Interview: Arsenio Hall Talks His Return to Late Night, His First Show, and Pop Culture Coincidences

Interview: Arsenio Hall Talks His Return to Late Night, His First Show, and Pop Culture Coincidences

After nearly two decades away from the couch, Arsenio Hall is returning to late night with a new incarnation of The Arsenio Hall Show. Tonight, at 11 p.m. on CBS, Hall will sit down with Chris Tucker. (Friday came out in 1995, one year after Arsenio ended his 1989-1994 reign of late night, so this has been a long time coming.) Hall will be in your crib five nights a week, and the rest of this week's guests include Ice Cube, Lisa Kudrow, Mac Miller, Magic Johnson, Angela Bassett, and more.

Complex connected with the legend to talk about his past, present, and future. 

On talk shows:

"The new show will be dictated by this new world of pop culture. I’m just a guy who holds a mirror up to society, and I do it in my own way. I think that’s the only thing that separates talk shows, the personalities of each show. It’s like a dating choice, who you want to sleep with. You put on a condom and you choose a show. The bottom line is, it’s about these really different personalities."

On his first show:

"On my first show I had Brooke Shields and a legendary balladeer—maybe you know him—named Luther Vandross. Bad motherfucker. There’s no greater singer. A lot of people said, 'Brooke Shields? Why, of all the people, on your first night—Brooke Shields? For me, it’s not about Brooke. It’s not about how big a guest she is. ‘Cause you could have a huge guest—you could put Tom Cruise on—and it might not be good. For the first night, I remember watching news and seeing that Michael Jackson was going places with Brooke Shields. Actually kind of dating. Then they started taking Emmanuel Lewis, from Webster, with them. He’s sitting on Brooke’s lap at the Grammys, like this bizarre family. Long story short, I realized that if I can't get King of Pop for the first night, then, well, who is he going out with? Brooke was on that Jonas thing, then. You know, 'I’m a virgin and I going to wait.' So I knew what I was going to do. I’m like, 'So I heard you were a virgin—how’s that going?' I got a reputation for it. At that time, Johnny Carson wasn’t going to ask Brooke Shields how her virginity was going."

On his long pop culture history:

"Nick Cannon told me a cool story. He told me about how he wanted to be a talk show host when he was a kid, and so his dad told him to watch Arsenio. 'I’ll let you stay up some nights,' he said. 'You’ll watch him and take notes.' Then there was a day when Nick got in trouble at school. His punishment was no Aresenio for a week. And that night was the night I put Mariah on to do 'Vision of Love.' He was on punishment the night his future wife made her debut."

Stay Connected with
Complex Pop Culture
Tags: arsenio-hall, arsenio-hall-show
blog comments powered by Disqus