Dan Schneider is the man behind nine of Nickelodeon’s most memorable shows, from All That to iCarly, and now the showrunner is getting recognized for his 20 years of work at the network with their very first Lifetime Achievement Award.
Schneider will be presented with the award at this Saturday’s Kids’ Choice Awards — an honor Schneider is overjoyed to receive, but also a bit confused by. “At first, I felt like, aren’t I too young for a lifetime achievement award?” the 48-year-old tells EW.
The self-described “perpetual adolescent” also talked about what set prop he’d keep if his house was on fire, why he won’t do another All That reboot, and his feelings on Nickelodeon’s notorious slime. Check out our interview with him below:
What was your reaction when you found out you got the Lifetime Achievement Award?
I felt delighted and honored and shocked. I’ve been working with Nickelodeon for 20 years now and they haven’t had an award like that, to my knowledge, so I had no idea they were planning to give one and the fact that they were giving one to me, I was just like… I’m so connected with Nickelodeon I usually kind of know most of what’s going on there. And it totally caught me off guard. I just feel really proud. At first, I felt like, aren’t I too young for a lifetime achievement award?
I know! That’s what I was thinking too.
I’m still in my 40s. I’m like, isn’t that the kind of thing you give to a guy in his 70s? Then again, Nickelodeon is, I’ve been there a long time. I’ve created, I think I’m on my ninth show for them now, and so I guess it makes sense. And it’s just a huge honor. I was just very touched by it. This is part of why I love working with Nickelodeon is because it’s like a family. I feel like it’s just a warmer, happier place than most of television is, you know?
So on another note, I loved All That…
All That and The Amanda Show were sketch comedies, so what made you stop doing those sketch shows? Was it a conscious decision?
I’m not done with sketch comedy. I love it. For now, I’m just really having fun with narrative shows and the sitcoms because I love that format too. So there’s really not been a conscious decision to switch from one to the other. I love both.
Have you ever talked of doing another All That reboot?
If I did sketch comedy again, I would probably want to create something brand-new. So I probably would not reboot it. I would want to kind of break the mold and start over and think of a new way to do sketch comedy. And that could happen in a few years, not in the immediate future though.
TV obviously has changed a lot since the ’90s and even early 2000s and I’ve read that you don’t really watch your competitors’ shows, is that correct?
That’s true, I really don’t.
How do you know what kids want to see with changing tastes and things like that?
I feel like I have a very sort-of young outlook on life. I like to have fun, I like to have toys. My wife, Lisa, collects vintage toys, and so there’s a lot of those around the house. So if you come into my house, it’s a fun vibe to it. And I kind of feel like, in a way, I’m a bit of a perpetual adolescent in terms of enjoying comedy and liking to have a good time. So I just feel like because I’ve stayed with Nickelodeon and because I’ve never kind of become a stuffy grown-up adult… Maybe it’s because I’ve never had kids myself. Because I think sometimes when you have kids yourself that’s when you kind of turn the corner and you become like, “okay, I’m a real grown-up now!”
You said that you and your wife collect a lot of toys, so I’m curious, do you have one favorite toy — like if your house was on fire, what would you grab?
On iCarly, there was a, in the main room of the show where the apartment where Carly lived with Spencer, there was a sculpture that Spencer made called the Bottle Bot. It’s a big robot made out of green plastic soda bottles. And the day that iCarly wrapped its final episode I immediately had our production assistants put it in a van and take it to our house. And it’s now in our living room right in the corner. I love that piece of set dressing because it played a big role, it played a small role in the pilot of iCarly and it’s featured in every episode. I’ve got a lot of props from Drake and Josh here, from All That. My house is kind of littered with funny props and set dressings from my shows over the years.
Is there one character you’ve helped create that you really connect with?
I might say Spencer [from iCarly]. There’s a line in the last iCarly, and it’s probably my favorite line I’ve ever written, although it’s certainly not the funniest. It’s where Carly is thanking Spencer for being her guardian, and I almost can get choked up when I talk about it, she says to Spencer, “Being a grown-up doesn’t mean you have to stop being silly, and creative, and fun.” That’s what Spencer represented to Carly and I kind of feel like that sort of may be my message to kids everywhere. Yeah, growing up is important and we all have to learn responsibility and we all have to become responsible adults, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stop being creative and having a good time. I wrote that line for Carly to Spencer and I guess that was maybe my message to the world or something. I don’t know.
That’s a beautiful answer. I’m getting teary-eyed over here.
I get choked up when I talk about it. iCarly was really special to me and writing that final episode was… it was so important to me that it be good and I really tried hard.
What made iCarly so special to you?
You know what, people ask me all the time, “What’s your favorite show you’ve ever created?” And I always say, it’s like asking a parent “Who’s your favorite kid?” You like them all for different reasons. Zoey 101 is the most beautifully photographed show, I think in terms of kids’ TV. Drake and Josh, there are many people who would tell you it’s my funniest show. iCarly was very special to me for a lot of reasons. It was just one of those shows where everything worked perfectly. And I just loved making it. If you wanted me to bore the hell out of you and spend two hours on the phone with you, I could tell you why I love every one of my shows. Every one of them, there’s a story to it and I love them all for different reasons.
Maybe another time! So you hosted the second Kids’ Choice Awards, right?
I did, I co-hosted it.
You’re coming full-circle now.
I am! And now this will be my first time appearing on the Kids’ Choice Awards again. I’m really excited. It’s such an honor. It makes me, it almost makes me choke up. It probably will.
Good! People like to see that. Some raw emotion.
I’ll try not to cry on TV.
Maybe it’ll get mixed up with the slime.
I hope they slime me! I’d love to be slimed.
Watch the Kids’ Choice Awards at 8 p.m. ET this Saturday on Nickelodeon after a special hour-long episode of Schneider’s show Sam & Cat at 7 p.m. ET.