Johnson, “Miami Vice”).
Gary’s the kind of dolt who comes home from the clubs and says, ““I got nine numbers. She must have left the last one off by accident, but I’ll find her.”
Rick bets on the plot twists on “This is Us” (a bit of shameless network cross-promotion).
“Y’all are only two halves of one functioning adult,” Kenan grouses.
Kenan’s TV ratings are tanking, and everyone, even his cute tots, knows why: He’s stuck in grief over his wife.
So Kenan tries to get back to sharing his life on his show, but that goes over as well about as well as calling Beyonce fat, Kenan realizes.
Can Kenan get his life and his career on track?
Back to the sitcom-within-the-sitcom: Kenan met his wife on his old show “Grown Ass Little Boy.” He played the lead character. His wife, just three years older, played his mom, because, you know, Hollywood sexism.
As a “blooper” shows, the two found it impossible to keep their family friendly scenes G-rated.
It’s twisted, dark, and hilariously weird. It’s a one-off joke, but “Kenan” could use more of that off-kilter humor.
Watching someone process grief is hard to sit through, much less on the pilot of a sitcom. Thompson is eminently likable, but that doesn’t make this half-hour any less of a chore.
NBC only made one episode available for review, so here’s hoping “Kenan” will find some funny along the way.
Just be grateful Thompson isn’t quitting his night job.