Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Old School Lane's Nickelodeon Tribute: All That

The year is 1994. The Lion King, Forrest Gump, Pulp Fiction, and The Shawshank Redemption were released in theaters. Babylon 5, The Tick, The Critic, and Sister Sister debuted on TV. Sketch comedy shows like Saturday Night Live, Kids in the Hall, and In Living Color were becoming all the rage. Nickelodeon decided to cash in on the trend and release a new sketch comedy program for kids and teenagers. While Nickelodeon still had Roundhouse on the air, it wasn't pulling in crowds of people viewing compared to their other shows at the time. So on April 16, 1994, two men named Brian Robbins and Mike Tollin got together and created the sketch comedy show All That.

Borrowed heavily from the 80's Canadian sketch comedy show that aired on Nickelodeon, You Can't Do That on Television, the show consisted of teenagers performing skits throughout the show. In the first two seasons, the cast members consisted of the following:

Josh Server
Angelique Bates
Lori Beth Denberg
Katrina Johnson
Alisa Reyes
Kenan Thompson
Kel Mitchell

Similar to You Can't Do That on Television, only very few adults appeared on the show interacting with the teens. One of them was Kevin Kopelow, who played as their Stage Manager. He would always have something bad occur to him whenever he interacted with the cast. He would always appear and open with the line "Five minutes. The show starts in five minutes."

The second adult that would occasionally appear was Dan Schneider, who played the manager of a fast food restaurant named Good Burger. Dan Schneider was the producer of All That and, while not one of the creators of All That, the main driving force of the show.

Some of the skits of All That were recurring throughout the show. They consisted of the following:

The previously mentioned skit Good Burger starred Kel Mitchell as the dimwitted cashier named Ed. He would constantly get the orders of the customers' food wrong and would show off his stupidity constantly.

Vital Information starred Lori Beth Denberg giving out information to the audience to help them with their everyday lives. However, the information she would give them was always odd, unusual, and strange. If you ever actually follow them, then...well, something's wrong with you.

Cooking with Randy and Mandy starred Kenan Thompson and Angelique Bates as Randy and Mandy respectively who have an obsessive love for chocolate more so than Giada DeLaurentiis (Food Network joke). They would show off chocolate recipes and would end up eating them at the end.

The Loud Librarian starred Lori Beth Denberg as a librarian who constantly makes loud noises. Whenever someone tries to quiet her, the librarian tells them to be quiet because they were being loud.

Everyday French with Pierre Escargot starred Kenan Thompson teaching the viewers to speak French. However, the sentences always translated into something weird and strange.

The Island Girls starred Lori Beth Denberg and Alisa Reyes as two girls named Fran and Kiki respectedly stranded on a deserted island. Kiki was the hyperactive girl who was ditzy while Fran tries her hardest to get free from the island from Kiki. It always doesn't turn out that well.

Ear Boy starred Josh Server as a boy with very large ears. He would get himself in crazy situations that mostly involves his large ears.

Throughout the end of the show, similar to Saturday Night Live, a special celebrity guest would appear and interact with the cast members. Also in the mix, there would be a singer or a band that would perform a song at the end. Some of them included huge singers and bands at the time such as Missy Elliot, Boyz II Men, Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys, and Aaliyah.

While All That was slowly gaining popularity among the viewers, it's started to gain an even larger crowd in the 3rd Season. Angelique Bates' contract ran out for her continuing on All That, so she unfortunately left the show. Her replacement was a sweet, cute, and adorable girl known as Amanda Bynes.

When Amanda appeared on All That, the ratings went extremely high. She was the most popular cast member of the show adored by many people. She had many memorable moments and skits throughout the show, including a skit called Ask Ashley. It was about a girl named Ashley answering questions about a person going through some simple problem and not knowing what to do. Ashley then answers their question in a mean and nasty attitude.

Throughout the 3rd Season, Alisa Reyes and Katrina Johnson left All That for various reasons. They had gotten a temporary replacement named Trisha Dickson.

In the 4th Season, four new members joined the cast of All That: Christy Knowings, Leon Frierson, Zack McLemore, and Danny Tamberelli. New skits were included for these new cast members. The following skits were:

Whateverrr! starred Amanda Bynes and Christy Knowings as two ditzy girly girls named Gina and Jessica respectively talking about girly things like boys, shopping, and clothes. 


