The son of a Baptist minister, Arsenio Hall was a magician as a
child. Arsenio attended Ohio University in Athens, OH where he
was on the speech team with future actress Nancy Cartwright and
future news anchor Leon Harris. He then transferred to Kent
State University. Arsenio later moved to Los Angeles to pursue a
career in stand-up comedy. During this time, he became good
friends with Eddie Murphy. In 1988, he costarred in the comedy
film Coming to America with Murphy.
Unknown to many, Arsenio Hall was the voice of Winston Zeddemore in the cartoon, The Real Ghostbusters from 1986-1987.
On January 2, 1989, Arsenio began hosting The Arsenio Hall Show, which lasted until May 27, 1994. His show was known for the audience's shouting "Whoop Whoop Whoop" while pumping their fists. Hall had invented this chant for his high school's football team. He also had a rivalry with Jay Leno after the latter was named host of The Tonight Show, during which Arsenio Hall said that he would "kick Jay's ass" in the ratings game. The two have since patched up their differences and Hall has made numerous appearances on The Tonight Show. He was also noted for having his hair cut into a Hi-top fade during this period.
Also in 1989, Arsenio Hall released an album on MCA, Large and In Charge, under the moniker of "Chunky A". Chunky A was supposed to be Arsenio's overweight "little brother". The album had one minor hit "Owww!" and featured guest rappers Ice-T and KRS-1 and guest musicians Cameo.
The title of the C&C Music Factory dance single "Things That Make You Go Hmmmm..." was inspired by Arsenio's monologue routines. He was also the target of many jokes by Keenen Ivory Wayans, who portrayed him on his sketch comedy show In Living Color.
After The Arsenio Hall Show ended, Arsenio made only infrequent appearances on television (including a short-lived 1997 sitcom called Arsenio) before starring in Martial Law with Sammo Hung from 1999–2000 and hosting the revival of Star Search in 2003.
Arsenio Hall made a cameo appearance as himself in Chappelle's Show in March 2004, when Dave is imagining "what Arsenio is doing right now" in a dinner scene. It shows Arsenio at a wine party eating some cheese and saying, "Damn! That's some good-ass cheese!" After which, Arsenio Hall starts punching and slapping people for not telling him about the apparently delicious cheese.
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