Arsenio’s Next Act: A comedian with staying power

Silver Reef Casino Resort

4876 Haxton Way


Know this: If you heckle Arsenio Hall during his standup comedy show Thurs., July 11 at the Silver Reef Casino Resort, you will immediately regret your decision.

“Every now and then, someone takes their life into their own hands and attempts it,” the actor, producer and former late-night talk-show host says, noting that those who choose to interrupt a performer with 40 years of experience in the entertainment industry are typically under the influence or suffering from an abundance of ego.

There are exceptions, of course. He points to a recent standup set in Utah where a woman in the audience yelled out “excuse me” so many times he eventually made his way to her seat and gently inquired about what she had to say.

“She asked me, ‘Is it true there’s going to be a Coming to America 2?’” Hall says, laughing. “Her timing was wrong. I was going to talk about it later in the night.”

For the record, Hall will soon be reprising his role as Semmi, the sardonic sidekick to an African prince played by his good pal Eddie Murphy.

Second acts are nothing new for the Cleveland-born renaissance man. From 1989-98, he changed the face of late-night television via The Arsenio Hall Show—where the combination of cutting-edge comedy, political discourse and the television debut of future superstars such as Mariah Carey, Snoop Dogg, and Boyz II Men helped make him a household name. By the time the show returned to the small screen for the 2013-2014 season, he’d won Celebrity Apprentice and raised money for the Magic Johnson Foundation, guest hosted a number of daily talk shows, made cameos in various movies and spent quality time raising his son.

Off and on, Hall has also returned to one of his first loves—standup comedy.

In 1979, after graduating from Kent State University and making the move from Ohio to Chicago, jazz singer Nancy Wilson discovered Hall’s comedic talents. He spent the next few years honing his standup while opening for legends like Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, and Stevie Wonder before the world at large was introduced to him.

For the past five years, Hall has returned to his standup roots with occasional tours that take him around the country. This time around, however, things are a little different.

“When I went out on the road in those days, I was a young comic working for someone,” he says. “It’s different when people are coming to see you. I’m doing what I want to do, and the freedom is cathartic. I can be closer to who I really am. I’m the headliner, and it’s all on me.”

In addition to riffing on Coming to America 2, audiences can expect to hear Arsenio’s take on modern politics—he says asking who is favorite politician is akin to querying who his favorite Menendez brother is—and may find out his opinion on everything from diversity in contemporary television to the current state of the world.

“It’s always good when everyone gets offended,” Hall says. “Take off your shoes and get some relief, because you’re going to have a good time.”

WHAT: Arsenio Hall
WHEN: 8pm Thurs., July 11
WHERE: Silver Reef Casino Resort, 4876 Haxton Way
COST: Tickets are $30-$50

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