Kel Mitchell Talks Losing ‘SNL’ Role to Kenan Thompson, Reconciling Friendship 'As Brothers’

Mitchell discusses the strain on his relationship with his former Nickelodeon co-star on the latest episode of the 'Club Shay Shay' podcast.

View this video on YouTube

Kel Mitchell cleared the air about his alleged falling out with Kenan Thompson and how they reunited years later.

On the latest episode of Shanon Sharpe’s Club Shay Shay podcast that premiered on Wednesday to discuss the estranged relationship with his former All That and Kenan & Kel co-star.

Mitchell, 45, told Sharpe that he and Thompson, 46, were able to hit it off so quickly during Nickelodeon’s heyday due to shared backgrounds and experiences.

He recalled that they were able to showcase their chemistry in a sketch called “Mavis and Clavis” during the pilot episode of All That in 1994, which led them to being paired together in subsequent sketches throughout the show. Their comedic timing and rapport were evident both on and off-screen to the show’s creatives.

View this video on YouTube

“I remember Keenan and I had a sketch called ‘Mavis and Clavis’ where we played two old guys, and we were doing these characters,” said Mitchell at the 23:40 mark. “I would tell a joke, he knew exactly what I was going to say, I knew exactly what he was going to say, and it just worked at that moment. After that, everybody kind of saw like ‘Oh, these two work very well together,’ and so did we.”

Mitchell says that it was that fateful sketch and their off-set antics that made the comedic duo get their own show.

“We were doing All That for a few seasons and it became popular after a while. Then usually we would go home and go to school ‘on hiatus’. So they hit us up and [were] like, ‘You guys are going to stay here while the other kids go, and we want to do your own show because we see you guys off stage too and you guys are hilarious.’”

Their show, Kenan & Kell, ran from 1996 to 2000 on Nickelodeon while concurrently working on All That. The show’s Good Burger sketch was also spun off into a film in 1997.

Despite their close history, Mitchell told Sharpe that he hadn’t spoken to Thompson for a while until they both arrived at the same audition for Saturday Night Live years later.

“When people watch us on television, they're thinking like ‘Oh, this is brothers … they hang out all the time,’ but this is a job,” Mitchell said. “When it ended, we were adults… You got to kind of look at us being adults and navigating our own things throughout life, and we hadn't talked in a long time.”

“When Saturday Night Live came along, I was going through probably the worst time of my life,” Mitchell recalled.  “[When] we go to audition, I didn't know Keenan was going to be there.”

Although the audition process was competitive, Mitchell’s focus was on securing a job to support his family, and didn’t make much of Thompson’s presence.

“I didn't get the audition which was fine though because there's so many other comedians that didn't. I don't look at it as like ‘I was upset at my boy,’ and that wasn't what it was. But what really was going on was what was happening behind the scenes, you know what was going on where we just didn't talk.”

Mitchell described their reunion years later. While starring in the short-lived Nickelodeon series, Game Shakers, a producer from the show suggested that he reconnect with Thompson and gave him his number. When they finally connected on the phone, they stayed talking for an hour about their lives since they left Nickelodeon in the early aughts.

“[He was] just shocked by what was really going on behind the scenes, and all that I had dealt with and what was going on,” Mitchell said. “That was good for us to have that conversation as adults.”

During another conversation the two had, they realized that producers behind the scenes of their Nickelodeon shows had been in each other's ears trying to keep them apart.

“We told ourselves we wouldn't allow that to happen again, and we really did that,” he added. “Now, every day we're speaking to one another as brothers, and just checking on each other.”

View this video on YouTube

Afterwards, the two reunited on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2015 for a Good Burger sketch. The two then starred in Good Burger 2, released last year under Paramount+. 

Elsewhere in the Club Shay Shay interview, Kel confirmed that he and Kenan have “definitely” been talking about more projects.

Latest in Pop Culture