With Arsenio Hall poised to return to the late-night arena on Sept. 9, TheWrap takes a look back at the best moments from his late ’80s-early ’90s run on “The Arsenio Hall Show.” Next week, we will find out if Hall can so adeptly capture the zeitgeist again. Woof, woof.
Bill Clinton Flaunts His Sax Appeal
In 1992, then-presidential hopeful Bill Clinton upped his cool quotient considerably by busting out his saxophone and blasting out a rousing rendition of “Heartbreak Hotel.” For better or for worse, politics would never be the same again.
Magic Johnson Talks About His HIV Status
Shortly after revealing that he had been diagnosed with HIV, NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson dropped in at “The Arsenio Hall Show” to talk frankly about his medical condition. An important educational moment, at a time when the disease was still shrouded in mystery for much of mainstream America.
Hall Gets a Visit From Michael Jackson
On a very special 1989 episode of “The Arsenio Hall Show,” Arsenio’s stage was graced with the presence of both Eddie Murphy and Michael Jackson, both arguably at the height of their popularity at the time. In his surprise drop-in, Jacko presented Murphy with an award for being “the greatest comedian of all time, the king.” Murphy went on to give Jackson his own award, for the music video “Thriller.”
Arsenio Hall Goes Off on Queer Nation
The normally even-keeled Hall lost his cool when a Queer Nation protester interrupted him to demand why Hall had not had gay guests on his show. Hall didn’t shy away from the confrontation, stepping into the audience to heatedly discuss the matter.
“To be honest with you, there are a lot of gay guests on this show, but it ain’t none of your damn business that they’re gay!” Hall asserted. “Why don’t you go over to the Johnny Carson show and ask him that question? It’s a stupid, stupid question!”
Arsenio and Howard Stern Trade Jabs
When radio phenomenon Howard Stern dropped in on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” he brought his trademark attitude with him, and Hall kept up with the King of All Media blow-for-blow.
“How does it feel to be part of a failing show?” Stern asked after taking the stage. “How long before you get the pink slip?”
Addressing the audience, Stern said, “I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know who Arsenio is.”
“It’s just another black man making more money than you,” Hall shot back.
Jason From “Friday the 13th” Gives Arsenio the Silent Treatment
While Hall’s interview with Stern was memorable for its lively back-and-forth, the late-night host’s sit-down with Jason, the hockey mask-wearing murderer from the “Friday the 13th” film series, was memorable for the subject’s tight-lipped refusal to answer questions.
As Hall attempted to grill Jason with inane questions (“Was it a woman? Did you get cut from the hockey team in high school?” Hall asked, while trying to get to the root of Jason’s anger), the movie villain sat in absolute silence, causing Hall to nervously crack up more than once.
Mariah Carey Makes Her Big-Time TV Debut
Back in early 1990, Mariah Carey was still just an up-and-coming music-industry hopeful with a mind-boggling vocal range. Hall did his part to launch Carey into stardom, giving the songbird her national television debut to perform her single “Vision of Love.”