If someone were to come up to you on the street and asked you this question.......Who is Arsenio Hall?
At one time this man had one of the hippest and brightest talk show in the history of late night television and also to make a point here that he was the ONLY African-American entertainer to accomplished such a feat during a period between the 1980's and 1990's when Johnny Carson was the undisputed ruler of the "late night talk-show circuit",and to put in this same category David Lettermen and also Ted Koppel,who had a news magazine show during the late-night hour.
Say what you want about Arsenio Hall,since his show was a not to be missed and for one "The Arsenio Hall Show"(Syndicated:1989-1994)was the coolest show ever made,and righteously so. I remember watching Arsenio Hall when it first premiered in 1989 and from the first episode it really took off since at the time "The Arsenio Hall Show" debuted after "The Joan Rivers Show",and "Late Night Starring Chevy Chase" were dismal failures. For the six years that it ran in syndication,Arsenio Hall was riding the wave of popularity and the explosion of "hip-hop" culture and "trends" was about to follow. He did however struck a chord with the youth of America since Arsenio show was just about as good as it got and then some. However,a large percentage that were watching the show were younger people since for the first two seasons(between the years 1989 and 1991),"The Arsenio Hall Show" was the hottest show on the planet and within its first season(1989-1990)it dethroned Johnny Carson off the top spot of the late night supermacy. It was during the first two seasons the show was akin to that of the first years of Saturday Night Live. People stopped everything to what they were doing and watch--there were parties centered around the show and there was excitement in the air as well since the next day people would gather around the water cooler to discuss about last night's show and to eventually think about what Arsenio will do next or for matter something in between. A prime example of one episode I do recall was when Arsenio had a special guest or mystery guest to surprise the crowd and then something else would come in and really get the crowd jumping! It was between the years of 1989 and 1991 that were the best Arsenio Hall had since he was the Number One late night talk show in America. Then the unexpected happen. Let's face it,Arsenio Hall did what Johnny Carson,David Lettermen,Jay Leno,and even Conan O'Brien couldn't do...bring a hip audience with hip appeal to the youth of America! And secondly,history was being made too since Arsenio Hall became the ONLY black entertainer to successfully host his own weekly late-night talk show,and his own program which was something other African-Americans did as well like Keenan Ivory-Wayans,Flip Wilson or to an lesser extent Nat King Cole!
The show took chances that NO ONE else dared to do but Arsenio Hall! Several moments were excellent here including a daring saxophone player who was the governor of Arkansas who went on to become the President Of The United States(William Jefferson Clinton). Bill Clinton won the presidency in 1992 because he dethroned Bush and kept it real and keeping in touch with the youth of America thanks to Arsenio Hall!!! The other? When The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,Leader Of The Nation Of Islam came on Arsenio's show when no one else dared to get him for an interview and eventually appeared on national television!! The same can be said for Reverend Jesse Jackson and also for Reverend and activist Al Sharpton. The show was a launching pad for up and coming comedians as well including George Wallace and Bernie Mac not to mention Chris Rock and others that became famous thanks to Arsenio Hall! Not to mention on the same category aspiring actors and actresses who would go on to much bigger and better thanks to Arsenio Hall! There were some funny moments as well too.
As far as music was concerned,it was so much that "The Arsenio Hall Show" did for entertainers on a URBAN scale and it featured some of the best R&B acts and not to mention "hip-hop" acts of all time! He also had other acts as well that consisted of many musical fields including several bands that made their appearances of his show when the "grunge" era of rock music was about to explode upon the youth of America. Many of these performers were on Arsenio Hall's show when NO ONE else like The Tonight Show,David Lettermen or Conan O'Brien wouldn't let them in the door! Nor for that manner wouldn't have them!
During the years 1991 to 1994,the show suffered a decline and in the ratings as well since the pop culture was changing at a rapid pace leaving Arsenio Hall behind. America quickly lost interest in the program and other shows of the time were making jokes about Arsenio which to this day he doesn't like. The show was also a political hotbed for topics and issues which killed the show's good ratings. The ratings really started to slip during the O.J. Simpson trial and not to mention the wake of the riots that engulf Los Angeles,California during the show's 1992-1993 season. During that time Arsenio turned his show into a "Phil Donahue" type forum on inner city problems,and I do recalled that one episode of his show during an discussing of this got really ugly and it was during a taping with a live audience. This is when the show got worst and from their his audience was deserting him. Because of this,the show was pushed back into a later time slot and from there the final episode of "The Arsenio Hall Show" came to an end in May of 1994,after an astounding six year run in syndication.
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