In the golden era of the mid 90s, millions of viewers were captivated by this sketch comedy masterpiece known as All That. Comedy fans cherish the brilliant eras of Saturday Night Live that featured comedians like Steve Martin and Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo, and Mike Myers and Chris Farley. In 2015, old school Nickelodeon viewers display the same admiration for the original All That whenever we imitate and quote our favorite sketches.
From the opening note of TLC’s infectious theme song, Nickelodeon fans hung out with the coolest kids in the world everyday for a half-hour. Producers Brian Robbins, Mike Tollin, and Dan Schneider assembled the greatest cast of young comedians in the history of children’s television.
Look no further than Lori Beth Denberg and Danny Tamberelli; two of the funniest performers to ever star in the show. In my opinion, they headlined All That’s greatest sketch – “Vital Information For Your Everyday Life.” Denberg set the tone for her fellow cast members to follow since her spontaneous philosophies and charismatic charm made “Vital Information” a cornerstone skit. Tamberelli took the torch and infused his own hyperactive intensity into “Vital Information,” which was quintessential to its continued success.
Denberg and Tamberelli weren’t just stars on All That – they were equally hilarious on the Nickelodeon game show Figure It Out. Does anyone remember how Danny would whip his hair back towards the audience after getting slimed? Nobody – and I mean nobody – asked funnier questions or welcomed “Billy The Answer Head” quite like Denberg. One step further, I remember when Denberg starred on The Steve Harvey Show and Tamberelli headlined the cult classic The Adventures of Pete and Pete.
Nowadays, millennials terribly miss the era of shows like All That. From Twitter to Facebook, we used our social media platforms to launch the SNICK inspired program block: “The ‘90s Are All That.” Since then, our voices have only grown stronger and Nickelodeon has created the retro channel “The Splat,” which airs nonstop 90s classics from 10 PM to 6 AM every night.
To celebrate the launch of “The Splat,” Nickelodeon took the world by storm when they announced the “All That” reunion panel at New York Comic Con. Better yet; Pop-Break joined an exclusive roundtable where we interviewed All That cast members Lori Beth Denberg and Danny Tamberelli. “Fresh out the box/ Stop, look, and watch/ Ready yet, get set/ We interviewed the cast of All That!”
What has this reunion experience been like? Could you even describe it?
Danny Tamberelli: It has been excellent.
Lori Beth Denberg: So far, it’s been so much fun. The four of us together, we’ve slipped right back into it.
Danny: You know when you have that old friend that you haven’t seen in a long time and you’re automatically back in the seventh grade. That’s where we’re at – adolescent, pre pubescent, and all of it. (Laughs)
Lori: Plus, we get to go to Comic Con! Which is cool! (Laughs)
How is the Comic Con going for you so far?
Lori: It’s going like sitting in a room and talking to you. So maybe later we’ll get to walk around or something. I don’t mean to imply that sitting in a room and talking to you isn’t fun. It might not be as fun as walking around Comic Con so…yeah.
Danny: Tell them how you really feel! (Laughs)
Lori: I’m going to individually go around the table and tell you what I don’t like about you…like your grandmother at Thanksgiving.
Danny: My grandmother’s dead!
Lori: Awh! Yeah, I know (Laughs).
Usually the question is, whenever you have a popular show, did you expect it to get this big? Now it’s so far down the road, does it surprise you to see this much passion and excitement for its comeback?
Danny: I think I figured as much. From meeting people and having those kinds of interactions, I saw how much the show meant to them and I felt it was sort of inevitable. Nickelodeon is doing the right thing. We have to teach the parents of the new kids that used to watch All That. We’re going to bring All That to them. We’re going to have smarter kids than these tween kids that are out there right now. These news kids are going to be much better handled because they watched our show essentially.
Lori: Television is the best parenting tool. I think that’s been proven (Laughs). That’s correct. The response I’ve gotten from people – and we all have – over the last twenty years, which is crazy, it’s not surprising that it would come back. The show meant a lot to so many people. That is what’s really gratifying about meeting the fans: it makes us proud to be apart of All That. It’s not even about being recognized like “Oh, they recognize me!” It’s very heartfelt from people when they say, “You were such a huge part of my childhood.” That really resonates. Based off that, I would imagine how excited they must be to watch the show again. So that’s how I felt about that (vintage Lori Beth tone).
