In the golden era of the mid ’90s, millions of viewers were captivated by this sketch comedy masterpiece known as All That. Comedy fans cherish the brilliant eras of Saturday Night Live that featured comedians like Steve Martin and Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo, and Mike Myers and Chris Farley. In 2015, old school Nickelodeon viewers display the same admiration for the original All That whenever we imitate and quote our favorite sketches.
From the opening notes of TLC’s infectious theme song, Nickelodeon fans hung out with the coolest kids in the world everyday for a half-hour. Producers Brian Robbins, Mike Tollin, and Dan Schneider assembled the greatest cast of young comedians in the history of children’s television.
If anyone truly starred in this series, Kel Mitchell was the brightest talent of this entire roster. Let’s recall a few of his classics: Ed, Repair Man, and Coach Kreeton. How many times did us 90s kids replay our orange videotapes of Goodburger back in 1998? On both All That and Kenan & Kel, Mitchell continuously wowed audiences with his captivating personality and comedic prowess. Till this day, I often yell, “I’m REPAR-MAN- MAN-MAN! or I’ll sing, “I’m a dude/ He’s a dude/ She’s a dude/ We’re all dudes/ Hey!”
Another breakout star Josh Server provided tear worthy characters like Walter The Earboy, Detective Dan, and Flem. I was a hyperactive kid and Server often played hyperactive characters, which always cracked me up since I could relate to him. Both Mitchell and Server were the glue to All That; they could perform with any of the cast members and find a way to make the moment memorable.
Nowadays, millennials terribly miss the era of shows like All That. From Twitter to Facebook, we used our social media platforms to launch the SNICK inspired program block: “The 90s Are All That.” Since then, our voices have grown stronger and Nickelodeon has created the retro channel “The Splat,” which airs nonstop 90s classics from 10 PM to 6 AM every night.
To celebrate the launch of “The Splat,” Nickelodeon took the world by storm when they announced the “All That” reunion panel at New York Comic Con. Better yet; Pop-Break joined an exclusive roundtable where we interviewed All That cast members Kel Mitchell and Josh Server. “Fresh out the box/ Stop, look, and watch/ Ready yet, get set/ We interviewed the cast of All That!”
It must be great to have the cast back together. How would you describe this reunion right now?
Kel Mitchell: Epic college/high school mashup reunion (Laughs).
Josh Server: That’s what we were saying. It’s a high school reunion for kids who didn’t get to go to high school. We were talking about that at brunch. We haven’t seen each other in a while. It’s been an X amount of years and we’ve picked up on a lot of old times. It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve only been here for a few hours but so far, so good.
Kel: Catching up has been awesome (Laughs).
Usually the question is, whenever you have a popular show, did you expect it to get this big? Now it’s so far down the road, did you ever expect it to comeback in this way?
Kel: I think it’s awesome that people continue to talk about it. They continued to talk about it even after it stopped. They loved the show and they always wanted it to comeback. That’s why it’s cool that we have The Splat. The fans did that. They actually made it come back. They went online and said, “We love this and we want to see these shows.” We went from the ‘90s Are All That!” and now we have “The Splat.” I think that’s awesome.
Josh: I’m so grateful. I think we all are to be having something talked about 20 years later. Right? You really don’t realize when you’re doing it. We were kids and we were in our teens. You didn’t realize how special it was. Now you see that and it’s coming back and it’s pretty awesome.
Kel: I rather hear them say that instead of them saying, “Oh, I hate that show! Oh, I hated those guys (Laughs)!”
Josh: I think you get a little bit of that (Laughs). But there’s more of the other thing, “Oh, I liked everyone but you Josh. Corey was my favorite (Laughs).” And it’s like, “Okay, fine.” But that’s what I love about the kids though; they were always so honest. It was awesome.
Being so young, what was it like to perform in so many different sketches and create different characters? What did that teach you about comedic timing?
Kel: The timing was there and it was a magical thing. They cast us really well.
Josh: Thank you Kel! (Laughs)
Kel: (Laughs) We really just worked well off each other. You know how we are right now; you could just see it. That’s just how it was on the set. When you have a great cast, you could see it on the screen. We were like that off the screen as well.
Josh: It really was. Everyone was really friendly and fun. It felt like a family and everyone thrived in that group. Everyone had their own individual timing but the timing of the group – it developed pretty quickly and we hit our stride pretty quickly. It’s still fun.
Looking back, what aspect of All That did you miss the most after you moved on and continued your acting careers?
Kel: I feel like its all a learning experience and I’m just happy to enjoy it all. I feel like we learned so much at that age. We got it kind of quick. The show blew up. We didn’t know that the show was going to do what it did. I don’t know about you (Josh) but when went out there and shot the pilot; we didn’t know that the show would be as crazy as it was. I just dig it. I think it really prepared us for the things that we’re doing now.