Jack Campbell, Fat Cop starred Danny Tamberelli as Jack Campbell, a really fat cop trying to solve cases and fight crime. The problem is is that he focuses more on eating than fighting crime.

Have a Nice Day with Leroy and Fuzz starred Leon Frierson as the host of a kids' show named Leroy. He's accompanied by a blue puppet named Fuzz. Leroy portrays himself as a jerk constantly complaining and hurting Fuzz, while Fuzz was always happy and optimistic. 

It's interesting to note that Chris Farley made one of his last appearances on TV being in a skit with Kenan Thompson before he sadly passed away from a drug overdose in December 1997.

Zack McLemore left halfway through the 4th Season and Christy Knowings and Danny Tamberelli gained a huge amount of popularity among the viewers. At the end of Season 4, Lori Beth Denberg left the show due to being too old for All That similar to Christine "Moose" McGlade from You Can't Do That on Television. Also, just like "Moose", people were really sad and disappointed seeing one of the most popular members of All That leave.

Around the 5th Season, two new faces entered into the show: Mark Saul and Nick Cannon. Mark Saul was known for his chudas  aracters more than his skits. His characters were Ricardo, a ladies' man, Nigel Forrester, a nature TV show host who was a spoof to Steve Irwin and Nigel Thornberry, and Dr. Maybe, a spoof of Dr. No. He even appeared as Ashley in Ask Ashley.

Nick Cannon had sketches known as portraying as Sweaty Spice from the Spice Boys, a spoof of the girls' band group The Spice Girls and a convenience store cashier named Latanya.

The 5th Season had three major events occuring: All That had won for Best TV Show at the 1999 Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards, Kel Mitchell won for Best Actor at the KCA, and they aired their 100th episode. Although, technically it was their 85th episode, the special had former All That cast members Alisa Reyes, Katrina Johnson, Lori Beth Denberg, and Angelique Bates. Also in the mix, just like almost every Nickelodeon show, they bring in their stars at the time such as Larisa Oleynik from The Secret World of Alex Mack, Robert Ri'chard from Cousin Skeeter, and Melissa Joan Hart from Clarissa Explains it All. 

In the 6th Season, All That went through some huge changes. Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell left All That to focus more on their own TV show Kenan and Kel, and a new cast member joined in the crowd. His name was Gabriel Iglesias. 

Also Dan Schneider left All That to focus more on The Amanda Show starring Amanda Bynes. In his place, Kevin Kopelow and Heath Seifert became the new producers of the show. Josh Server became a bit unhappy during this time mostly due to the fact that all of his former cast members were gone and he was the longest member there trying to adapt to the newer members. The popularity began to wane and All That was temporarily cancelled. 

In the 7th Season, All That was started from scratch. Dan Schnieder returned as producer of All That after The Amanda Show was quickly cancelled. All of the old members of the show were booted off and a new cast came in. This became known as "The Relaunch Era". They consisted of the following:

Kyle Sullivan
Lisa Foiles
Chelsea Brummet
Jack DeSena
Bryan Hearne
Shane Lyons
Giovannie Samuels

With a new reboot of the show, they also included new skits. Some of the following were:

Sugar & Coffee starred Lisa Foiles and Kyle Sullivan as two hyperactive talk show hosts named Kaffy and Buzz respectively having a special celebrity guest appearing and interviewing them. During the middle of the interview, Kaffy and Buzz go through a sugar and coffee hype and run around, scream, and consume sugar and coffee. 

Bridgett's Slumber Party starred Chelsea Brummet, Lisa Foiles, and Giovonnie Samuels as three best friends named Bridgett, Claudia, and Gail respectively. Bridgett was the girly girl who was holding the slumber party, Gail was the nice smart girl, and Claudia was the creepy goth chick. Also in the mix Kyle Sullivan played Bridgett's little brother Elliot who would interrupt them during their slumber party.

Randy Quench, Volunteer Fireman starred Jack DeSena as a dimwitted fireman causing more problems than saving them. He was similar to Kel Mitchell's character Repairman.

Kevin Kopelow left All That and a new character took his place. A man simply known as Pickle Boy would go into the cast's dressing room selling pickles. In this season, we were seeing more celebrity guests appear on All That more than the previous seasons before it. The celebrity guests included Dr. Joyce Brothers, Usher, Ray Romano, Justin Timberlake, Buddy Hackett, Tom Green, Aaron Carter, and more. While it is true that All That had guest stars and a singer, it seemed that more and more celebrities seem to have taken the spotlight a bit more than the actual cast members. It made sense in Saturday Night Live or MadTV since they had an hour long timeslot and limited commercials. But in a show like All That, some people didn't like the direction it was going since it pretty much over-saturated the appearance of the celebrity guests.

