Imagine having to carry a never-before-seen kids sketch comedy series, while dealing with the inherent emo-ness of puberty. Daunting, right? The original seven cast members had to do that, on top of making new friends with complete strangers, and trying to finish high school.
Denberg: The morning I was supposed to fly out to Orlando to do the pilot, the Northridge earthquake hit, and I lived in Northridge. Luckily, no one I knew got hurt. But the city shut down, so I really thought I lost my shot. I ended up taking a red-eye flight to Orlando. Once I got there, I headed straight to the studio after being up all night and feeling so shaken. Then we just jumped right into the read through. [Laughs.]
On set, I was the oldest by a few years. Kenan and Kel were like 14 when I was 18. Sometimes we were bickering brothers and sisters. We were kids so we weren’t standing around going, “Well, I very much appreciate your work.” When people would forget lines, the other kids would be like, “Would you just get it?! Come on!” We all grew up together.
Server: I was crazy teenager running around and I remember I had a couple of really good run-ins with the producers. I remember Brian Robbins and I had a big brotherly moment. I don't remember what was said or what I did specifically but I know I was being a little brat and needed a stern talking to. [Laughs.]
In the beginning, the show really didn’t have an identity. We didn’t know what we were doing. —Katrina Johnson
Reyes: I remember going into the trailer and meeting everybody, like Kenan, Kel, Katrina, Lori Beth. I thought it was awesome because none of us look like each other. We were like a total melting pot of diversity.
Mitchell: The relationship between all of us was like summer camp. We'd get clique-y sometimes. There were times when we would get into arguments, but nothing too crazy. But I enjoyed the job of it. Think about it: Universal Studios in Florida was our backyard. In between scenes, we would jump lines and ride rides.
Johnson: In the beginning, the show didn’t have an identity. We didn’t know what we were doing. The later cast members at least had an idea of what was going on. But the first cast—there was no kids sketch comedy. And I was 10, so I know I wasn’t allowed to watch SNL on too late. There was In Living Color and I would always sneak and try to record it and try to watch it. So we were pioneers for our generation.
As far as tension, I don’t think there was any in the original cast, unless there was a real sexy performer that maybe one cast member wanted to date, but another cast member actually went on a date with that person. And that may have happened twice. [Laughs.]
Bates: If there was tension, it was probably because we had been up all night. [Laughs.] We were doing takes over and over again, 'til late. As far as with each other, some of us were definitely that annoying little sister. I had my moments. We were just kids so we had times where we got on the other person’s nerves, but it was never hate. The next day it would be good.
Thompson: We were all very excited to be working on a TV show, and Nickelodeon was our playground back then. Kel and I were like brothers at the time. We were all very close, hung out a lot, and spent a lot of time together.