Attention: Kel Mitchell is returning to Nickelodeon. We repeat, Kel Mitchell is returning to Nickelodeon. This is not a drill! The actor has a new show called Game Shakers, and it’s premiering tonight. It follows two girls who code (awesome) and strike it big with an app. Kel plays a hip-hop mogul-turned-gaming-company-owner (double awesome) who oversees their whole operation.
Kel made a name for himself in the ‘90s as the up-for-anything player on the network’s sketch show All That. Then, he co-starred alongside Kenan Thompson on Kenan and Kel as the goofy-but-lovable character who worked himself into a frenzy every time orange soda was mentioned. Kenan and Kel were quite the duo, and even parlayed one of their All That sketches into a full-length feature film, Goodburger.
Kenan went on to achieve SNL fame, and Kel more or less retreated away from the spotlight, only to be remembered with the occasional gif or “Repain Man-man-man-man” reference. The Internet often wondered, What happened to Kel? And now, it’s his turn to shine again! The actor sat down with TIME to catch us up and talk about Game Shakers, and, of course, his play in our collective pop culture memory.
Why now? After years away from our small screens Mitchell is coming back and he’s chosen his old home, Nickelodeon, as the venue for his return. Well, the reason actually makes a ton a sense, from a comedian’s point of view.
“Kids are honest — they’ll tell you whether you’re funny or not,” he explained. “And it’s a great network. I’ve been around them for years, so it’s fun to be back. And then also to be working with Dan [Schneider] again, because it’s one of those dream-come-true roles. I also rap and dance and sing myself, so with this character, I get to do all those things at once.”
But even though Mitchell is looking forward to his future with Nickelodeon, don’t let that make you think he’s forgotten his past with the network. He knows that he’s an icon of nostalgia — and he loves it.
“Yeah, it’s awesome,” he said of people coming up to him with ’90s nostalgia freakouts. “It’s crazy, it’s very humbling to hear people say, ‘I was having a bad day when I was a kid and I would rush home to watch you on television and you made my whole day just light up.’ It’s pretty awesome. People still love it today, I get stopped even now. I was just walking in Times Square and someone was like, ‘Hey! Do the orange soda thing! Do ‘welcome to Good Burger!’”
Yes. You read that right. If you ever spot Kel Mitchell on the street, don’t hesitate to get out over his famous catchphrases. He insists that it never bothers him to indulge fans with a bit about orange soda.
“No, it doesn’t get annoying! Not at all, not at all,” he said. “I’m thankful that people enjoyed it and that I was a part of their childhood, so I never get mad. I’m not that child star who goes, ‘Ahhh! I hate that! Why?!’ No, never. I think it’s awesome.”
Oh, and in case you were wondering if Kel really does love orange soda: “Yeah, I do. I do, I doo-oooo.”
That’s the most perfect answer to that question, Kel.
(Image via Nickelodeon.)