Kenan and Kel: Why Did Kenan Make It to 'SNL' While Kel Was Left in the Dust?


Don't lie. You've seen Good Burger and you liked everything about it, even its wildly stupid jokes ("there is no way a guy can watch his own butt!," "I'm grape nose boy!"), many of which belonged to Kel Mitchell, who portrayed dim-witted but sweet Good Burger employee Ed. 

If you're into slapstick humor, the Nickelodeon movie was perfect for your younger self, so one of the biggest mysteries of life still keeps you up at night: why did Kenan make it onto SNL and smoothly transition into an adult actor while sidekick Kel basically faded into oblivion?

Believe it or not, I had this conversation with someone recently (as much as our generation's nostalgia obsession frustrates me, I will admit that it's a good talking point with new friends). 

"Kel was the really funny one," I said. "The guy with the extreme sense of humor, most outrageous skits and characters, and funniest scenes overall."

Don't agree with me? Then try to get through any of these videos without laughing:

Maybe Kel wasn't your cup of tea, but you can't deny he had a talent for daffy characters. Kenan, on the other hand, was much calmer. Sure he was goofy as Pierre Escargot and Principal Pimple on All That, but he could also be serious and wear multiple hats:

Kenan could be normal as well as unusual, and that seems to explain his adult success. He wasn't a caricature all the time. Meanwhile, Kel's newest project is anything but high profile and it's unclear what he's been up to post-Nickelodeon glory days. Adding insult to injury, Kenan reportedly threw Kel under the bus, so there goes our childhood and faith in humanity.

"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," Kel told TMZ last year. Though Kel would be happy to meet with his former partner-in-crime, Kenan won't have any of it with his ex-Kenan and Kel cast mate. He allegedly didn't even want to do a joint interview with Kel, which seems like a rather icy approach to a former long-time colleague. I mean, they had a show in their names together, not to mention tons of onscreen time as a pair, so why the dismissive attitude? I guess we can't live in the past, and I'll never know how they interacted after the cameras stopped rolling.

For every All That success story, there are many less-than-inspiring ones. As Kenan, who joined SNL in 2003, continues to thrive in the spotlight and maintains his reputation as a solid funnyman, Kel still boasts his 90s heyday on his personal website:

Oh, Kel. All I can say is I'm sorry. I loved you as Ed, the Jupiter guy, Coach Creaton, you name it. You were (and undoubtedly still are) a riot, and I'm not alone in believing this.

No matter what transpired between you and Kenan, just know that many Nickelodeon kids of the 90s would have liked to see you climb to the top with him. There's plenty of room for the both of you there, even if you're a one-trick-pony kind of comedian. All That, and my childhood, would not have been the same without you.

Did you watch Kenan and Kel's work growing up? What do you think of them? Was Kel robbed of an awesome grown-up career? Let me know on Twitter: @LauraDonovanUA