“Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger…” and I bet you can fill in the blank, especially if you’re a ‘90s kid. It’s hard to believe that the Kel Mitchell and Kenan Thompson led film came out way back in July 1997. That’s 25 years ago. Whoaaaa. Paramount Pictures is celebrating this milestone Good Burger anniversary with a limited-edition Blu-Ray Steelbook, available on July 19. In honor of this awesome release—and the nostalgia it brings—Nerdist sat down with Kel Mitchell to chat Good Burger, his multi-generational fanbase, and catchphrases.
Nerdist: Pretty much every ’90s kid grew up seeing you on Good Burger, All That, and Kenan & Kel, so we feel like we know you. But, who was Kel Mitchell the person back in 1997?
Kel Mitchell: Ooh, 1997. A kid from Chicago. At this point, I had been on television for a few seasons on All That. [Good Burger] was my first movie, so I was excited to see it come out. And I was getting a lot of good advice from Kenan as well on the film, you know? I was going to all these different places promoting the movie. I had just gotten out of high school in ‘96, so I was juggling that and college at the same time.
Wow, that’s a lot. Since Good Burger was your first movie, was there anything you learned on set that you carried with you throughout your career?
I learned a lot with Good Burger as far as scheduling and things like that… [director] Brian Robbins was telling me and Kenan a lot of things. We were hanging out at night and partying, but we had to be on set super early, like 4:00 a.m., I think. When we walked in, he was like, “You guys got to go to bed. What are you doing?! You can’t party, you can’t party.” I was like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. The schedule, the schedule. Got to go to bed.”
When you were creating Ed’s personality, what characters or people influenced you?
I watched like a lot of Bill & Ted, Saved by the Bell, those different things. I’m from the South Side of Chicago, but this was my version of a Valley kid. And it was just like (imitates Ed), “Wow, dude. Yeah, cool.” Me and my homies and my cousins used to do it to be funny. I did it in the audition and it just took off, and then the writers created this beautiful world of Good Burger around this voice. I come from theater so I always think, “What’s the character’s background, where did he come from? How does he walk, how does he move?” And I got Ed’s walk together and thought, “He needs something. He needs some hair.” I walked into the makeup and hair room on the All That set and I saw this Milli Vanilli wig and put it on and it worked.
That’s hilarious. One thing I really love about you as an actor and as a comedian is that you didn’t feel the need to change your brand of comedy to go the Eddie Murphy Raw route. You stuck to who you’ve always been. What was behind that decision?
It kind of organically just kind of happened. I enjoy doing family entertainment and working with kids and doing positive things and stories that have a great message that you can watch with the entire family. I think that’s so important… I remember when Jamie Foxx told me, “Hey, stay with the kids, man. Stay doing that because they’re going to grow up with you. Every time you do that, you get a new generation [of fans] enjoying you.” And he was definitely right, because now I have parents from the ’90s that come up to me [with] kids who don’t even know Good Burger, they know…
Yes, from Game Shakers! And then they’re introduced to Good Burger and it blows their mind.
That’s awesome! You know, a lot of people may not know that you’re an author, too. You had a book come out last year and then you’ve got Prank Day coming soon. Tell us all about it.
This is a novel, it’s a fiction book for kids called Prank Day. Pre-order is available now. It comes out September 6 and it’s about a kid that does pranks on April Fool’s. And then the next day, all the pranks come real. So now there’s a running refrigerator and he has to figure out why this is happening. Like All That, it’s very diverse with amazing characters in. And it still has that same zaniness that Good Burger has as well. So I’m super excited about it… so much great stuff coming with Prank Day and the 25th anniversary of Good Burger! And the Steelbook is awesome, it looks amazing. I go to a lot of comic cons and people are always bringing me art and collectibles, so this is one to have in your arsenal.
Perfect for signing! Is there anything you’ve gotten from a fan that you’ve held onto over the years?
I have a lot of framed art that I do hold onto when it looks really amazing. But I got a lot of funny stuff too. Somebody brought me a screw in a tuna. If you ever watched Kenan & Kel, when I go, “I dropped the screw in the tuna.” Someone actually brought me tuna with a screw in it. That was super hilarious, because the tuna was dripping. So I didn’t keep that one, but shout-out to the fan for doing that.
Big bottles of orange soda?
Is there a Kel Mitchell character catchphrase that you’ve just heard over and over again and you are tired of it?
I’m fine with still hearing [them]! I have so many, and I think that’s cool. Someone actually posted a meme where it’s like I have the most ’90s catchphrases. And it’s like the “Welcome to Good Burger,” “Repairman, man, man, man, man,” “Jupiter,” “Who loves orange soda?” “Aw, here it goes.” I love it and I love my fans.