If you’re anything like me, there are few words that warm your heart on hearing them as much as these:
“Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger, can I take your order?”
The voice behind the words was Kel Mitchell, one half of sketch comedy’s most brilliant duo, Kenan and Kel. Together, Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell made their way from part of an ensemble cast on Nickelodeon’s All That (a sort of mid-’90s Saturday Night Live for kids) to stars of their own show, Kenan & Kel (complete with theme song by rapper Coolio), to headliners of the film Good Burger, a film robbed by Titanic of the best picture Oscar in 1997.
Both Kenan and Kel auditioned for Saturday Night Live after their childhood success, but only Kenan made it. The high (or low) point of Kel’s career in the last decade was a widely-circulated rumor of his death by drug overdose in 2006, prompting the creation of websites and Facebook groups with names like “Kel Mitchell is NOT dead!”
Kenan and Kel, All That, and Good Burger were television essentials for any kid growing up in the 1990s, which makes it all the more sad that, according to Kel, Kenan is not interested in a reunion. Since Kenan’s star has been rising thanks to SNL, Kel has been working steadily as well: producing films, acting in stage plays, and writing and directing 2012′s She Is Not My Sister. That film, which also stars Mitchell, deals with issues of faith, family, and forgiveness–apt topics since, as Mitchell’s Twitter bio reads, he is a “True Man of God” and “Professional Christian,” where he regularly sends messages like “G.R.A.C.E. = ‘God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense’” to his 65,000 followers. Mitchell has also been keeping busy “focusing on his Christianity and raising a family,” says a recent interview with The Atlantic.
Kel Kimble, the Kenan & Kel character Mitchell played, was a lovable idiot whose many taglines included the phrase “Kel loves orange soda.” It was goofy, random humor, the kind of humor parents could trust their kids with on a Saturday night when they were just old enough to be left at home alone. And because his character on Kenan & Kel was so annoyingly optimistic and compassionate, it’s hard to see Mitchell’s happiness for Thompson’s success as anything but brotherly joy.
“I have not been upset about [Kenan's pulling out of a reunion interview]. I respect his choice of wanting to make a name for himself solo,” Mitchell told TMZ last year.
His lack of schadenfreude seems genuine, and although Mitchell’s career may not have followed the same trajectory as his TV best friend, he has a family (a son, Lyric, and a daughter, Allure, with his first wife Tyisha Hampton-Mitchell; he is now married to rapper Asia Lee) and enough on-screen appearances that he is fairly easy to find if you know where to look. And thanks to his seminal role in the lives of millions of kids who grew up in the ’90s, there will always be someone looking.