4 Ways For Arsenio to Improve the New Arsenio Hall Show

Published 2 years ago by

arsenio hall success 4 Ways For Arsenio to Improve the New Arsenio Hall Show

It has been almost two decades since Arsenio Hall walked away from late night television. In that time, Conan O’Brien has had three shows, Chevy Chase and Magic Johnson each had one, and we saw the rise of alternative talk shows like The Daily Show, which blend news and politics with comedy, as well as a slew of related cable offerings.

In short, late-night has changed while Arsenio has been away, but as The Arsenio Hall Show launches its second week on the air, many are wondering if Hall can adapt to the new landscape.

In his opening monologue during last week’s premiere, Hall never stopped reminding viewers about all the time that had passed, comparing 1994 to present day and, at one point, wheeling out a time capsule filled with ’90s paraphernalia and sight-gags – a bit that even Hall dismissed when he joked that he had come back as Carrot Top.

All of this (and a long list of other bits, guests, and callbacks) served as a trip down memory lane for fans that had become familiar with the comic and his style while in their 20s – or in my case, as an 11-year-old sneaking downstairs to stay up late and “woof-woof” along with the dog pound; however, nostalgia doesn’t last forever.

If Arsenio is going to find a way to also emulate the success that he found in the ’90s, standing out as an alternative to the Carson aesthetic (which is still alive and well), he’s going to have to shake things up a bit. Here are four ways that he can accomplish that:


Embrace the Future, Not the Past

arsenio hall success past 4 Ways For Arsenio to Improve the New Arsenio Hall Show

Hall turned his premiere week into a celebration of what he had done in the past and his decision to return. If it was an effort to energize his fans before launching this new chapter, it was brilliant. If it was a preview of what’s to come on a night-by-night basis… then Hall’s return may be less than triumphant.

Late night viewers are nesters: they find a show and live there until the show dies or something jars them out of that nest. The imprint that Arsenio put on viewers back in the day may lure some people back early on, but if he is going to keep them and earn new fans, he’s going to have to do what he did with his original show: put out a unique product that is fun and electric.

Arsenio needs to make this new show feel like a party again, but he needs to do it without showing slides of the party that everyone kinda remembers.


Know the Landscape

arsenio success jimmy kimmel 4 Ways For Arsenio to Improve the New Arsenio Hall Show

Putting out a unique product requires a certain understanding of the late-night landscape. Back in the ’90s, things were simpler because there weren’t many choices and Carson set the tone. It was easy for Arsenio to be unique and alternative. Carson was in his late ’60s and – while maybe not out of touch – he certainly did not seem interested in targeting a young audience; something that passively shutout a lot of guests and topics that found a home on Arsenio.

Currently, there is no Carson-like central figure to rebel against. Everyone (save for Jay Leno) is alternative in their own way. Late-night is a free-for-all and every type of guest and topic seems to have not just one home, but many. Part of that is due to Arsenio’s previous impact, but for him to succeed in this climate, he has to once again identify and impress an under-served audience – even a small one. With the viewing audience so fragmented these days, even niche shows can live a long life.


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Rely on Others

arsenio hall success sketch 4 Ways For Arsenio to Improve the New Arsenio Hall Show

Arsenio Hall is a solid comedian who can put out a sharp monologue (a skill that was intermittently on display during his first week back on the air), but he is not a gifted sketch comic. There is no shame in that, but nestled in between the monologue and the time capsule bit during the debut episode was a collection of unremarkable sketches that were unleashed on the audience in jarring succession. This was Hall’s attempt to showcase his ability to relate to the here and now – and it mostly failed.

This trend has continued on the show, with occasional hits but far too many misses. If Arsenio wants to reach the YouTube generation, he has to think outside-of-the-box, perhaps going so far as to hire a sketch group to work in-house and create bite-sized clips that can have a second-life as viral videos. Conan found (pre-viral) success when he brought in the Upright Citizens Brigade for Late Night, and doing something along those lines could be a win for Arsenio as well.