In Season 8, a new cast member was included in the show: Jamie Lynn Spears, the younger sister of Britney Spears.

 Also in the mix was a competition called R U All That? It would give one lucky kid a chance to be a member of All That. In the end, Christina Kirkman won the competition while Ryan Coleman was the runner-up. They both ended up being in the show in the beginning of the 9th Season, but Kirkman appeared more in the show.

Also in the 9th Season, Bryan Hearne, Shane Lyons, Giovannie Samuels, and Jamie Lynn Spears left All That to pursue in other things. They fixed some of the mistakes that the 8th Season did. One of them was that they no longer had weekly celebrity guest stars, which was a relief to the people who complained about it. Also in the mix, they recreated former skits from previous All That seasons such as Good Burger. It was nice to see them do this change, but seeing these new kids tackle this classic skits just felt a bit lazy. I don't care what you say, Kel Mitchell will always be Ed to me. Sorry Ryan Coleman, I'm sure you did your best, but it's not the same.

When the 9th Season ended, All That celebrated its 10th anniversary. In this special episode, the majority of former All That cast members reunited and performed some of their classic skits. 

The 10th and final season had three new cast members: Kianna Underwood, Denzel Whittaker, and Lil' JJ. Lil' JJ did the now revived Vital Information after not appearing for 4 seasons. The show was waning in popularity and it was finally cancelled on October 22, 2005. The cast members went on to do other things after All That.

Angelique Bates has appeared in TV shows and movies such as Strong Medicine, Boston Public, Thirteen, Tim and Eric Awesome Show: Great Job!, and 35 and Ticking. She's currently working on her first album.

Katrina Johnson has quit acting and does occasional YouTube videos doing skits with former All That alumni such as Angelique Bates and Alisa Reyes. She's currently on the talk radio program Unscripted Radio.

Alisa Reyes has voiced acted and appeared in movies and TV shows such as The Proud Family, One World, V.I.P., Six Feet Under, Without a Trace, Boston Public, ER, My Trip to the Dark Side, and My Trip Back to the Dark Side. She's currently a DJ for Playboy Radio on Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio.

Josh Server has done TV shows such as The Amanda Show, 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd, Drake and Josh, I'm in the Band, and Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide.

Josh Server Picture

Lori Beth Denberg has appeared in movies and TV shows such as The Steve Harvey Show, Malcolm in the Middle, Figure it Out, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, 18 Fingers of Death, and Workaholics. 

Christy Knowings has made appearances on Figure it Out and Sesame Street alongside her twin brother Chris Knowings.

Leon Frierson has appeared in movie and TV roles such as Snow Day, Boston Public, and Bulworth. He's currently in a singing group known as THE CIRCUIT under the name "Sha' Boy Malloy".

Nick Cannon has appeared in movie and TV roles such as Men in Black II, Drumline, Love Don't Cause a Thing, The Parkers, The Nick Cannon Show, Chappelle's Show, America's Got Talent, American Son, The Nightlife, and Up All Night. He's currently the Chairman of TeenNick and the development and creative consultant of the network. He's currently married to singer Mariah Carey and has two children with her: fraternal twins named Monroe and Moroccan. 

Mark Saul has appeared in TV shows such as The Nick Cannon Show, Campus Ladies, NCIS: Los Angeles, Rules of Engagement, Parks and Recreations, Desperate Housewives, Bones, and Grey's Anatomy. He married his long time girlfriend Ilana Berger on June 2012.

Mark Saul Picture

He appeared in one of the 2012 Super Bowl Commercials for Jack in the Box loving a bacon cheeseburger so much that he married it. You probably remember this in my previous post "Old School Lane's Favorite Super Bowl Commercials of 2012".

Chelsea Brummet has appeared in other TV shows such as Gilmore Girls, What I Like About You, The War at Home, and Aspen the Series. 

Jack DeSena has done voice work for shows such as King of the Hill, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Batman, and Generator Rex. He has also done TV shows such as Dorm Life and Battleground. He's currently an active member of the comedy troupe ComedySportz.

