This was posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 by Rodney Ho on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Believe it or not, Arsenio Hall has never done stand-up comedy in Atlanta over his 30-plus year career - until this weekend.
He's doing four shows Friday and Saturday at Atlanta Comedy Theater in Norcross, with seating for about 275 people for each show. You can buy tickets for between $30 and $40 .
"Until now," Hall said in a recent phone interview, "Atlanta has always been a place for fun, not work."
Even early in his career when he was scrabbling, he knew the life of the itinerant stand-up comic was rough. Instead, he opened for music acts like Patti LaBelle, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin in the 1980s. In those cases, he got to perform in front of thousands of people instead of hundreds in hole-in-the-wall comedy clubs in small towns.
In the late 1980s, he landed a breakthrough role on "Coming to America" and soon had his ground-breaking talk show. He never looked back.
"This is my first time actually embracing travel," Hall said. "I hate airports. I hate travel. I love stand up. That's what it's all about."
And he's embracing the world of comedy clubs, however belatedly at age 60. "Jerry Seinfeld said how a comedy club smells are special. You can smell it on the microphone. It's part of the culture!"
Stand-up, Hall said, is "so hard to be really good. Even at this stage in my career, I have to practice. Last night, I popped into the Improv with Carol Leifer. It's like lifting weights. If you go a couple of days without it, it will hurt."
Sadly, he has not been able to convince his friend Eddie Murphy to do stand up again. "When I got back into it, I realized how much I missed it," he said. "Black folks don't do therapy. I use stand up instead. This is the only time I talk to people about my problems!"
Hall spoke to me the before of the inauguration of Donald Trump as president. "It's happening so we should come together, love him or hate him, and have a day of prayer. I'm a Republocrat. I don't like politicians. I don't like anybody who runs. Voting for either Hillary or Donald was to me like choosing my favorite Menendez brother."
He has decided to take this Trump presidency from the vantage point of a comic, figuring America is more resilient than many doomsayers believe. "We'll have great jokes for the next four years," he said.
Hall charmed Trump in 2012 and won that edition of "Celebrity Apprentice" over Clay Aiken, of all people.
"I'm the Jackie Robinson of 'Celebrity Apprentice,' " Hall cracked. "He chose me! It's surreal. The guy who named me 'Celebrity Apprentice' is the most powerful man in the world. Did I dream this? It's so weird! I mean, if the lady from 'Big Brother' Julie Chen became president, people would say, 'What are you smoking?' "
Even weirder, he said, is Trump's replacement: Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"I like him," Hall said. "He's a really nice guy - if you're not married to him. A few friends of mine are on the new show like Laila Ali. She's much tougher than I expected her to be. She is throwing so much shade."
He also likes Porsha Williams, the "Real Housewives of Atlanta" cast member on "Celebrity Apprentice." And he admits he is a big "Housewives" fan. He said he's impressed how Williams, once the wife of Pittsburgh Steeler Kordell Stewart, has blossomed since the divorce.
"She has really over-achieved," he said, noting her regular stint on the show "Dish Nation." "She didn't know how the Underground Railroad worked but now she's taking advantage of all the opportunities handed to her."
Amusingly, Porsha once told "Dish Nation" she was mistaken for Hall, who dressed up as a woman for a moment in "Coming to America.": You be the judge:
8:30 p.m., 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Saturday
Atlanta Comedy Theater
4650 Jimmy Carter Blvd. #114b, Norcross