Stick with Your Strengths 

arsenio hall success angela bassett 4 Ways For Arsenio to Improve the New Arsenio Hall Show

Arsenio Hall was the Ed Sullivan of hip-hop and a curator of cool, championing several unheralded acts in music and comedy back in the day. There’s certainly an opening if he wants to be that again, but his interview skills are his biggest strength. Hall was never afraid to park the politeness and ask tough questions.

Hall got Tupac to talk about drugs and being “too hard”, he talked about the HIV virus with Magic Johnson just after he revealed his diagnosis and left basketball; he probed Vanilla Ice – at the time one of the largest stars in music – about rap music and race.

People remember Arsenio Hall for Bill Clinton’s saxophone solo, but in truth, his frank and real conversations are a more important part of his legacy. Hall shined a magnifying glass on celebrities and musicians in a way that was a refreshing contrast to the choreographed and empty interviews that were and still are commonplace in late night.

With Hall, it wasn’t abundantly clear that people were on his show as a part of a promotional tour. There was no free press, you had to give him and his audience something of yourself, but it wasn’t done in a seamy way that was aimed at feeding the tabloids. Arsenio was interested and so were we.

The sad thing is, that may be something that Arsenio can’t go back to. Dissecting celebrities has become a sport. There is no privacy anymore, and everyone is exceptionally careful about their “brand”. Hall understands this, and told TV Guide, ”

“We’re in this world now where publicists control this so much, I don’t know if I can have conversations like that.”

After watching Arsenio’s interviews last week with Chris Tucker, Ice Cube, Magic Johnson, and many others with whom he has a personal connection, it’s hard to tell if he’s resigned himself to that disappointing reality or if he’s just taking it easy on his friends. In his second week – though faults were acknowledged – Arsenio hasn’t done much to make the changes needed to trump his competition.

Regardless, Arsenio is going to eventually run out of buddies and fall out of his comfort zone. At that point, will he rise to the occasion and work to combat the notion that true on-air intimacy between a talk show host and a guest can’t exist anymore, or will he simply play it safe?

That’s just one of many questions that are facing Arsenio Hall as he tries to walk the line between being fresh and being familiar while trying to also find success in a strange new land that he helped create.


The Arsenio Hall Show airs weeknights. Check local listings.

Source: TV Guide

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  1. it was nice to see him back on tv…his show this week was all nostalgic which is cool but he needs to bring somethjng different….personally hes a breath of air compared to stale acts like Leno and Letterman…i think Fallon has already filled Arsenios target audience lucky for Hall that his show is on earlier

  2. Who is this guy?? I recall he was one of those clowns on another clown’s show, “You’re Fired.”

    I’ll stick with Jimmy Fallon. It was a treat for Screen Rant to feature a clip from his show yesterday (Batfleck).

  3. Who is this guy?? I recall he was one of those clowns on another clown’s show, “You’re Fired.”

    If you’re too young to remember The Arsenio Hall Show, then you are young enough to answer your own question via the interwebs.

    Short answer: He’s an actor and comedian who had a very popular 90s talk show.

    Long Answer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arsenio_Hall

    • I know how google works, thanks.

      Saw a clip of this guy on TV last night. Not worth the trouble to look into.

      I’ll stick with Fallon, Kimmell, Letterman , Conan and Chelsea Handler.

      Not Leno. VERY HAPPY NBC is throwing him under the bus.

      • If you had seen his stuff from back in the day, you may have been more inclined to give it a watch. From what I’ve read on here and heard from my sister though, I don’t blame you one bit for not wanting to watch. And I completely agree about Leno. He should have been off the air a while ago.

        • + 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

        • I remember Arsenio from back in the day, and I didn’t care for him much at all. I attempted to watch one of his recent episodes but changed the channel after about 5 minutes. You may not like Leno, but I believe he still has the highest consistent ratings out of all of them. Personally, I wish Letterman would go. I used to watch him religiously back in high school/college, but he’s gotten way too policital in recent years, and let’s just say I don’t agree with whom he seems predisposed to support.

