Dear Mr. Kenan Thompson,
I’m writing this open letter to ask you—respectfully—to take these comments into serious consideration. For 10 seasons, America has come to know you as the guy who sings, “What’s Up With That” on Saturday Night Live, and who does a pretty decent Bill Cosby impersonation. But I grew up knowing the other Kenan Thompson, the one that seems to be locked in a closet because you’re now a “Not Ready For Prime-Time Player.” Since word broke around the interwebs that you and SNL creator Lorne Michaels are developing a comedy script that will serve as a vehicle to get you in front of more viewers, it seems that you have a wish to rid yourself of your comedic past by disassociating yourself with your ol’ Kenan & Kel buddy, Kel Mitchell.
While there’s nothing wrong with upping your celebrity persona in the public eye, there is something off-putting about you disregarding your roots. You see, as a #Section80s baby, you were a part of a comedy troupe that loomed large in a lot of people’s childhood. Your association with Nickelodeon’s All That spawned countless fans (even your own show and movie). We all appreciated your “Everyday French With Pierre Escargot,” which taught us comical French phrases to use amongst our friends on the playground, or on girls who thought we were from the islands.
But the trill magic du jour we all enjoyed most came when you and Kel would link up for those classic “Good Burger” sketches. So, why would you ignore your former co-worker and spurn any chance for a Kenan & Kel reunion?
You two were our Black Abbott and Costello, our PG-13 version of Keenan Ivory and Damon Wayans. Armed with an ability to disarm with charm and hatch schemes while singing songs to carbonated beverages made you, alongside Kel, seem like a comedic force in the making. To any 12-year-old, you two were able to fill the void for those who weren’t old enough to listen to legendary funnymen like Eddie Murphy or Richard Pryor.
Kenan, do you hear that? It’s the sound of millions of people’s childhood dreams being shattered. Bringing you two back together would do well to crush the notion that once a Black actor has gone mainstream, he or she forgets the road taken to get there.
At the moment, you’re not doing a convincing enough job to prove that notion false. It seems as if you want nothing to do with your former orange soda-loving co-star… but why?! There are more pros than cons in this situation. While you may think there’s a risk in going backwards, there’s actually a healthy reward in reuniting with your Good Burger comrade. Nostalgia is big business in entertainment. A reunion between you and Kel Mitchel would do well for millions of millennials looking to laugh along with something familiar, memorable, and not trippy like Regular Show or Adventure Time.
You already know all the cards are there, Kenan. Lorne Michaels is eager to put you in a prime-time position on TV; the writers behind Saturday Night Live are at your disposal; and there is true desire to see you and Kel back together. So, why can’t you just take our order?
Mr. Thompson, if you insist on being treated like a star, then you must know that a star is only as bright as its constellation. We, the fans, are your support system. It is our American right to insist that you let bygones be bygones, put your buddy Kel back to work and stop ignoring the truth: you’re funnier with him than without him.
If these reasons have not forced you to look at your comedic history to see the impact that you’ve left in all of our funny bones, then I leave this last point to put an exclamation as to why reuniting Kenan & Kel is great for Kenan and Kel (and by association, us): “I’m a dude, she’s a dude, he’s a dude, ’cause we’re all dudes. HEY!”
Kevin L. Clark