While Kenan Thompson has spent the last 13 years making us laugh on SNL, many also know him as one of the original cast members of the Nickelodeon sketch-comedy classic All That. Characters like Pierre Escargot, Superdude, and Miss Piddlin made kids of all ages burst into fits of laughter, eventually leading him and fellow cast member Kel Mitchell to their own show, Kenan & Kel. Here, Kenan takes a stroll down memory lane back to his earliest of glory days. Wetpaint: You’ve been doing sketch and improv seemingly your whole life. When did you know comedy was something you seriously wanted to pursue? Kenan Thompson: I didn’t take it seriously until I got on Nickelodeon and saw that it was a real business. Before that, I just wanted to be on TV because I liked watching TV as a kid, like Double Dare and stuff like that, as opposed to becoming a writer and crafting my own sitcom and having that whole business aspect of the whole thing. I was unaware of that whole process. I guess I was just a young, fun-loving kid! Me and my older brother was always quoting Coming to America, Spies like Us, 48 Hours, and all those movies, just having fun amongst ourselves. When I started acting, doing theater stuff at a young age I was always the comic relief type roles, so I knew I had a funny bone and could make groups of people laugh, but I didn’t really take it seriously until I started getting paid on a weekly basis, then I was like, “Oh, well, this could be a lifestyle [laughs].” Do you keep in touch with your old All That cast mates? Yeah, me and Josh [Server] have always been really close and me and Kel [Mitchell] are really close. We had a reunion with everybody else recently, and it was nice to see everybody I haven’t seen in some years. Me and Danny Tamberelli played the guitar, he’s teaching me the guitar all the time. So yeah, there’s a little pocket of friends that I still kick it with. What was the dynamic between you and Kel like coming up as a comedy duo? It was awesome, because we were that close in real life. We spent a lot of time together and our families are very, very similar, with the only difference being he’s from Chicago and me being from Atlanta. Both of our mothers are very short, strict women. We’re both very family-bonded and we recognized that the first day, and we just started kicking it from there. How did you initially link up with The Cristian Rivera Foundation? The organization is dedicated to finding a cure for a horrible, horrible disease. It’s a brain tumor kids are getting on their brain stem. The survival rate is very, very low. I knew Cristian, I know his father. His father used to actually host a couple of the clubs I used to go to. He was always really nice to me and I lost touch with him for some years and ran back into him and he told me what happened. What made you decide to become a board member? When I ran back into him he invited me to be on the board and I was like, ‘yeah, sure!’ Cancer is a close issue for me; I’ve lost a few family members to it. Just to hear that this particular disease is targeting children is a horrible thing. It seemed like a no-brainer, it’s not like I have to do much.You know, show up and try to raise awareness is the least I could do. How important is it for celebs and those with a platform to support meaningful causes like this? I think it’s of the utmost importance. What else are you going to use your platform for than what you’re already putting out into the world? If you can use it for some other kind of positive thing, it should be almost mandatory. To learn more about the organization or to make a donation, please visit The Cristian Rivera Foundation.
The Cristian Rivera Foundation presented Dr. Mark Souweidane with $30,000 at its Second Annual Gala, which took place at NYC event space Quo on Tuesday, October 19. The money raised from ticket sales is funding promising clinical research that Dr. Souweidane feels will revolutionize the treatment of Pontine Glioma. Dr. Souweidane, who also received the Foundation’s Vision of Hope award, has dedicated his career to the goal of curing this inoperable brain stem tumor. This substantial donation was just one of the night’s many highlights. Guests got the chance to bid on unique items in both live and silent auctions, including boxing gloves autographed by legendary boxer Muhammad Ali and a date with “Las Gemelas Lulu y Lala” from The Luis Jimenez Show on X96.3. Celebrity Chefs Alex Garcia and Ricardo Cardona, recipients of the night’s Outstanding Service Awards, fed the night’s guests with food donated from top NYC restaurants. In addition, Cristian Rivera Foundation founder John “Gungie” Rivera presented Committee Members Tedsmooth and Kenya Bradix with the Cristian Rivera Humanitarian Award for their tireless efforts and dedication to the community. Both of them were very close to Cristian and were touched by the surprise honor. Rivera also presented a special posthumous honor to Ralph Mercado, Sr., who passed away from a brain tumor five weeks after Cristian Rivera lost his life to Pontine Glioma. Among those in attendance were Dangerous Minds actor Renoly Santiago, actor/singer Frankie Negron, Committee Member and rapper Jim Jones, legendary producer and Committee Member Little Louie Vega, Committee Member and former New York Knicks All Star Anthony Mason, Committee Member Funkmaster Flex, Committee Member J.I. Starr of La Mega, singer George Lamond, comedian Ruperto Vanderpool, Committee Member Mr. Olympia Victor Martinez, Committee Member and music producer Boy Wonder of Chosen Few, Committee Member DJ Camilo, singer Brenda K. Starr, singer O’Neill McKnight, Committee Member and film producer David Maldonado, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, and Former Bronx Borough President and Committee Member Fernando Ferrer.