Arsenio Hall: Back is Beautiful

by Gail Choice
Special to the NNPA from Our Weekly

Chris Tucker and Arsenio Hall on the premiere of "Arsenio."
Chris Tucker and Arsenio Hall on the premiere of “Arsenio”

By the time you read this article Arsenio Hall will be hosting his fourth episode on the Arsenio Hall show. This article reflects my impression of Arsenio’s premiere show on Monday, Sept. 9 at 11 p.m. on KTLA-TV Channel 5.

I couldn’t believe how excited I was to see Arsenio “back in the saddle” so to speak. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. According to The Hollywood Reporter, (THR) Arsenio Hall beat out all the competition in the ratings war.

THR reports syndication in 95 percent of the country was enough for Arsenio Hall to top late night during his Monday return.

The host launched his self-titled show from Tribune Broadcasting with wins in both the adults 18-49 and 25-54 demographics, besting Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Late Night With David Letterman and The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

The studio audience was highly energized, and when the cameras panned his audience, you could clearly see a different kind of grouping; one with different expectations from this particular late night talk show host. It was a very urban crowd of all nationalities, and they were excited and ready to be entertained by folks that they were more familiar with and ready to see on a regular basis. It was kind of like, ‘we back ya’ll.”

The smile didn’t leave my face either, especially when Arsenio said, “I’m back and back is beautiful.”

Indeed it is. It is a new day for late night television. ‘Cool’ is back; we no longer have to apologize or explain our “Blackness” on the Arsenio Hall show; it’s openly celebrated.

First night jitters are common, and although Arsenio is comfortable in front of an audience, his appearance on national television after a 19-year absence had to be nerve racking. I sensed that he was just a little intimidated knowing so much is at stake, and he needed to simply pick up where he left off 19 years ago. And to a certain degree he did. He brought Black back to TV.

Now I know many will say his celebrity guests will have appeared on other late-night shows, but there is a difference—it’s a sense of “homecoming.” You know how you light up when you enter an atmosphere of your folks who ‘get you,’ I mean really get you. On Arsenio’s show, they can come out dancing, and they did and Arsenio danced with them. There was an ease in the conversation; it was also edgy, full of speaking with the eyes, and a brand of humor that comes from pain, frustration and determination.

His premiere guests, Snoop Lion who performed, comedian Chris Tucker and surprise walk-on celeb Paula Abdul started the night off right. Ironically, this was the first time I ever saw Snoop perform live (see what I mean?). Snoop was cool, and likable. And I was happy as all get out to see Chris Tucker. He’s still silly, and I can’t say who was more excited, he or Arsenio.

I felt a different kind of emotion or rush as I watched these three men laugh and talk basically about nothing, but it was the camaraderie, and the beauty of who they were that excited me.

Paula Abdul and Arsenio Hall on the premiere of "Arsenio"
Paula Abdul and Arsenio Hall on the premiere of “Arsenio”

When Paula Abdul walked out following a poorly written joke about her backside, I thought it was a sweet moment. Hall and Abdul used to date back in the day, and it was nice to see her looking as beautiful and vibrant as ever.

See, that’s what I’m talking about, Arsenio is bringing back the ‘spice’ to late night talk. Now if he’d only replace his band, and some of his writers. I’m just saying!

One thing that’s truly new about Arsenio’s show is that the public can be as active with him as they wish. Just visit his website at www.arseniohall.com/ and join the party.

Welcome back Arsenio. Back is beautiful. The Arsenio Hall Show airs weeknights at 11 p.m.

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