Ali Lerman (age 13): When I have a son I’m going to name him Semmi after Arsenio from Coming to America.
Ali Lerman (age 15): Asks for a VCR for Hanukkah so I can tape The Arsenio Hall Show because my parents make me turn off the TV at 11pm. (wtf)
Ali Lerman (age 25) I need to wait by the outside door after Arsenio’s show at the Irvine Improv in a non-stalker way to get a picture with him!!
Ali Lerman (age…yeah right): Arsenio is headlining the Irvine Improv Oct 26th & 27th and I get to do his press for it omg keep it cool, keep it cool…yeah right.
Ali Lerman (OC Weekly): When people meet you do they always have a story about you from sometime before? Because I have one (four) but I’ll spare you. (Please see intro.)
Arsenio Hall: You know what? I love that game of six degrees of separation. You know with Kevin Bacon? I’m more like turkey bacon though but yes, they always have these cool little stories and I love it! That’s kind of the roadmap to my past and my life. Everybody has stories and it’s cool because sometimes it’s like, I discovered Prince late one night while I was breastfeeding and you had him on for an hour and I couldn’t get up to change the channel. And then they’ll be like, this boy here, who is 25 now, this is who I was feeding! I think that kind of thing is a real blessing. In show business, you’re going to make money and have fans but, it’s those little nuances that make life special.
Be real though, do you ever get sick of people barking at you? I never get sick of it because that’s Cleveland! The thing I’ve noticed is, there are people that don’t realize why they’re barking. They bark because it’s me and they did that watching my show or something but, I’m from Cleveland, and I’m a huge Browns fan and the thing was to bark when the team came out! We had The Dawg Pound! People are like, Oh I didn’t even know that!
I’ll be honest. I thought it was for Tha Dogg Pound back in the day. [Laughs.] I put Snoop on TV for the first time and a lot of young people think the “dawg” thing started then! People have said to me, didn’t that dog thing start because Snoop came on your show? Oh no honey, we were barking long before that!
Since you’re a lover of all sports and sorry for getting violent here but, if you had a gun to your head, what sport could you do without? Ohhhh wow. One sport? I really really like basketball. That’s a real important one to me. My dream was to play baseball so it’s weird because you’d think my favorite would be baseball. I used to sit on the front porch with my grandma and listen to the radio and she taught me about baseball.
I feel like you just skirted the question. See? You can’t live without a sport. Not even curling? [Laughs.] Ok hold on, I’m going to answer that question! I just Donald Trump’d you and baited and switched it. So let me think…you know what? This is going to upset a lot of people in LA but you can take soccer and do whatever you want with it.
Right?? Use your hands! Yes! And by the way, I don’t think we should teach kids to do anything with their heads but think. But at the same time, I have to tell you this, one of the coolest days ever was when I got a call from Bill Clinton. He said, “Hey what are you doing tomorrow?” Well, absolutely nothing has to be the answer to that question! He said, “I’m going out to watch Brandi and all the girls play at the Rose Bowl against China, do you want to go?” I was like, “Is Hillary going?” He said, no. I said, absolutely I want to go! So I went with him to watch my first soccer game and I have to admit, it kind of enjoyed it! That was also the day Brandi ripped off her top to show her sports bra! And of course because you’re with Bill Clinton, you get escorted down. Listen, I do things celebrities do but nothing is more surreal than hanging with Bill Clinton!
I love that you’re the only one who can tell that story ever. Tell me another story about, say, Coming to America 2? It’s being written by Kenya Barris who is the creator of Black-ish and Girls Trip. He’s like on the fourth draft, it looks amazing, and it’s actually going to happen! I told Eddie if we wait any longer we’re not going to need prosthetic make-up to do the barbers!
Did you know on IMDb that your lovely female character in Coming to America is named, “extremely ugly girl?” [Laughs.] You know, sometimes you’re just sitting around in the trailer! I named the preacher character Reverend Brown because when I first met the director John Landis, he forgot my name. He called Eddie saying, “I just met a friend of yours and he’s hilarious! Arsenio Brown!” When it came to the lady we were like, what do we name her? John Landis said, “How about ‘extremely ugly woman?’” I said, “Hey! A lot of people think I look like my mother in that scene! Fuck you!” Also, when I met Sheryl Underwood from The Talk she told me everyone thinks she looks like my character in Coming to America! I hope she never reads the credits!
Welp the secret is out because Sheryl reads OC Weekly, weekly. Any spoilers you want to drop on me? Oh God I am soooo bad at secrets and I’m sitting here wanting to tell you one thing but if I do, I know they’ll kill me! And I love to talk! I’ll talk to a rock! The only thing I can tell you is, Eddie’s girlfriend is pregnant. Kid number 15!
Ummm…I think you lowballed there. OK so I know you’ll crush it in Irvine because I’m psychic but for the fans, what can you tell them? The one thing about me is, my set is never the same. I try not to work lazy. I saw a comic at The Comedy Store doing Jimmy Carter jokes. Nothing is fucking lazier than when you are still doing Jimmy jokes. I try to stay as present as I possibly can. I do a lot of current event stuff, my kid is in college, I talk about my relationship, and I really try to make sure that when you watch me, you aren’t saying, he feels dated. There’s nothing like live stand-up!
Grab your tickets to see Arsenio Hall at the Irvine Improv October 26th and 27th at www.Improv.com. (31 Fortune Drive Irvine, CA 92618, (949) 854-5455.) For everything Arsenio, go to ArsenioHall.com and follow him on Twitter @ArsenioHall.
Ali Lerman knows much about comedy, basketball, and celebrating Wu-Tang Wednesday. She’s been writing for sixteen years and still calls her mom with grammatical questions.