Nickelodeon was on a role producing original content as the network grew in the early 90’s. Adding to the pedigree was All That, a sketch show directly in the vein of Saturday Night Live. Lasting for 10 seasons, the show launched a few careers while creating some characters that are still remembered today, for better or for worse.
All That premiered in 1994, featuring Angelique Bates, Lori Beth Denberg, Katrina Johnson, Kel Mitchell, Alisa Reyes, Josh Server, and Kenan Thompson. Most of these people fell off the face of the Earth, with exception of Thompson, an active cast member on SNL. This is primary cast for the first 3 seasons, and the one I remember most fondly.
The show’s format was simple. Each episode would start similar to The Muppet Show, with the stage manager Kevin trying to wrangle the cast into performing. Then, the theme song by TLC played, where the lyrics were so simple that I think Nick was ripped off. The sketches would play out, and the show would wrap with a musical guest such as Usher, TLC, Missy Elliot, Nas, Busta Rhymes, Coolio, Da Brat or Aaliyah. Basically, they only brought on one type of artist. This wasn’t lost on me, even as a teenager.
The notable sketches are too many to count. There was “Cooking with Randy and Mandy”, “Repairman”, “The Adventures of Superdude”, “Vital Information” and “Dullmont Junior High” to name a few. All of which had some notable catchphrase or action that undoubtedly embedded itself deep in you psyche, ready to leak out one unsuspecting day, during some pivotal moment of your life, like a job interview or… sorry, tangent.
A few changes to the cast were made over the years, with some leaving and others joining, most notably Gabriel Iglesias (Fluffy comedian guy), Nick Cannon (drumming Mariah Carey guy), Danny Tamberelli (younger Pete guy) and Amanda Bynes (drug addict/celebrity meltdown, er, guy). After six seasons, the show went on hiatus in 2000. In 2002, Nick brought it back with a new, younger cast. The most notable addition was Jamie Lynn Spears. The last four years of the show followed the SNL model more closely, having a weekly guest hosts.
A handful of actors became so popular they were given their own show. Kenan and Kel had the Kenan & Kel Show, Amanda Bynes The Amanda Show, Nick Cannon The Nick Cannon Show, and Jamie Lynn Spears with Zoey 101. With the exception of the latter, all the shows were of the comedy sitcom variety, varying widely in quality. No discussion of All That would be complete without Good Burger. This decent sketch, likely responsible for Kenan and Kel’s popularity, spun out into a terrible movie of the same name. It was bad.
The 10th season started with a 10 year anniversary of the show, featuring cast members from the current and original lineup. It was a fun event, with many returning sketches and generational characters crossing over. The show continued for a few more episodes, ending in this, its final season.
All That was a bit of a dynasty, launching several careers, shows and properties for the first kids network. While I can’t speak to the later reboot, the first few years were fun, and a staple of my Saturday nights. Honestly, I have no idea how the show holds up today, and I’m not interested in finding out. At least this made more sense than KaBlam!
What was your favorite All That sketch? Did the genre specific musical guests annoy you? Comment below!