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Sunday, 16 November 1997

I Was An 'All That' Extra | Ooze News | November 1997

Quick note: This post is currently incomplete, however, to celebrate the debut of Nickelodeon's All That revival, premiering Saturday, June 15 at 8:30 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon U.S.A., I thought I'd post the main part of the article, which goes behind-the-scenes of '90s All That. I'll update this post will the full issue of Ooze News soon. For now though, please enjoy "I Was An 'All That' Extra"!

Ooze News - November 1997


We sent writer and part-time actor David Lewman to the All That set to find out what it's like to be an extra (a person in a crowd) in a "Good Burger" sketch. In the segment, guest star Sherman Hemsley, of the TV shows Goode Behavior and Amen, plays a food critic who gets served a puppy instead of a burger.


1 Knock-knock

I arrive at All That's greenroom, where I find other extras hanging out. I think they call the waiting room the greenroom because the extras are green with envy of the show's stars. [It's really called the greenroom because the first ones were painted that color.] There's a big TV where we can watch what's happening on stage.

2 Puppy chow

I'm given a script to read while I'm waiting. In it, one actor declares, "Hey, that guy's trying to eat a puppy." The rest of the extras are supposed to react and say stuff like "Huh?" "What?" or "Man!" I decide to say "A puppy?" My first line! Excited, I share my idea with a kid who turns out to be the puppy's owner. Another extra looks on, smiling, and hoping to get her picture in the magazine. (She does.)

3 Getting in character

I explain to my fellow extras how I see my character, a customer at Good Burger: He's hungry, perhaps even thirsty for root beer; he likes puppies.

4 All dressed up

As instructed, I've brought four casual outfits. The wardrobe person quickly picks out jeans and a plaid shirt for me. "Where's my dressing room?" I ask. She points to the men's room.

5 Hanging out

I visit the dressing room of All That stars Lori Beth Denberg and Alyssa Reyes. I ask Lori, who is dressed as a baby for a different sketch, whether she has ever been an extra. "Never," she says. "Well," I think, "at least I don't have to wear a diaper!"

6 Powder my nose

The prop person gives me a backpack to carry. The stage manager tells me when and where to walk. The makeup artist wipes powder on my face.

7 Practice makes imperfect

During rehearsal, I stand behind a fake wall a Good Burger waiting for my cue to walk onto the set. Kel Mitchell, who's always clowning around, says, "Welcome to Bad Burger, Home of the Bad Burger."

8 Advice from the pros

After rehearsal, we go outside while the audience is "loaded" in. Kenan Thompson and Kel ride bikes around the lot. "Do you have any advice for me before I shoot my big scene?" I ask some of the All That cast. "Try not to be awful," cautions Josh Server. Amanda Bynes cheers, "Have fun!" Continued >>

9 Welcome to Good Barker

This is it! The scene starts. From behind the fake wall, I can hear the audience laughing. After Sherman gets his order, I walk over to the counter and look up at the menu.

10 Look, Ma, I'm acting!

I react to the man who says Sherman (seated, left) is going to eat the puppy. After the first take, the director tells us to react even more. In the second take, Kenan and Kel start laughing and we end up doing the scene over five times. This gives me time to get ready to put everything I have into my line. When the moment comes, I exclaim "A puppy?" right on cue. The audience cheers. Hey, I could get used to this.

11 The price of fame

Afterwards, I hand out pictures to my fans...and sign a few autographs. How do you spell superstar?

12 Hooray for Hollywood

I leave the Paramount lot with big plans for my future...maybe next time I'll be an extra on Rugrats.

And All That Jazz
  • An All That extra is paid between $70 and $75 for a day's work.
  • The burgers behind the Good Burger counter are just wrapped buns.
  • The director doesn't say "action" or "cut." The stage manager starts the scene by saying "In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1" and ends it by yelling "clear."
  • Extras often don't make it to the final cut of an episode. If you watch David's scene carefully, you'll get a glimpse at one of his legs, but not much else.

Watch this All That episode on Saturday, November 1, at 8:30 PM *.

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