The Arsenio Hall Show

The Arsenio Hall Show

infobox television
show_name = The Arsenio Hall Show

caption =
format = Talk show
Variety show
runtime = 1 hour per episode
creator = Arsenio Hall
Marla Kell Brown
starring = Arsenio Hall
narrated = Burton Richardson
country = USA
network = First-run syndication
first_aired = January 3, 1989
last_aired = May 1994
num_episodes = 1,248
imdb_id = 0096537
tv_com_id = 1771

"The Arsenio Hall Show" was an Emmy Award winning talk show which aired on late night in syndication from 1989 to 1994. It starred comedian/actor Arsenio Hall.


Hall had been a host on "The Late Show", another talk show on the Fox Broadcasting Company, after the dismissal of Joan Rivers. Although he was popular in that job, his contract was not renewed, and he signed with Paramount Television to do this show before FOX finally decided they wanted to keep him.

Recurrent gags

One of the show's recurrent gags was affixing a humorous label to a specific section of the audience at stage left of the band, called the "dogpound." [ [ TV Acres article about the "Dogpound"] ] This section had arguably the least interesting view of Arsenio's interview space as it was largely obscured by the size of Michael Wolff's band set. The labeling was a staple of Arsenio's opening monologue and almost always began with the phrase "People who..." In one variation of the gag, Arsenio designated this section as "People who are currently in a Witness Protection Plan", at which point the camera turned to the section to reveal a digitally altered view of the section that made it impossible to see the audience members on the screen in this section.

Although not a "gag", Burton Richardson's long intro of the show's host (in which he would hold the "O" in "Arsenio" for as long as ten seconds right before Arsenio came out onto the stage, in which then he would finally announce "HALL!") became a major staple in the show, so much so that in the final episode, Richardson held it out for about fifteen seconds, one of the few times he was allowed or able to do so. This introduction for Arsenio Hall has yet to be emulated for future shows in which he has hosted.

A frequent gag in Arsenio's opening monologue suggested that he still lived in Cleveland, and drove himself to Los Angeles everyday to host the show, despite it being an impossibility to traverse the 2300 mile trip. While on these alleged long drives, Arsenio would ponder certain thoughts, referring to them as "things that make you go hmmmm..." This running gag inspired a hit song in 1990 by C+C Music Factory.


Hall's show was aimed at the younger urban audience, with Eddie Murphy (a personal friend of Hall's) and other performers often featured. The show quickly appealed to young people of all races and began to attract a wide variety of guests. It became the show for entertainers to go to in order to reach the "MTV Generation". The show was known for the audience's yelling, "Woof, woof, woof!" while pumping their fists in a circular motion. Hall got this chant from the Cleveland Browns. Good friends, Hall would often have MC Hammer perform and interviewed on the show.

Bill Clinton

Presidential candidate Bill Clinton was a guest on the show in June 1992, playing "Heartbreak Hotel" on the saxophone (causing Arsenio to quip, "It's nice to see a Democrat blow something besides the election"). The appearance is often considered an important moment in Clinton's political career, helping build his popularity among minority and young voters; Clinton went on to win the election in November 1992.

Controversial moments

Hall claimed that his decision to have the controversial Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan appear turned affiliates, advertisers and some viewers off the show, which ultimately led to its cancellation.

During a May 1991 taping, Arsenio lost his temper when three or four members of Queer Nation, apparently offended because Hall's producers refused to book Gus Van Sant to promote his gay-themed film "My Own Private Idaho", interrupted Hall's opening monologue to ask why he never had any gay guests on his show. Members of the group were seated in different parts of the audience. The heated exchange [ [ Footage of Arsenio's conflict with Queer Nation] ] went on for several minutes, and Hall lost his temper two or three additional times as the show progressed.

The show which included an appearance by Andrew "Dice" Clay was boycotted by Starr Parodi, the female member of the house band.

Arsenio introduced De La Soul as "the hippies of hip-hop". The group then performed "Me Myself and I" which explicitly states that they aren't hippies. The credits for the show also began to run over the performance before they were through, also contributing to the "diss". De La Soul recorded the song "Pass the Plugs" features the lyrics "Arsenio dissed us but the crowd kept clapping" in response to the incident.

The set

*It had a blue background, blue chairs and sofa and sleekly polished black floor.

*Stage 29 at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, where Hall's show was taped, was later occupied by Keenen Ivory Wayans' short-lived syndicated late night talk show (1997-98), and is now currently occupied by "The Dr. Phil Show". Stage 29 was originally part of the old RKO Gower Studios, prior to being absorbed by larger neighbor Paramount Pictures in 1967. At that time the stage number was 7. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz worked for the first time together on that stage in the 1940 film "Too Many Girls". Prior to Paramount acquiring the property, Ball and Arnaz purchased the studio and ran it as "Desilu Gower" from 1957 to 1967.

Awards and nominations

Emmy Awards
*1993: "Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Series", for episode "The 1000th show" — won
*1990: "Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety or Music Series or a Special" — won
*1990: "Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Series" — nominated
*1989: "Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Variety or Music Series or a Special" — nominated
*1989: "Outstanding Technical Direction/Camera/Video for a Series" — nominated
*1989: "Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Program" — nominated

NAACP Image Awards
*1995: "Outstanding Variety Series" — won
*1993: "Outstanding Variety Series/Special" — won

See also

*List of late night network TV programs


External links

* [ The Museum of Broadcast Communications]

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