Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell on returning to their All That roots: 'It gives me chills'
It’s been 25 years since All That launched, introducing a group of fresh-faced teens to the world. Some would go on to have their own spin-offs, some would go on to America’s premier sketch show. But now they’re back where it all began. “The first set done was Good Burger,” original star Kel Mitchell says of arriving to work on the revival. “So imagine this empty set and the light is only on Good Burger. It was the weirdest moment, my heart just stopped. It was like, ‘Wow, this was the start.’”
Mitchell, one of the breakouts of the 1994–2000 series, returns to his beginnings in familiar company. He guest-stars in the premiere with fellow alums Lori Beth Denberg and Josh Server, and also serves as an executive producer alongside his All That and Kenan & Kel partner Kenan Thompson. “I couldn’t pass up such a large part of my own history,” says Thompson. “It’s our childhood, like it is everyone else’s, so it has a special place in my heart.”
For Denberg, who recently realized that she had become “nostalgia,” the assumption was that she’d be brought in simply to introduce the new cast. Yet, she, Mitchell, and Server quickly realized that wasn’t the case. “I just look at them and I’m like, ‘Is this happening? Did we ever leave?’” shares Denberg. “I’m doing the Loud Librarian like no time has passed.”
Due to his Saturday Night Live contract, Thompson will most likely appear only as himself, but “it gives me chills,” he says of seeing his longtime friends channeling their most memorable characters. Discussing Mitchell donning the Good Burger outfit again, Thompson fondly observes, “Kel in that wig and outfit, he loves it. He’s in it so much and he looks so happy when he’s doing it.” Adds Mitchell: “It was the no-brainer. I remember when we first started having conversations about this, it was like, ‘Kel, you cool with getting in the wig?’ I was like, ‘Of course!'”
This isn’t the first time that these four have reunited, appearing together in recent years on MTV’s Wild ‘n Out and Nickelodeon’s Double Dare revival. But they know this is different. “This is special,” declares Server. “This is like coming home.”
But their home now has seven new fresh faces eager to re-create the magic of their famous predecessors. “We were all creative kids with these voices in our heads that needed to come out,” recalls Thompson. “So it’s a beautiful thing for a new generation to have that opportunity to spread their quirky wings. I can’t wait to see it.”
All That premieres June 15 at 8:30 p.m. ET on Nickelodeon.