Our final interview from Awesome-Con includes the man who loves Orange Soda, Kel Mitchell. Kel, who is most popularly known for playing Kel on Kenan and Kel sat down with me to discuss how Orange Soda and catch phrases have changed his life, his past characters, and his stand-up comedy career.
Gage: Kel, this is something I’ve wondered for a while now but, do you actually like Orange Soda? Or has the catch phrase kind of ruined it for you?
Kel: [laughing] Of course I love orange soda. But I work out now a lot so I’m drinking more water and teas and stuff like that. But of course, of course, I love orange soda. I do, I do, I do-oooooooo. [laughing]
Gage: I grew up watching Kenan and Kel, so having you say that just now is going to make my whole week. That’s awesome. Now, have any of your catch phrases came back to haunt you? Do people in public ask you if you did put the screw in the tuna or do they give you the Good Burger pitch while you’re out?
Kel: Oh, dude, so many stories. Me and my wife, we’ll go to a fast food restaurant or even a five-star restaurant, we get treated like a king and queen if they have burgers. I get free burgers where ever I go because of Good Burger. Even with Orange Soda, it’s the same thing. If I order anything outside of Orange Soda, people are like, “What?! You’re Kel!” So I definitely get that a lot and I’ve even done comic cons where I’m leaving with boxes of Orange Soda people have brought me. And also screws and tuna. Like I’ve had people bring a can of tuna with a screw inside of it. It was very funny. [laughing]
Gage: That sounds crazy but I don’t put it past the fans because every convention I’ve been to, people have done something like that with one of the guests. Do people bring in bottles of Orange Soda for you to sign?
Kel: Oh yeah, all the time. But I’m totally cool with it. Even when they bring the tuna and the Orange Soda because when I do stand up, at the end, I see all of these Orange Sodas in the air and people are waving them around. So I’m totally cool with it.
Gage: Just going a bit off my script here but where did that come from? How did the Orange Soda stuff come about?
Kel: Well, Dan Schneider, he wrote the Orange Soda part. He and some of the other writers on the show wrote the, “Who loves Orange Soda. Kel loves Orange Soda. I do, I do-ooooo.” But I kind of T-Pain’d it and give it a little remix. Like, “I do, I DO-OOOoooOOOO” and all that. And it just took off to now everybody loves saying it. Ever today at red lights, bathrooms, where ever I’m at. And then, my other catchphrases of course, “Welcome to Good Burger. Home of the Good Burger. Can I take your order?” That just brings joy to people’s hearts when I say it, they scream like, “Ahhh!!” So it’s pretty cool, man, to have all these catch phrases. I love when people cosplay as Repair Man, so that’s pretty cool.
Gage: That’s really awesome man. And just going back through what we’ve been talking about with all of your roles. What has your favorite role been throughout your career?
Kel: I don’t know man, I’ve done so much stuff. You know, I’m on a new show now on Nickelodeon called Game Shakers and I play a Hip-Hop mogul on that show. I just like that character because I get to rap and perform and the character is kind of like Kanye [West]. So that’s a lot of fun. But as far as the stuff from the past, I would definitely say Mystery Men was a fun one to do. To play a superhero because that was a dream of mine, to play a superhero. So that was pretty cool and to work with Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo and all those other great actors like that, that were in the movie. That was pretty cool.
Gage: And just going back through your career a little bit, you were part of the inaugural cast of All That. Is there anything that sticks out from that first season to you? And what was the process of getting a sketch comedy show, Like Saturday Night Live, through Nickelodeon?
Kel: It was awesome man, to be on a sketch show for kids. We were the first ones to ever really do something like that and all the musical guests we had for the first season, I mean, to have TLC sing your theme song, that was awesome. They were the number one group in America at that point. We just loved it man to meet all these great musical guests and to have all that fun with sketches. And we shot it in Florida, which made it pretty cool too because we shot it on the Universal Studios Back Lot, so that was our backyard. So in between breaks or lunch time or anything like that, we’d go ride the Back to the Future ride and all that stuff. So that was pretty cool but the first season, that was pretty awesome.
Gage: Now moving from the older shows to what you’re working on now. Has there been a big change shooting something like The Kenan and Kel show to what you’re working on now with Game Shakers? How has the industry changed?
Kel: As far as Nickelodeon, it’s still pretty much the same as it’s still for the kids and all the jokes are for the kids. I mean, we have some that go over their heads that the older crowd would get. But they stay true to the kids like they did back in the 90’s. They still do that. But, I think, social media has changed it the most. That’s the big change. A lot of the shows are social media driven and go with that aspect of putting that into the stories. I think that’s the only big change.
Gage: Yeah, I would say that social media is a pretty big change and a monumental thing going on right now and is kind of shaping everything around us. So, you’re working on Game Shakers now but do you have anything else in the works?
Kel: Like you mentioned, Game Shakers but I also do my stand-up [comedy]. So I’m on tour doing stand up and that’s been awesome. You can go to my website and see where I’m at next. But it’s all been really exciting and now I have a whole new audience of kids watching me who have parents that watched me in the 90’s, so I have the whole family watching me now, so that’s pretty cool.
Gage: Mentioning stand up comedy, do you have any tips for people trying to get into to stand up? Because I’ve done stand up before and that is a terribly hard job. It is the most nerve-wracking thing I’ve ever been through and I only did it for a crowd of about 200 people. So what can you tell to someone who wants to get into stand up?
Kel: Man, consistency. That’s the main thing because every crowd is different. Every audience is different even on the same night. I’ve done an eight o’clock show and a ten o’clock show and the eight o’clock was different than the ten o’clock and vise versa. So definitely consistency and getting up there. The best thing to do is getting up there and keep trying, and keep trying jokes. If you had one that didn’t land very well, it’s all good, just try it again and lock it up if it doesn’t well for a long period of time. But the best way to do stand up is to get up on that stage and be fearless and continue to do it until you have an amazing set you can work with. Because it takes a lot to get up there with no laugh track, nothing, and get people into that world on stage. And just be comfortable, that’s the thing I had to learn. Just to really be comfortable like you’re talking with some friends in a living room and just making them laugh and that’s what makes the audience laugh and crack up with you. It’s really like that. And make it relatable.
Gage: Awesome man, solid advice. Going back to your on TV career, back in 2015 you were on the Jimmy Fallon show and you guys have a Good Burger reunion with Kenan. What was that like?
Kel: It was awesome man. Jimmy gave the call that he wanted us to do this reunion and we were all about it. I’m a huge Jimmy Fallon fan, I think he’s great. I remember, me and Kenan, we hadn’t been in those outfits for a long time, it was a surreal moment at that point. I remember it was kind of emotional for us. We got right back into the swing of it and we were like, “Wow man, this is totally fun. We have to do something else again, together.” It was definitely an awesome moment. And Jimmy jumped right into it too, being a Good Burger employee. We had fun.
Gage: Did it take you any time to get back into the character of Ed? And relearn his mannerisms again?
Kel: Naw. [laughing]
Gage: That never goes away, right? [laughing]
Kel: [laughing] It was like jumping right back in, man. It was easy as pie. It was pretty cool. I was debating, because I had to shave, I was like, “I should shave…” Because I didn’t want Ed to look weird with a beard and mustache. That was the only thing I had to change up.
You can follow Kel’s comedy tour and check out where he’ll be next on his website. You can also see him on Nickelodeon with his show, Game Shakers, playing the mentioned Hip-Hop star as he ends up partnering with kids on making mobile apps and games which can be downloaded in real life. Kel can also be found on Twitter for more information on appearances.