Why SNL Star Kenan Thompson's Return To Nickelodeon's All That May Disappoint Fans

kenan thompson snl finale sketch
(Image credit: nbc press)

Kenan Thompson is hitting a rare but fully embraced crossroads in his career. He's currently the longest-running Saturday Night Live regular, he's got his own NBC sitcom on the way, and he'll soon be a judge in the comedy-focused competition series Bring the Funny. The icing on the cake, however, is Thompson's return for the revival of the on-screen gig that started it all: Nickelodeon's All That.

The new iteration of All That will have Kenan Thompson serving as an executive producer alongside his former co-star Kel Mitchell. But while '90s kids no doubt want to see Thompson back in familiar form as some of his more memorable characters, it's likely he won't be able to take part in any of the actual sketches. The reason? His contract with Saturday Night Live.

It appears as if there's some stipulation within Kenan Thompson's SNL contract that would restrict how he can be used on All That (though it's presumably not just limited to the actor's former shows). One could surmise that Saturday Night Live is particular about allowing its stars to take part in other shows driven by sketch comedy.

Kenan Thompson isn't forbidden from appearing on All That entirely, thankfully. According to EW, he will mostly likely be appearing in the revival's premiere episode only as himself, and not in character. That notion is strengthened by the fact that he reacted to how Kel Mitchell looks back in his Good Burger costume, but couldn't talk about himself in the same way. In Thompson's words:

It gives me chills. . . . Kel in that wig and outfit, he loves it. He’s in it so much and he looks so happy when he’s doing it.

Not that 'Good Burger' was the only memorable sketch that Kenan Thompson was known for. My own favorite bit of his was "Everyday French with Pierre Escargot," but there was obviously also Superdude, Principal Pimpell, the USS Spaceship's Singo, Lester Oaks and more. Too bad we probably won't get to see any of them outside of archival footage.

pierre escargot all that

Thankfully, though, there will be more All That vets around to keep the nostalgia ratio balanced. Beyond Kenan Thompson, the premiere episode will also feature Kel Mitchell, Lori Beth Denberg and Josh Server. And you bet your books that Denberg will be reprising the role of the Loud Librarian.

Here, Kel Mitchell reflected on hitting the All That stage again for the new show.

The first set done was 'Good Burger.' So imagine this empty set and the light is only on 'Good Burger.' It was the weirdest moment, my heart just stopped. It was like, ‘Wow, this was the start.'

Kenan Thompson had Kel Mitchell have worked together on a ton of things outside of All That, including their titular '90s show and a recent partnering on Nickelodeon's Double Dare reboot. (Not to mention them showing up on Nick Cannon's Wild 'N Out. Members of the All That crew also got together a couple of years ago to host a weekend-long marathon on The Splat, but the new revival will clearly be the biggest All That project since the original series went off the air.

With Saturday Night Live having wrapped Season 44 in May, it'll be a few months before fans will be able to see Kenan Thompson donning a big Steve Harvey mustache again for any TV sketches. But he'll be seen long before that on Bring the Funny, out on July 9, and on All That's return.

Ushering in a summer full of big premieres, All That will kick off anew on Nickelodeon on Saturday, June 15, at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.