      • “This guy” is better than Fallon ever was or will be. Respect your elders, kid.

    • I know of him but only because my younger brother (he’s 21 years old) is a Martin Lawrence fan and somehow ended up watching Arsenio’s shows too.

      We here in the UK have never heard of Hall and no amount of chastising someone who may or may not be American as you did with Kryptonic will change that.

      • Are you implying that no one in the UK heard of him? If so, then you are wrong. While I am sure that he isnt a household name, I am sure that some British citizens know Hall. He was in Coming to America in the 80s, one of the funniest comedies ever. Also, he was recently on Celebrity Apprentice, which was shown on a UK channel.

        • As an American, I humbly apologize to you for the horrific show, “The Apprentice.”

          No civilized nation on Earth should endure the idiocy of that heretic, donald trump.

          • I’m an American too. I don’t hate Trump.

            If you’re actually an American and you’re over 25, you should know who Arsenio Hall is. He was pretty popular in the mid 90s as a late night host. Plus, he was in Coming to America, which is a popular movie here years after it was released in the 80′s.

  4. It just seems so sloppy like he has no control, every episode i watched the guest just kept talking and it looke like Hall wanted to get some words in but couldn’t.

  5. What the What???
    Not only did I not know Hall was coming back I didn’t know he’s already been on a week.
    I was a fan of his show in the 90′s but in all honesty my chances of watch are zero.
    Between Conan, The Daily Show, Colbert, Kimmel and Chelsea Lately I already struggle to keep up.
    I wish him luck though…

    • In the words of Ralph Garman “Chelsea Handler is a talentless c**t”

  6. I didn’t even realize he had a talk show again until my sister texted me today about how bad it was. She said he would pause for applause, but there would be an awkward moment where the audience didn’t realize they were supposed to clap. I don’t know how true that is, since I haven’t watched, but seeing this article makes me think it’s pretty close. It’s a shame too, because he can be a really funny guy and a good host. Hopefully he turns it around.

  7. I`m glad Arsenio is back, hopefully he makes his show unique cause late night shows are everywhere now

  8. Personally, I am glad to see Arsenio back on the air. I agree there are changes that can be made, but unless you were a fan back in the day, you don’t know what you missed! If you’re a TRUE Arsenio fan, you’ll remember…

    1. That the party kept going with Nia Peeples and her “Party Machine”!!!
    2. Chunky A. (Your love…makes me say OWWW!!!), and if you’re a TRUE fan, you still have all your old Chunky A. records, and in my case, cassette tapes

    You may also remember these moments…

    1. Ray Charles performing his version of the classic “Route 66″.
    2. Arsenio dancing the lambada with Kaoma.
    3. Magic Johnson revelaing that he had HIV, and the subsequent PSA Arsenio and he did.
    4. Arsenio introducing Spinal Tap as “The loudest band in the world”, followed by a performance that proved to us why…
    5. Every so often, Starr Parodi would play a keyboard solo
    6. Every so often, John B. Williams had a deep “Poetry Moment”, which was awesome, by the way…
    7. He had on The Red Hot Chili Peppers doing their version of Stevie’s “Higher Ground”…
    8. He devoted entire shows to people like Whitney Houston & Stevie Wonder and also, James Brown (Five times for Ah-Seen-Ya!!!…Best interview ever!)
    9. He also interviewed all the greatest wrestling stars like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Bobby Heenan, Ted DiBiase, Ultimate Warrior, and more…
    10. He sang with The Temptations.
    11. He had Patti LaBelle on, performing a song with Luther Vandross and a song with Michael McDonald.
    12. He would often have surprise guests, like bringing out The Chi-Lites unannounced…or having Michael Jackson come out to present Eddie Murphy with an award…
    13. He put guys like Chuck Norris and Richard Dean Anderson on when other shows didn’t…
    14. He had the Dogg Pound!!! (I miss the Dogg Pound!!!)
    15. A lot of big-time and up-and-coming rap talent like Vanilla Ice, Snoop Dogg, 2 Pac, Heavy D., NWA, Eazy-E and Ice Cube, etc. appeared on his show…A lot of R&B and jazz guys (Miles Davis, anyone?), too!!!
    16. Mariah Carey got her first big break (national TV exposure) on his show.
    17. There was an “All-Star Hip Hop” Jam with MC Lyte, Wu-Tang Clan, Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One, and many more legends of rap…
    18. Even Jerry Lee Lewis was interviewed on his show…
    19. One night, Bobcat Goldthwait trashed his set…
    And who can forget the greatest moment…Watching Bill Clinton play his impromptu version of “Heartbreak Hotel” with the original Posse!!!

