The cast members churned out endless amounts of original material during auditions, some of which made it into the show. Despite being young, they were often treated as equals and invited to contribute ideas for characters and sketches.
Server: During the first couple of seasons, the producers and directors helped us write and create the characters a lot more. I kind of came up with what I thought Detective Dan should be like and then producers helped me tweak it, so it was a really great collaboration. But as time went on it got more organic.
The Ear Boy character will live with me for the rest of my life, it doesn't matter where I go or what I do. When I win my Oscar, God willing, they're going to show a clip of Ear Boy.
Mitchell: The writers were awesome; they allowed us to be creative and encouraged improv and ad-libbing. When Ed from "Good Burger" was created, it was for a sketch Josh did called, "Dream Remote." In it, Josh could fast forward through time and stuff like that. So he had a pizza arrive very quickly and I came to the door and delivered it with that dude-type voice. The audience went crazy and so the writers were like, "OK, we've got to do something with that voice." So they wrote "Good Burger."
Reyes: In the beginning, the show favored the boys a little more. But once they saw that the girls had confidence and could set their tone and their mark, they allowed us to have more roles. There were times where we would have creative meetings where producers would ask us, "Hey, do you have any ideas?" or "We have an idea for a character but how would you make it work?"
When my character Kiki came about, I was like, "Well I see her talking fast and energetic," and we figured out that Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island was going to be what I was go ing for.
Actually, when I did the Kiki the Island Girl skit, I had to kiss Josh. That was my first kiss on camera. It was awkward. He was stubby and had this pirate makeup on, and I was like, "This is not how I envisioned my first kiss on camera." He was an okay kisser. [Laughs.]
Knowings: The characters were all written by the writers of the show, but in terms of the voices and how they were embodied, that was up to us. All those kinds of characters were developed on my own, like Brenda Stone. They didn’t know I was gonna use a voice like that. They just gave me the script and I went with it. I didn’t mean for it to come out like Fran Drescher, it just kind of did.
Johnson: For my Lemonade Scammer skit, I brought that up to the writers. I had a lemonade stand when I was a kid. I was a scandalous little slave driver and I employed all the neighborhood kids. [Laughs.] I used to do martial arts so I took my martial arts map and I used it as a stand. I remember one day I got in trouble because the neighborhood kid's mom called my mom to report that I was sheisty and that I kept all the dollars and only gave them pennies.
But my favorite one to do was the Ross Perot sketch, because when I was all dressed up and made up like an old man I would go mess with the crews of other shows. I would run around on set and hide in places and attack people. Freak ‘em out because this tiny old man was popping out of some weird place.
Denberg: "Vital Information" was one of the original ideas for the show that the writers had and I really homed in on it. I just liked it. My friends see all these Vital Information memes and send them to me. It’s cool that someone took the time to make that, and out of love, too. It’s not like an unflattering photo of a starlet that’s being made fun of. It’s out of appreciation for the show and what that segment meant to people growing up.
Tamberelli: I did not want to fill in for "Vital Information." Lori Beth did it so well and everyone liked her and I was just sort of yelling like Chris Farley. I would also just say the lines that were really stupid but give the camera a look that was like, “Really, you want me to say this right now?” I’ve seen on Twitter that there’s pro-Danny Tamberelli Vital Information as well as “Lori Beth did it way better!”
But the last season of the show, Mark Saul and I were writing partners and we got writing credits on the show.
I did not want to fill in for 'Vital Information.' Lori Beth did it so well and everyone liked her and I was just sort of yelling like Chris Farley. —Danny Tamberelli
Saul: Danny and I wrote a sketch called “Animal Wranglers,” where we played two animal hunter guys who come into a classroom and teach kids, but we end up injuring ourselves and the kids. That started with Danny and I talking about funny ideas after rehearsals. After we spent a night writing the script, we gave it to one of the writers and they invited us into the writers' room to work on it with them. My biggest regret is that I had to leave early from that meeting because I had an English test.
Frierson: Leroy fit my personality at the time. I remember the first episode I did with him, I beat up the tooth fairy, and that stemmed from the writers saying, “Let this kid be his self, and just be an asshole, a little gangbanger wannabe.” I loved rap and I grew up loving Too $hort and Bébé's Kids. That is how I saw myself as a kid and so those types of characters came natural.
Cannon: Kenan and I was ratchet before ratchet was even existing, like that word wasn’t even out yet. Kenan is from Atlanta and I'm from the West Coast, so we would put all of the stereotypical hood stuff for "The Inconvenience Store" skit. I was a teenager at the time, coming from my neighborhood like, “I’d do anything to get up out of here. Give me a dress I’ll put it on! I ain’t scared. Is there a check that comes with it? Let’s go!”
Bates: Randy and Mandy were definitely made for Kenan and me. Everyone always asks about the shower and the tub. A lot of that was a mix of powdered chocolate and water. When you started mixing it, the odor was so strong. It would be so hard for us to get it off of our skin. I think that the week we did the shower scene, Immature was performing. I had the biggest crush on Romeo, and I was trying to introduce myself like, "Oh, hey. I’m Angelique. Don’t mind the chocolate smell." [Laughs.]
Thompson: All of my sketches on All That, like "Randy and Mandy" and "Mavis and Clavis," were good practice especially, for what I do now, but it was tough. I remember Ms. Piddlin had this little smoke necklace that I would have to wear that would always make me choke and cough in the middle of the takes. It just taught us how to deal with different things, like having the patience to put on a wig and prosthetics.