Kel Mitchell Reveals Details of Falling Out With Kenan Thompson

Kel Mitchell, Good Burger and Kenan & Kel star, delved into what his relationship with co-star Kenan Thompson has been like since their 1990s kids show ended on Nickelodeon, and revealed why the two men hadn’t spoken in years before reuniting for various sketches and eventually, 2023’s sequel to Good Burger.

Mitchell sat down for an interview on Shannon Sharpe’s Club Shay Shay podcast and was asked whether the strain on he and Thompson’s relationship was because Thompson had landed a gig on Saturday Night Live, given that they had both auditioned at the same time. Thompson, who has now been on the show for more than 20 seasons, holds the record for the longest running cast member in the show’s history. “When people watch us on television, they’re thinking, ‘Oh, this is his brother,’” Mitchell began, “‘They [must] hang out all the time’—but this is a job.”

“When [Kenan & Kel] ended…we are adults,” he continued, “so you gotta kinda look at it like, us being adults and navigating our own things throughout life.” After the two men were no longer connected by their hit Nickelodeon show, they bumped into one another years later while auditioning for SNL. “We hadn’t talked in a long time,” at that point, Mitchell admitted.

“When he gets on the show around that time and we go to audition, I didn’t even know Kenan was gonna be there,” he continued, “[People] felt like it was like this fight, but it wasn’t. It was just a thing of, ‘Oh, you here too? OK, let’s audition.’”

“I didn’t get the audition, which was fine,” Mitchel said. “I don’t look at it as, I was upset at my boy [for getting the job]—that wasn’t what it was. What was really going on was what was happening behind the scenes,” where, “we just didn’t talk.” Nearly two decades later, Mitchell said he’d been hearing that Thompson made comments about not wanting to work with him anymore, and admits that the two had “butted heads” at some point.

“I was invited to the Kids Choice Awards to give [Thompson] an award with all the other actors,” Mitchell also said in the interview, “knowing the past of us butting heads, and knowing too, the conversations that he had with other people as far as, ‘Forget Kel, I don’t wanna work with Kel.’” Mitchell said that after becoming a Christian, he decided to focus on forgiveness. The gesture put them on the path to working together again.

After the Kids Choice Awards, Mitchell said a mutual friend suggested he reach out to Thompson, and the two ended up reconnecting with an hour-long phone conversation. “That was good for us, to have that conversation as adults,” Mitchell said, Shortly after that, the pair reunited for “Good Burger” sketch on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show in 2015. Newly reconciled, Mitchell said he and Thompson vowed not to let show business get in between them again. “We found out within that conversation that we both had people talking within our ear,” he continued, with “people telling me things about Kenan, [and] people telling him things about me too.”

“Within that process [of reconnecting], which was really deep, I told him, ‘Yo, look, I’m not getting back in contact with you because of [work opportunities]. I could care [less] if we don’t do this, it’s whatever. I know us as brothers and what we’ve been through and the experiences that we experienced,” Mitchell said, and now “every day we’re speaking to one another as far as brothers, and just checking on each other.”

Thompson and Mitchell reprised their Kenan & Kel characters in 2022, on Keke Palmer’s SNL episode with the sketch “Kenan & Kelly,” before reuniting once again for the sequel to their 1997 comedy Good Burger last year, which premiered on Paramount+ last year. And more collaborations may be on the horizon, Mitchell teased: “We’ve definitely been talking about more projects.”