    That’s only a sampling of what the man did, and yes, every one of those things happened!!!

    That’s why I’m rooting for him all the way to not just “get the party started”, but to keep it going!!! I know what he can do, and if he can get back to what made him great in the first place, I believe he’ll have a winner on his hands…Hey, I didn’t like Jimmy Fallon either, at first. I wasn’t a “Lick it for $10″ fan, but he’s grown leaps and bounds…and his Neil Young is spot-on, so give Arsenio a chance, people…Remember, he’s been out of the chair for 19 years!!! Heck, I’d be rusty, too…He’ll work and he’ll earn his comeback…Remember, if he didn’t have fans who wanted to see him back, do you think he’d even BE back at all? I don’t know about you guys, but I’m ready to party…and this coming from a white guy, too!!!

    • Nice to see some loyalty shown for Mr. Hall.

  9. What can he do to get better?

    Better skits would be one, but also…

    1. Maybe reunite the ORIGINAL POSSE just once.
    2. Get a Dogg Pound put in.
    3. Do more musical numbers in the middle or beginning of the show…He would do that on his old show.
    4. Showcase new and up-and-coming talent like he did with Mariah.
    5. Do those deep interviews like he did back in the day.
    6. Have more unexpected surprise guests.
    7. Have more superstar collaborations between artists.
    8. Have more guests SIT IN with the band…I remember when he had the jazz guys like Dave Koz and friends sit in, and people like Bill Cosby & B.B. King…
    9. Showcase people who usually don’t do many interviews.
    10. Like was mentioned, maybe have a comedy troupe help him with the skits…

    These things might help the show, and get the party off the start it needs to be…Sure, after 19 years, Arsenio may be a bit more subdued, but if he’s having fun (and who says you can’t have fun as you get older…), then it’s still a party!!! And when he’s having fun, the audience can FEEL it!!!

  10. I watch Arsenio Hall show every night and I really enjoy your show. I have 2 suggestions I would also like to see. The first one is a reunion of the cast of Breakin 1 and Breakin 2 and dont forget Van dam who was an extra in the movie. The 2nd suggestion is a reunion of the Soul Train and Solid Gold Dancers. I think everyone would enjoy those shows as well. Good Luck and continued success Mr.Hall. I am one of your biggest fans of your 80′s show and of your current shows. Hope you can use these suggestions. Either way I will continue to watch your show and wish you the absoute best and hope your ratings go through the roof.

    Thank You for the great entertainment……

  11. Congratulations to Arsenio, but honestly he need to upgrade his wardrobe to more modern tailored custom suits. And I can provide that if he contact me at 214) 498-4470.
    Am Habib The Haberdasher

  12. Arsenio just can’t relate with the new generation, the social media age, neither could jay leno and we see what happened with J. Arsenio would have to completely gut this show and start over to compete. No one wants to see stars that were big 30 years ago. It`s not all his fault there are far to many talk shows and little to no real talent out there to interview. Arsenio had a great show but you can’t recreate the past. good try Arsenio. We did love seeing you again my man.