Arsenio Hall on Netflix Movies, Stand-up, and Donald Trump
Arsenio Hall has done it all. Next week, he’ll be doing it in Bremerton.
Hall is most famous for his groundbreaking late-night talk show circa the 1990s, The Arsenio Hall Show. He’s also an accomplished stand-up comedian; a film actor, starring alongside Eddie Murphy in the 1988 comedy hit Coming to America, and a musician.
While Hall has taken time off over the years to focus on raising his son, he’s slowly coming back into the spotlight. He briefly resurrected his talk show from 2013-2014, and won Season 5 of The Celebrity Apprentice. This July, he became the host of the ABC TV show Greatest Hits, and next year, he’ll appear in Adam Sandler’s Netflix comedy Sandy Wexler.
On Sept. 30, Hall brings his stand-up act to Bremerton’s Admiral Theatre. We emailed Hall through his publicist, and asked him about everything from his upcoming film project with Sandler, to the 2016 presidential election, to his start in entertainment as a child magician.
Back in (Show) Business
Hall has stated in previous interviews that he took time off show business to focus on raising his son, who was born in 1999. While he’s had a handful of small roles over the past few years, the most high-profile projects he’s worked on are the short-lived resurrection of his talk show in 2012, and his appearance on season five of The Celebrity Apprentice. (He won).
Next year, Hall will appear in his first film role since 2009 in Sandy Wexler, which will appear exclusively on Netflix as part of Adam Sandler’s four-movie deal with the online streaming company. The film takes place in the ’90s and stars Sandler as an LA talent agent.
“The Wexler role came about because Sandler and I were texting, talking about stand-up, and joking around back and forth during the Cleveland/Warriors NBA finals,” Hall, who is from Cleveland, said in an email.
Sandler told Hall he was coming to LA to work on the Netflix film.
“It’s a period piece,” Sandler told him. “You should play ‘Arsenio Hall.'”
“Text me when you get here,” Hall told him.
The film may be the start of more projects to come. Now that his son is 17, Hall is taking on more projects, he said, including getting back into stand-up comedy, which he described as the “Love I Lost,” referencing the name of a song by 1970s R&B group Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes.
“One lies like a rug, the other lies while wearing one.” – Arsenio Hall on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
He’s also doing more stand-up shows, which he used to avoid. Hall used to be fearful of flying on airplanes, and kept his stand-up gigs local for that reason.
“All my vacations were to Palm Springs,” he said. “Places I could drive. I’ve come to grips with flying these days. As you get older, you realize you’re gonna die from something, so fuck it … I’m having these live stand-up experiences with the people who grew up watching me and the people who made me famous. I’m excited to visit Bremerton.”
Hall on Trump v. Clinton
Hall is in a unique place to evaluate the two major candidates for the 2016 presidential race, as he knows both republican nominee Donald Trump and democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Trump, of course, was the host of The Celebrity Apprentice, and Hillary’s husband made a famous appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1992 that’s credited with helping him attract young voters, helping him win the election against George H.W. Bush.
“I talk a lot about Trump in my act,” Hall said. “Hillary too. I know them both. I’m a republicrat. I don’t trust anybody in politics. Especially these two. One lies like a rug, the other lies while wearing one. My job is finding the humor in it all, not to persuade. And this election has tons of humor. Especially when you actually know the top two candidates. I looked at a five-bedroom home in Vancouver with Ruth Bader Ginsberg last month.”
While Bill Clinton’s appearance on Hall’s talk show was credited with helping him attract youth and minority voters, Hillary Clinton is struggling to attract young voters.
“I liked magic, but I LOVED laughter.” – Arsenio Hall on his childhood magic act
“Hillary has been doing more talk show appearances and comedy sketch shows than Alec Baldwin,” Hall said of her effort to attract young voters. (In fact, just today she appeared on Zach Galifianakis’ online “talk show,” Between Two Ferns). “She’s campaigning harder than twelfth grade homework. They don’t want the history books to write that Bill blew the sax on my show, and Hill blew the damn election. TWICE.”
Keeping the political questions going, Hall was asked what he thinks of the Black Lives Matter movement and the way law enforcement in the U.S. treat black people.
“Some nights, I take a knee before I start my act,” he said.
The Magic of Laughter
While Hall’s storied career has afforded him success in most areas of the entertainment industry – TV, movies, music – it may come as a surprise to learn that his first foray into the industry was as a child magician. In fact, the first few times he was on local and national TV, it was as a child magician, he said.
Hall was so taken with magic, he had lunch with famous illusionist Harry Blackstone, Jr., when he was 10. Most of his peers would have rather had lunch with former pro basketball player Austin Carr, he said.
“I know I wanted to entertain,” Hall said. “Whenever I got a laugh, talking to the audience as a magician, there was an extra special bit of magic in that sound. I liked magic, but I LOVED laughter.”
When he was 12, Hall was turned down by Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show as a magician. But Hall had the last laugh, and made an appearance related to his role in Coming to America.
“Johnny and I showed each other coin tricks during the commercial,” he said. “He was my idol for more professional reasons than one – he also began as a magician.”
Arsenio Hall performs 7:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Admiral Theatre, 515 Pacific Ave., Bremerton.
Tickets start at $25-78.
Photos Courtesy of Arsenio Hall