Do you feel it’s just a nostalgia thing or does this really mean something to people?
Danny: They go hand in hand. I think for something to be nostalgic, it has to mean something to people otherwise it’s just a memory.
All That or Figure It Out? Which show was your favorite? What made both shows such a unique experience?
Danny: Both of them were very different.
Lori: Those are two different beasts entirely.
Danny: All That was amazing because it was sketch comedy. It was fun to have all these different characters; I was in a fat suit and breaking stuff. I would sit in a hair and makeup for four hours and become a huge crouton alien. You really can’t beat that kind of stuff. That was a lot of fun.
Lori: But we got to sit down the whole time during Figure It Out. Plus, it was all intellectual.
Danny: It was all improv and that’s what I had the most fun doing.
Lori: Yeah, that was just us. My favorite…
Danny: “Are you or have you ever been apart of the communist party?” Ding Ding Ding! Member pops up. But in that second when you hear the ding, that person was a member of the communist party. I thought that was pretty funny.
Lori: Yeah, that was pretty good. That was just a question I asked because we filled in “Billy the Answer Head” so you asked random questions. Actually, did you ask that question or did I ask that one?
Danny: I can’t remember!
Lori: Was it Kevin?
Danny: No, it was Mike O’Malley! (Laughs)
Lori: Mike O’Malley was the host of GUTS! (Laughs)
Danny: It was Mike O’Malley who asked, “Are you or have you ever been a member of the communist party?”
Lori & Danny: Ba dum dum dum! (Laughs)
What was the atmosphere like working at Nickelodeon? Was it a fun place to grow up?
Danny: Oh yeah, everyone was really nice and they didn’t treat you like a kid. They treated you like an adult. You didn’t feel like a little brother or sister in that sort of way. Everyone was very honest and open. They basically said, “Don’t do anything stupid.” And it’s like, “Okay, that’s pretty easy to do.” I mean, “I’m 15 or 16 so I might do some stupid stuff.”
Lori: Lots of stupid stuff (sarcastically whispers).
Danny: I know! I did some stupid stuff (Laughs).
Lori: It was very interesting because Nick Studios was their freestanding. All the shows had come in and out of there. All of the stuff that we watched, it was like, “Oh, they shot Clarissa Explains It All where we’re shooting.” It was one building and two big studios. The hair and makeup people, the crew people, and the office staff; they had done all of these different shows. There was definitely a mindset that we were doing this production and we were all professionals. But there was this likeness about it; they were working with the kids and doing all this crazy stuff that you wouldn’t do on a regular sitcom with adults. You don’t necessarily drop pudding on people everyday and shoot a firehouse of gravy – whatever weird thing we were doing. You don’t always have a giant ear of corn at your job.
Danny: I was going to say a giant ear of corn (Laughs).
Lori: Not always.
Lori: Sometimes, we’re the exception to the rule.
Danny: Those state fairs in Iowa have a lot of corn (Laughs).
Lori: It was goofy and crazy but professional and we were there to work.
Do you have a favorite character from All That?
Lori: I guess Miss Fingerly who was the teacher. Everyone is nodding their head in approval of my choice.
Danny: You had a song that you sang in one episode that till this day, it’s always stuck in my head (Laughs). It went like, “If I could be a temporary principal/ It would be very very sensible/ So vote for me, with your pen and pencibal.” And I don’t know why I remember that (Laughs).
Lori: I have no recollection of that. None at all (Laughs).
Danny: Why is that so ingrained in my head? Because it’s a beautiful melody! I didn’t do it justice, I’m sorry!
Lori: That could be a number one hit! Let’s do a remix of that!
Danny: Pen and pencibal always blew my mind.
Lori: Yeah, that’s pretty good.
Danny: You really found a way to rhyme sensible.
Lori: Yes, and your favorite character Danny?
Danny: It would be Jack Campbell “Fat Cop” for sure because I could become Chris Farley for a sketch and break stuff. I could be very physical and that was sort of my wheelhouse.