Saturday Night Live is a widely popular program of sketch comedy that has been around since the 1970s. Through that, there have been many tv shows that have come and gone to replicate it: Mad TV, Chappelle Show, Key and Peele, SCTV of others. The only kid version that tried to replicate it was All That!
All That! A Nickelodeon creation was putting young talent from ages 13 to 18 together to create sketch comedy. Show Runner Brian Robbins would pitch a show in 1991 that would be a mixture of Saturday Night Live, the Carol Burnett Show, and Laugh-In. Dan Schneider, who is now the king of children’s comedy shows, was the head writer, and Michael Tollin would be the other showrunner. Together, the three of them came up with a concept for the show. The show would premiere in 1994.
The show would comprise a cold open, a few sketches that were performed in front of a studio audience, and a musical performance. There would be 7 performers that were cast and they would comprise the cast that performed all the sketches. These performers from left to right are Katrina Johnson, Kel Mitchell, Alisa Reyes, Josh Server, Angelique Bates, top: Lori Beth Denberg, and Kenan Thompson.
All That is great in a lot of ways. It is funny, smart, and quick. Watching it as an almost 30-year-old adult is silly with all the physical comedy, but it is made for children. The good thing about Nickelodeon shows is that they make TV for kids and adults to watch together. All That is definitely one of those shows that parents can watch and still find a joke or two that they can laugh at as well.
Focusing on the first season, they were finding their voice. The kids are timid and the writing is over the top, but it is okay. It brings some titular characters that would continue throughout the series, like Ed in Good Burger, Lori Beth in Vital Information, and Pierre Escargot in Everyday French with Pierre Escargot. It is difficult to find season 1 for free, so I watched little it. Season 2-5 is available on Paramount Plus.
One of my favorite segments is Vital Information for Your Everyday Life. It is silly and is usually nonsensical things being said, or jokes. This is supposed to be a riff on of Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live. It shows as though it is serious, but it is actually just really quirky.
It was incredible to see Kenan Thompson, who is a staple of Saturday Night Live, get his start on this show. It was his first TV show, and you can tell that he really shines. He consistently works hard on all the sketches and is very well prepared. He would get his own show with another cast, regular Kel Mitchell. From there, they would create a movie, and then Kenan would move to SNL. He now is the producer of the reboot of All That on Nickelodeon.
Another highlight is Good Burger. It is a ridiculous sketch where Ed (Kel Mitchell) is a restaurant worker. He can’t get anything right. He is consistently making the customers angry with his antics. This sketch works because of Mitchell’s physical comedy. Almost all of his titular characters on the show are physical comedy roles, which he excels at.
The musical guests were always a highlight I remembered. They would get someone who was just rising the charts or was very popular and they would perform at the end. Usually, they did a backstage sketch as well or were in a sketch throughout the night. This was always nice to see a performance and find a new artist to love.
Overall, All That is a pleasant alternative for kids that are looking for sketch comedy but aren’t old enough to watch SNL.
Does it Hold Up?
It’s cute, but kids nowadays would not really be interested in this type of humor. It is much too long, and kind of ridiculous.
I watched this every night it was on and this just brought it all back. Also, seeing the musical acts brought back so many memories!
Do you agree with my assessment? Post your thoughts in the comments below!
As always, Creating Nostalgia Millennial Style!