Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
All That, Kenan & Kel and Good Burger
Currently Known For:
All That, Kenan & Kel and Good Burger
“We didn’t know anything about comedy duos—Abbot and Costello, Martin and Lewis—we didn’t know anything about that. Kim Fields showed us a tape of Martin and Lewis and their old shows and they come through the curtain, so we started doing research on them.” One half of the funniest duo on Nickelodeon throughout the 1990s, Kel Mitchell might be 39 years old today but he’s still recognized for his love of orange soda in a skit made popular by his performances in All That, Kenan & Kel, and Good Burger. So, with his popularity still following him today on Nickelodeon where he stars as Double G on Game Shakers, let’s find out more about the Chicago native’s journey to becoming one of Nickelodeon’s funniest stars!
Born and raised in the Windy City, Kel Johari Rice Mitchell was born on August 25, 1978 in Chicago, Illinois. He got his start as an actor at 12 years old when he joined the ETA Creative Arts Foundation where he starred in performances of Dirt, Kasimu & The Coconut Palm and Eden, the latter of which caught the eye of a local talent agent who signed Mitchell on as his client. Within months, Mitchell was given the opportunity of a lifetime when he was invited to audition for a variety show on a new children’s network called Nickelodeon. The show was named All That and set a new standard for children’s television as Mitchell became an original cast member alongside another young actor named Kenan Thompson. Becoming fast friends, big things were on the horizon for the pair.
With the growing success of All That, Nickelodeon was quick to cash in on the young stars and their unique comedy style as they offered the duo their own series, Kenan & Kel, in 1996. Mitchell’s shtick grew from his sketches on All That and, before long, the “Good Burger” sketch was born with the orange soda-loving Mitchell sending audiences doubled over in laughter. Coincidentally, the sketch was so popular that Nickelodeon funded the 1997 film, Good Burger, with Mitchell still recognized for the skit and the film even today. “No, it doesn’t get annoying! Not at all, not at all,” Mitchell said of still being asked about his love of orange soda. “I’m thankful that people enjoyed it and that I was a part of their childhood, so I never get mad. I’m not that child star who goes, ‘Ahhh! I hate that! Why?’ No, never. I think it’s awesome.”
Wrapping up Kenan & Kel in 2000, Mitchell found ongoing work as an actor and voiced T-Bone in Clifford the Big Red Dog alongside John Ritter and made a handful of appearances in popular series like Sabrina, the Teenage Witch; The Amanda Show; Nash Bridges; City Guys and The Nick Cannon Show. Although the work was steady, Mitchell was desperate to find another starring role and took a huge leap of faith in 2003 when he auditioned for Saturday Night Live. Believe it or not, the final audition slotted him against his longtime friend and costar, Kenan Thompson, who snagged the spot and became the first cast member who was younger than the show itself.
After losing his seat on SNL, rumors ran wild with some media outlets reporting a messy feud between the former costars as Mitchell later fueled the fire when he presumably told TMZ, “The truth is Kenan does not want to be seen with me in any form of media, or even have my name mentioned around him.” While the rumors on the fizzled friendship proved true, others were not as Myspace reported that Mitchell was dead in 2006. In reality, that wasn’t the case at all as Mitchell continued to lend his voice to T-Bone in Clifford’s Really Big Movie and Clifford’s Puppy Days while making cameos in television series and films including The Parkers, Half & Half, My Coolest Years, One on One, and Like Mike 2: Streetball. “I got into directing and voiceover work as well,” Mitchell said when asked to pick his favorite project after Kenan & Kel. “I worked on Clifford the Big Red Dog, I’m a little dog named T-Bone on that show. Nicktoons and Rob Drydek, working with him. I just love every aspect of entertainment, I just like to put my feet in everything and I’m happy to still have this longevity still going with kids’ entertainment, so I can’t pick just one.”
Going on to lend his voice as Jay Jay in Nickelodeon’s Wild Grinders from 2012 to 2015, Mitchell caught another big break shortly after wrapping up the series when he was cast in a starring role—as a rapper named Double G—in the network’s newest series, Game Shakers. “Kids are honest—they’ll tell you whether you’re funny or not. And it’s a great network,” Mitchell said of his return. “I’ve been around them for years, so it’s fun to be back… I also rap and dance and sing myself, so with this character, I get to do all those things at once.”
Still in the role today with additional cameos in Double Dare and Henry Danger, Mitchell has even mended fences with Thompson after over a decade. “I was in my backyard and I haven’t talked to this dude in years. I wondered—‘cause I heard the same rumors of beef and all that, so I didn’t really know, since I hadn’t spoken with him—if there was really a problem or not,” Mitchell recalled of the night he called Thompson. “That night on the phone, we were talking for, like, hours,” Mitchell said as Thompson added, “It was immediate, like I had seen him yesterday or something like that. He had gone through his own tribulations or whatever and he was on the other side of that finally.”
Eventually reuniting for a Kenan & Kel sketch on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2015, the duo took the stage much to the delight of their fans. “It was weird to see him because I hadn’t seen him in 10 years,” Mitchell said. “But soon enough, I realized it was just like comfortable shoes… it was just this emotional moment.” Refusing to let another decade go by without talking, the former All That costars and Good Burger pals stay in touch with social media and visits to New York and California when their schedules allow. Apart from that, the 39-year-old Mitchell has plenty to focus on with Game Shakers, his recent venture into motivational speaking, and his life at home with rapper Asia Lee and their three children!