3 Things We Love About Dan Schneider’s 1997 “Kenan & Kel” Christmas Special!

The holiday season is upon us! Radios are blasting Christmas songs, lights glow around town, and our TVs are dishing out holiday specials, movies and more. Whether it’s about the decor, presents or entertainment, sometimes digging into the depths of holiday history can be the best way to get into the merry & bright spirit.

That’s what makes “Merry Christmas, Kenan” from “Kenan & Kel” such a joy to watch almost two decades after its 1997 release. We’re super lucky to get to see Kenan Thompson on SNL and Kel Mitchell on Dan Schneider’s “Game Shakers,” but it’s always a treat to take a trip back to the good ol’ days. It comes to no surprise that the “Kenan & Kel” Christmas special is every bit as fun to watch today as it was then!

Here’s the highlights!

1. The Tubaphone

“It’s not just a tuba, it’s a phone!” Kel says excitedly at the sight of this “As seen on TV” product. The tubaphone is a thing of genius for its absurdity alone. After Kel expresses his admiration for the tubaphone at a toy store, Kenan exclaims, “Many times I’ve been talking on the telephone and thinking, ‘you know, if only I could be blowing a tuba during this conversation!”

The tubaphone is is actually a real instrument, not a Tuba with a phone in it. A real tubaphone is more like a xylophone-glockenspiel hybrid, so if you’re asking for one for Christmas, it would be a good idea to specify whether you want the tubaphone classic, or the illusive tuba and telephone combo.

2. The Christmas Carol Lady

“I do looooove Christmas!” the Christmas Carol Lady croons with delight. Most of us might be overjoyed if a nice old granny came into our place of business singing carols, but it turns out Kenan is not most of us. After Kenan insists he’s allergic to carols, she proceeds to sing the 12 Days of Christmas with incredible enthusiasm. Kenan quickly sings her out the door.

3. Kenan’s Santa Skills

As much as he hates Christmas carols, Kenan sure makes a good Santa Claus! After the mall Santa is punched by a child, Kenan and Kel are recruited for Santa and elf duty. To everyone’s surprise, Kenan is a hit! Not only do the kids love him, but Kenan develops mystical linguistic skills. He’s able to communicate with a young girl from “Fishlakia” and even join her in the traditional songs of her people!

But perhaps the best part about Kenan as Santa is that he takes the job seriously enough to actually be Santa for two young children. He uses the money he was saving for a mountain bike to buy bikes for these special kids. As destiny would have it, the actor Kenan Thompson would resume his role as St. Nick on SNL many years later… this time as Sump’n Claus.

Stick around until the end and you can hear the entire cast sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas!” Unfortunately, Kenan is too excited by the prospect of New Years to finish the song. Aw, here goes…


Kenan & Kel” is an American teen comedy sitcom that aired on Nickelodeon for four seasons, premiering in 1996. “Kenan & Kel” starred Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell as its titular characters. The show was created by Kim Bass and produced by Dan Schneider. Dan Schneider is an American actor, TV and film actor, and producer.

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