Lisa Foiles has done TV roles such as Malcolm in the Middle, Even Stevens, Leverage, The League of S.T.E.A.M., and Your Friends Close. She has dedicated her work mostly to video game reviews and Top 5's for websites like Escapist Magazine, Save Point, Kotaku, and The Game Station.

By the way, if you're a hardcore gamer who loves seeing funny YouTube videos, I cannot recommend checking out Lisa's videos. She's hilarious and an incredible talent.

Shane Lyons has done movies and TV roles such as ER, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, That's So Raven, The Master of Disguise, Elizabethtown, and Wizards of Waverly Place. He was a contestant in the 4th Season of the Food Network program The Next Food Network Star. He was eliminated in the sixth episode. He has worked in fine restaurants creating new re-interpretations of American classics and is currently working in his own kitchen.

Giovonnie Samuels has appeared in other movie and TV roles such as The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, That's So Raven, Choices, Bring it On: All or Nothing, Freedom Writers, and Mr. Box Office.

Gabriel Iglesias has appeared in movies and TV shows such as My Wife and Kids, Last Comic Standing, Kicking It, and Magic Mike. He has had two Comedy Central specials, a TV show called Gabriel Iglesias Presents Standup Revolution, and currently hosting another show called Equals Three. He's currently on a road trip traveling across the country doing his stand up.

If you're interested in checking out his stand up skits, I highly recommend it. 

Kyle Sullivan has done other TV shows and movies such as Mad About You, Seinfeld, The Amanda Show, Cover Me: Based on the True Life of an FBI Family, ER, Malcolm in the Middle, Whatever Happened to Robot Jones?, Scrubs, and The War at Home.

Kyle Sullivan Picture

Bryan Hearne has appeared in TV roles and movies such as Hardball and The Third Watch. He quit acting and is now currently a rap singer alongside his partner Jeffrey Wood in a group called Crown Holders.

Denzel Whitaker has appeared in movies and TV shows such as ER, Brothers and Sisters, The Great Debaters, Training Day, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and Abduction. 

Kevin Kopelow and Heath Seifert wrote and produced for other shows such as Kenan and Kel, Stripperella, Two Heads are Better than None, Jonas, Sonny with a Chance, KaBlam!, Campus Ladies, and 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd. 

They're currently the creators and writers of the Disney Channel program Austin and Ally.

Brian Robbins has collaborated with Mike Tomlin with creating and/or producing other shows such as The Amanda Show, Kenan and Kel, One Tree Hill, Smallville, What I Like About You, and The Bronx is Burning. Robbins has directed financially and commercially failed movies such as Good Burger, Varsity Blues, Hardball, Norbit, Meet Dave, and A Thousand Words. 

Michael Tollin Picture

If you're wondering why we didn't cover Kenan Thompson, Kel Mitchell, Amanda Bynes, Jamie Lynn Spears, or Dan Schneider, don't worry. We'll talk about them some other time.

On November 5, 2011, an All That reunion occured in 2011 Comikaze Expo. Former All That alumni such as Josh Server, Lori Beth Denberg, Alisa Reyes, Lisa Foiles, and more were reunited and interacted with fans who grew up with the show.

Whew! Now that I covered that amount of information, I can finally tell you my overall opinion. Just like You Can't Do That on Television, Out of Control, Welcome Freshmen, and Roundhouse, there are some skits that are pretty much hit and miss. Some of them were not as funny as they once were and got me chuckling every once in a while. However, for the majority of them, they're still pretty funny. Most of them were well written, well performed, and well executed. When it comes to the cinematography and designs, it has held up quite well despite some of the styles of clothes looking like it came from the 90's. My favorite seasons will always be the first 3 seasons, since the most iconic and well known cast members and skits originated from. I did like some of the cast members from the later seasons, but to me, some members were clearly better than others. The contest winners from the R U All That? competition are a good example. They were okay, but really not that funny and didn't really serve a purpose other than a gimmicky way of including new cast members on the show. It's like if they would have included untalented YouTube singers and have them compete on a popular TV show.

Oh wait. They did that already. Never mind.

In today's time, sketch comedy shows are pretty much dead. With the exception of Saturday Night Live, there are no other sketch comedy shows airing. I have been hearing that they're going to reboot In Living Color which is cool, by the way. If they ever did reboot All That, I'm sure it'll turn out okay, but it won't be the same. I highly recommend checking this show out. It was truly one of the best Nickelodeon shows in the 90's that's still has a funny edge.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for our special interviews from three former cast members of All That. Hope to see you around Old School Lane soon. 


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