Kenan Thompson Made His TV Debut 30 Years Ago Today

Twenty years in, Kenan Thompson is the longest serving cast member on Saturday Night Live, but he likely owes part of his success on the show to his early work on another sketch comedy series, Nickelodeon’s All That, which premiered thirty years ago today on April 16th 1994.

Created as a Saturday Night Live for kids by Mike Tollin and Brian Robbins, All That consisted of comedy sketches performed by a cast of kids, alongside performances from some of the biggest musical acts of the day.

As it happened. Thompson—then fresh off his screen debut in  D2: The Mighty Ducks—was the very first person All That viewers saw onscreen in a cold open:

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Much like his SNL career, Thompson’s time on All That was marked by a large number of characters including Pierre Escargot, Superdude, and a Bill Cosby impression that he’d later bring to SNL.

Thompson departed All That after its fifth season in 1999, but the show continued to run for five more seasons through 2005. A revival aired between 2019-2020, executive produced by Thompson. The show has been back in the conversation in the wake of the docuseries Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids’ TV, which explores the toxic culture behind-the-scenes of various Dan Schneider shows. (Schneider began as a head writer on All That, before later serving as an EP.)

Less than four years after Kenan’s last appearance on All That, he was hired by Saturday Night Live for its 29th season in 2003.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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