20 years ago, Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell were at the top of their game as the best part of Nickelodeon’s All That. Naturally, executives saw their chemistry and elected to give Thompson and Mitchell their own spin-off series, Kenan & Kel. The show centered on one teenager who worked at a grocery store to fund all of his schemes and his best friend, who regularly hung out, satisfying his orange soda obsession on the house.
The energy that the duo displayed on the channel’s staple sketch show was toned down, giving Thompson and Mitchell the chance to play more developed characters that got the opportunity to hook viewers. And two decades later, the show still resonates — particularly the schemes that Kenan thought up. So, in celebration of the show’s 20th anniversary (and in an effort to always remind you that ill-formed schemes are best left in the land of sitcoms) here’s a look back at some of the best… er, worst. Both!
Opening Up “Duh Bomb”
Underage clubs aren’t a half-bad idea. It gives club promoters access to a demographic that doesn’t really have anywhere else to go. But most promoters themselves aren’t the same age as their underage clientele, that would be a disaster. Well, disaster was Kenan and Kel’s specialty, second only to interpretive light bulb installation, of course.
Their first mistake was making Rigby’s a nightclub and thinking a bunch of teenagers would know the difference between party favors and unsold, unopened groceries. Their second was everything that followed.
“I.. Dropped the Screw… IN THE TUNA!!”
No Kenan and Kel list will ever be complete without mention of Kel’s all-time most hilarious moment — which is saying a lot, because he had plenty.
Kenan nearly choked to death on a screw he found in a tuna sandwich and decided to take the company to court instead of taking the “small” settlement of $1 million up front. After pretty much closing the case, all that was left was for Kel, the only witness, to testify. However, the innocent, lovable young man couldn’t handle the pressure and paraded around the entire courthouse like a madman confessing that he was the criminal who left the screw in the tuna.
Finding The World’s Safest Sofa
After finding out that Rigby’s had both a basement and a storage room, as if he hadn’t been working there for years, Kenan came across a map for a “Secret S*f*.” Being the optimist that he was, he automatically assumed it led to a secret safe. Meanwhile, Kel guessed it was to a secret sofa and was suprisingly right, offering him a chance to revel in his moment of glory.
Every kid tried to forge their parent’s signature at least once. They made it look far too easy for us not to. (Except for me. Hi, Mom!) Well, Kenan took it one hundred steps further, as he often did, by hiring actors to play his parents when he got called in for a meeting with the principal.
The only problem was that his hired mom was the queen of overacting and constantly got his name wrong — she even called him “Conan.” Then she got lost in the role and invited the principal over for dinner to a house that she didn’t even live in. Or even know how to get to. No wonder she couldn’t find work.
Rigging the Raffle
All of Kenan’s schemes weren’t to make some quick cash. Sometimes they were to get him out of the trouble his last scheme got him into and Kel was likely always along for the ride.
After breaking a TV his boss Chris meant to use for a raffle, Kenan tried to rig it so that he can just replace it with the identical TV his parents have, thinking that no one would ever know. Don’t ask me how, but the episode ended with Kenan spanking himself while running to his room after losing both TV’s and the proceeds from the raffle that he was going to use to buy a replacement.
The Honeymoon’s Over
Like all teenagers, Kenan dreamed of having his own space. So when he heard about a game show where the grand prize was a house, he saw an opportunity. But since the gameshow was for newlyweds, he had Kel put on a wig and a dress and front as his wife. They had a marriage license and everything.
This is a prime example of a moment that gives you more questions than answers once you reach adulthood. How hard was it for this game show to find contestants? What would a teenager with a part-time job at a grocery store do with a house, anyway? Just… why?
“Haven’t Got Time for the Paint”
Not only was Kel a certifiable genius, but he was briefly a world-renowned artist. Almost. One day, an art collector came into Rigby’s and bought a “masterpiece” painting from Kel for $300. Smelling money in the air, Kenan decided to have Kel work tirelessly on more so that they could be auctioned off at Rigby’s. (Remember, everything in this show happened at Rigby’s.)
Just when they were about to clean house, the art collector’s big boss with big pockets came to meet Kel and was shocked to find out that he wasn’t, in fact, a famous artist known as “Carl Kimbel.” The auction cleared out and all that was left was a bunch of produce and worthless pieces of “art.”
The Orange Soda Bet
While no money was on the line, seeing Kenan and Kel compete for an entire week brought a different side of them. Kel busted up his ribs and a doctor’s X-rays showed that he drank so much orange soda that his insides were orange.
So, the two made a bet on Kel lasting a week without his precious orange soda where the loser had to sing the national anthem wearing nothing but a woman’s nightgown. Kel got hypnotized, Kenan tried to cheat multiple times but finally got his friend to fold in the end. Too bad he got caught and they both had to follow through on the bet.
Note: It’s alarming that no one’s ever said this before. Kenan & Kel is set in Chicago. NO ONE in Chicago says “soda.” This is an egregious error and I’m a couple seconds away from starting a petition demanding a public apology from Dan Schneider.