I was just a kid at the time, but today I can recall clearly and fondly the first episode of the Arsenio Hall Show. My brother and I stayed up late to watch the program. For some reason we not only knew about the show, but anticipated it with excitement. Being as young as I was, and a suburban white kid, I can’t recall when or where I learned about Arsenio Hall and his late-night show.
But that first episode, with Brooke Shields and Luther Vandross, for some reason remains vivid among my early television viewing memories.
I watched a lot of Arsenio Hall, thereafter. I watched people I thought of as heroes or performers I admired (far beyond my ability to grasp the work, but loving it anyway). I remember Eddie Murphy performing, Bo Jackson’s interview, controversy around gay and lesbian guests, and most famously, Bill Clinton playing his saxophone.
Watching Michael Jackson make a surprise visit to honor Eddie Murphy as the greatest comedian of all-time was both an incredible moment to capture, but also a bit like spying on a culture that really was beyond my understanding.
Anyway. Next week, Arsenio Hall returns to the late night talk-show world. I look forward to it.