Nearly 20 years after saying goodbye, Arsenio Hall is back with the Arsenio Hall Show. Only being on-air less than 30 days, the 57-year-old has snagged by names like Magic Johnson, Dr. Phil and Snoop Lion. And over the weekend, he switched places on the couch, appearing on Oprah Winfrey’s ‘Next Chapter‘. Filmed at ‘The Comedy Store’, the Cleveland-bred comedian opened up about his why he actually left the show; what Michael Jackson said to convince him to return; why Oprah politely checked him and canceled her scheduled appearance; what makes him cry and more. Check out our few favorite moments.
It took him five years to land his show. Both Diddy and Michael Jackson inspired him to return.
I was a lil nervous because it took so long to get in the moment…I went everywhere with this…It could’ve been about5 years…Diddy said, ‘You got to come back…’ Michael was there we partied…Michael was like ‘He should’ve never left….’ I know he’s watching. When it wasn’t supposed to happen, it didn’t happen.
One of the reasons he left the show was because he couldn’t please anyone:
You leave it and say goodnight…it’s all consuming. I was sending people to check on my mom…I’m like, your’e making money and your’e not able to enjoy it….There is a point when you say, ‘I can’t please anybody’….Spike Lee’s saying I’m an Uncle Tom and white people are saying I’m ‘too black’…Who am I doing this for? You say, I’m just tired of not being able to please anyone….
His Louis Farrakhan interview wasn’t the reason for his departure.
When the Farrakhan interview happened, my resignation had flown long before. Usually when you resign, they let you go that day…They want you gone. I had such a great relationship with them…That they said, ‘Okay, stay a few months…and we’re gonna figure this out.’
He considers Jay Leno like a big brother.
Jay is like a big brother to me…I was in Chicago, doing comedy on River Road…Jay came to the club and said, ‘Why are you here?’ Jay is my friend…Dave comes off as really gruff….for him to honor me…it was very special. I think in the early years, we were a little desperate.
He and Oprah had a light-weight falling out after he made jokes about Stedman. Oprah personally called him on the phone to politely set him straight.
I did something when you brought the meat out of the wagon…Best and worse day of my life….First of all, I’m like Oprah can get any number she wants….You schooled me in a very classy way. I knew you were serious…but you didn’t scream. You said, by the way, I’m canceling your show. And I will come one day–just not now.
Initially, he wanted Magic Johnson (whom he is close friends with) to make his HIV/AIDS announcement on Larry King. Not his show.
Magic said, we gotta do it there…I suggested, why don’t we do Larry King or something…I remember that morning…He wasn’t going to say AIDS or HIV positive. I knew something was wrong…I called Magic, I said ‘What’s up man?’ He says, ‘I need to come on your show ‘cuz it’s leaking quick….’ When we were kids, remember where you were when King or Kennedy? Everybody knows where they were.
He believes that his son needs to actually see him work hard, physically, as a father.
There were some things he wasn’t seeing…He needs to see me tired….So I’m back at that schedule. He needs to see that too. I wanted to be there because I was a latch-key kid….She worked a lot…she got me to where I am. I respect womanhood and motherhood so much more. I was stubborned and determined to do this…
Speaking about his son makes him emotional.
We had the talk before ‘Apprentice’. He used a word that changed my whole approach to apprentice. He said, ‘Dad we can win this’…It almost…you know? Just one minute…Just two seconds….When I talk about my son, sometimes….He’s such a good kid. I’m so blessed. He’s healthy and he’s a good kid.
How he gave up over-the-top partying when he began his show.
I went crazy…for a minute, I went crazy…By the time the show hit, I don’t slap the blessing. I don’t mess around when it comes to work…I took it really seriously. I remember a night, me and Eddie had a break on a night shoot….We left in limos and brought the club back to Paramount….We were wild….By the time I got the talk show….to do a talk show, you hafta take it serious. You can’t have a hangover.
He’s not sure why he’s the only African American to make it thus far in late night.
Wow. I don’t know. And you know where Imma go with it….I think I was put her to do this and either God gives you that or he doesn’t…Mine is fatherhood and late night…’cuz that’s what I’m good at.