June 3, 2023

We met comedian and actor Kel Mitchell as a young teen, when he and his partner in crime, Kenan Thompson, were introduced to the public on Nickelodeon’s “All That.”

The hit show featured sketch comedy, a TLC theme song, and performances by hip-hop artists.

And it was a dream for Kel, who grew up on Chicago’s south side rapping and doing graffiti.

“These are people I listened to on a CTA bus just a year ago,” he told me this week during “Renaissance Man” of “All That’s” musical guests.

And now I’m chilling [with them]. And they gave me advice. It was really like, ‘Yo, this is great now.’”

Of course, returning to his home in Chicago after production was humiliating.

“I remember when I got home my parents said, ‘Take out the trash.’ That’s why I love my family,” Kel told me.

They grounded him while his star rose.

He was raised by a good tribe.

Both his parents are now retired, but his mother was a teacher and his father a psychologist.

They knew they had a class clown, so they filled his diary with whatever they could find. Boy Scouts, the church and later acting.

“They tried everything when I was a kid. And I mean, I did every activity you can think of. But acting is the one that has stayed with me. Shout out to ETA Creative Arts Foundation… They sent me to the theater in our community where we watched plays and they had a summer program. And when I stepped into that theater, I was like, ‘Yo, this is it. This is what I want to do,” he said, adding, “It was just a positive thing to do.”

And then there was the church, where he was a fixture.

He was in the choir and his youth pastor was also a sensei there who taught the children martial arts.

He credits the theater and the church for keeping him on the straight and narrow as a kid in Chicago, where there were so many landmines for impressionable kids.

“I love my city because I always say there are two sides. There’s the wrong side and there’s the right side. You know, for the youth… we have to support the good side, the things that are going on within our community,” he said.

“But yes, the point is that I saw a lot coming. I lost some friends along the way.”

Even as an adult, he relied on the church and his faith as he openly dealt with depression and addiction.

He is now a youth pastor and author of Blessed Mode: 90 Days To Level Up Your Faith.

Kel Mitchell
Kel Mitchell starred in Nickelodeon’s ‘Kenan & Kel’.
Getty Images

And last year he released “Prank Day,” an illustrated novel for children.

He is now a Christian rapper and considers himself an ‘ambassador of Christ’.

But that doesn’t mean his taste in comedy isn’t edgy.

His influences were Martin Lawrence and the entire cast of “In Living Color”.

And of course there’s his old friend Kenan, who had him on “Saturday Night Live” a few months ago to reprise his role from “Kenan & Kel,” the “All That” spin-off sitcom.

‘Keke Palmer did [hosting ‘SNL’]. She had a fun, fun, fun idea to do ‘Kenan & Kel’ where she would play [a new character in the world of the kids’ show]. And ‘SNL’ was like, ‘Oh, this is great. Let’s do it,” said Kel.

Kenan texted him and asked him to fly the next day.

“I’m in the building and they’re transforming the whole set,” Kel said of the “SNL” studio. “It looked just like Rigby’s shop in Kenan & Kel.” Keke is incredibly talented. And we surprised her, because she didn’t know I was going to end up in it. So she was excited.

“And yes, man, we loved doing that. Shout out to ‘SNL.’”

Kel Mitchell from the TV series "All of that" attends the tapestry at 90s Con on March 18, 2023 in Hartford, Connecticut.
Kel Mitchell attends the tapestry at 90s Con on March 18, 2023 in Hartford, Connecticut.
Getty Images

That mini-reunion was just a starter of the main course, as he and Kenan are about to start production on “Good Burger 2” as well.

It’s a highly anticipated sequel for fans who grew up with the 1997 film, which has endured and continues to ensnare new audiences.

“You’re talking about ’97. There are small children who are not even born yet [then]they have Good Burger birthdays,” he said.

“I just love it so much that it has a special place in people’s hearts.”

“We spent a long time working on the script,” he added, promising lots of family fun and celebrity drop-ins.

“It was cameo crazy,” he said of the original. “So I’ll say this: [There’s] cameos on steroids in this one… And a lot of the people you loved in the first one will be back.

So get ready for Kel Mitchell’s renaissance with his latest movie.

As he said, “It’s going down.”

Born in Detroit, Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan’s iconoclastic Fab Five that shook up the world of college hoops in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA before transitioning into a media personality. Rose is an analyst for ‘NBA Countdown’ and ‘Get Up’ and co-host of ‘Jalen & Jacoby’. He was an executive producer of “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the author of the best-selling book “Got To Give the People What They Want”, a fashion tastemaker and co-founder of the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter school in his hometown.