It’s the return of the funky child. At age 57, after a long hiatus, The Arsenio Hall Show is back five nights a week.
It popped off on Monday night as Arsenio went hard, bringing out Snoop Dogg to perform his 1993 hit "What's My Name?" Ex-flame and former American Idol host Paula Abdul also showed up with an endless stream of Arsenio compliments. Chris Tucker was the main guest and Tara Reid even made an appearance in the audience. It was like old times.
Twenty years ago Arsenio Hall broke ground by becoming the first African-American to host a prime time, late night talk show. At the time, Johnny Carson ruled the late-night airwaves and commanded major ratings, but Arsenio’s appeal to the younger audience and the way he embraced early hip-hop and brought it into the living rooms of mainstream America, made his show a must watch for the six years (1989-1994) it was running.
The Arsenio Hall Show wasn’t just a late-night party, featuring comedy, a lot of fist pumps and Hall shouting, “Let’s Get Busy.” It was the show to watch if you wanted to see new flavor and African-American stars highlighted in a classy and unforgettable way. The show was revolutionary, inspirational and historic. Despite his humor, Hall was never afraid to handle some hard-hitting, socially relevant topics like the L.A. Riots in 1992 and gay issues.
The TV landscape has changed since Hall ended his show with an episode for the ages. Who can forget how the credits rolled for the last time as the greatest rappers in the game including A Tribe Called Quest, MC Lyte, Naughty By Nature, Gangstar and Wu Tang Clan; bum rushed the stage and showed Arsenio love with the greatest hip-hop cipher ever?
“As much as I love acting and all those different things, I’ve never been as happy in my life as I was when I was grinding, doing the show day in and day out," Hall told usatoday.com
He has way more competition now from Letterman, Leno, Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Conan O’Brien, Chelsea Handler, Jon Stewart and the list goes on, but Hall’s show is iconic in the African-American community and unlike many other talk show hosts, he’s re-starting with a legion of fans who are already hip to his late-night gift of gab.
Hall reintroduced himself to today’s audience by appearing on Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice in 2012. “I’m always shocked at kids who come up to me in the mall. That’s amazing to me,” he says.
Hall’s return to TV should be smooth as generations will be watching him together, forming a bridge of familiarity between his late-night past and his future.