Josh: I will say – being in that profession; when you’re a kid, you could get away with stuff. You could get away with not knowing because they would say, “Oh, he’s just a kid. He’s a teenager or whatever (Laughs).” As an adult, you can’t show up and make those mistakes. People will say, “Hey, what’s up with that guy?” It prepares you to be professional because you have a learning curve when you’re young. It’s okay to make mistakes. You grow from it. Hopefully those mistakes weren’t too bad (Laughs).
What’s it like to reach an entirely new generation? You have people who grew up with the show and now their kids are watching All That.
Josh: I’ve seen some that on social media. It’s really cool.
Kel: Yeah, I love it. I get a lot of that. The parents will come up to me and say, “Oh, I knew you from the ‘90s!” And the kids will say, “Well, I watch the show too.” We have the whole family now and that’s pretty cool. (In classic Kel voice) We got the whole family now! Come watch my show (Laughs)!
Josh: Like you said, to transcend generations is unreal. It’s amazing.
You both appeared in so many sketches together. What was your favorite sketch that featured the two of you?
Kel: (Laughs) We have a classic one and a lot of people don’t know this one. I’m always telling this story when you’re not there (Josh) so this is fun now that you’re here (Laughs).
Josh: And I can’t wait to hear it (Laughs).
Kel: Josh had this sketch called “Dream Remote.”
Josh: That was the pilot!
Kel: Josh could fast forward his life since his sister was annoying him. He would fast forward his life and whatever. He wanted a pizza delivered to him quickly so he called the pizza guy. And that was the first time we actually saw Ed. He didn’t have the braids or anything. The name just said pizza guy but I came in and said, “Whoa, here’s your pizza.”
Josh: That’s true! I forgot about that!
Kel: And they wrote it in.
Josh: And it became Goodburger after that!
Kel: It became Goodburger after that! They added the wig and everything else. To me, that’s a classic moment because it had Ed and Josh in it. We’re both from Chicago and we’re Chicago boys. That was really cool.
Josh: We were the two kids from Chicago. I’ll add onto that. We had a lot of those Goodburger moments where I was playing Bernie Kibbitz, which was me playing my old Jewish grandfather character. I was always yelling at Ed and that was always a lot of fun. For me, Coach Kreeton was my favorite character that Kel ever did. I couldn’t get through it without cracking up every time. We had a lot of those moments. We were really lucky.
Kel, you have a new show coming out on Nickeledon called Game Shakers. Is Nickelodeon still a family atmosphere?
Kel: It still is. It’s like the “Wizard of Oz” where I wake up in the end and I’m like, “You were there! You were there! And you were there!” It’s awesome man. Everybody is still there and it’s still really cool. A lot of these writers are like my uncles and cool cousins. I think the only difference is the social media aspect. Other than that, it still feels like the ‘90s (Laughs).
Josh: You aged yourself with that statement (Laughs). Before the social media stuff, you would’ve had to check us out in a magazine or come to a live taping (Laughs). That was about it.
Were a lot your characters based off your personal preferences? Do you really love the orange soda?
Josh: The orange soda question!
Kel: Thank you orange soda! No, Dan wrote that in there and it just took off. It was written like, “I do! I do!” and I T-Pained it. And I threw a little “Do-oooh” on it and it just blew up (Laughs).
Josh: Did you just T-Pain a verb?
Kel: I did! I T-Pained it and now I can’t go through drive-thru’s and order anything else. It’s a problem (Laughs).
Josh: They’re like, “You’re going to have Orange soda! Sorry!”
Kel: “Kel always has orange soda! What are you doing (Laughs)?” It’s awesome though. I love doing it for people. It doesn’t upset me at all and it’s all good.
Do fans ever run into you and give you orange soda?
Kel: Yeah, even just yesterday. It happens all the time (Laughs).
Do you feel a sketch comedy show like All That could still thrive in today’s atmosphere?
Kel: I think you could do “All That” now. With social media and Vine, you see all these kids from Vine that are doing amazing things. I would do it that way. If there were going to be another All That, I would take all these Vine stars and throw them together.
Josh: Definitely, I would take all these creative internet kids and put them together. They really create some funny stuff and they do it with very little resources. Imagine if they actually had more? Imagine what they could do? You see that with a lot of the social media people. It’s all about finding the right kids right?
Kel: That’s exactly what it is.
Have you two ever thought about collaborating again? Maybe you could do a podcast or standup tour?
Kel: Yeah, we should do something. We really gotta do something.
Josh: Now we are! (Laughs)
Kel: We really have too.
Josh: I just saw him this morning but we are officially collaborating now!
Kel: We have to bring Josh onto Game Shakers! That would be a lot of fun. I’ll put that out there.
Josh: I collaborated with Dan last year on Sam & Cat. I’m always down to play and have with fun these guys.
Who are some of your favorite kid actors to work with?
Kel: The kids on Game Shakers! Did you see that plug right now (Laughs)?
Josh: Shameless (Laughs)! I’m just going to say, “I don’t know those Game Shaker kids but they seem great!” (Laughs). That was a shameless plug.
Kel: That was awesome (Laughs).