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Issue Date: October 2008

Video Fame

Arsenio Hall loves his television and computer ... probably a little too much.

This month, the Cleveland native and former late-night host makes his return to TV with a new show that seeks to capitalize on our YouTube-obsessed nation.

Lynne Thompson
A lot has changed in the 14 years since The Arsenio Hall Show went off the air. For one, the comedian, actor and producer behind it is now a single father whose world revolves around 8-year-old Arsenio Jr.

But Arsenio Hall still sounds like a late-night talk-show host. Apologize for the flat tire that delayed your interview with him, and he sympathizes with a routine about the first car he ever had.

“It was a Cutlass, it was green — nothing green should run anyway,” quips the 53-year-old native Clevelander.

This month, Hall returns to television with World’s Funniest Moments, an hourlong showcase of Internet video clips that debuts Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. on WUAB My 43. We talked to Hall about his return to TV, being a minister’s son and what he looks forward to doing most on his next trip home.

How did you end up hosting World’s Funniest Moments?
“[MyNetworkTV] called me about the concept. They had been told that I was an Internet fanatic, a computer nut. And I am. I live on that thing. As a matter of fact, I watch TV and the computer at the same time, which I think is the future.

Do you have a favorite Internet video clip?

I think the most classic two I’ve ever gotten [in my e-mail] is Carl Lewis singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and Rod Stewart’s daughter falling off a motorcycle.

You’ve done standup and television, and you do a radio show with Tim Conway Jr. in Los Angeles. Which medium do you prefer?

I’ve had three relationships end because of television. I love my television!

How has fatherhood changed your life?
That takes most of my time because I choose to do it right. I always thought that I couldn’t have kids. I took a second test at one point because I didn’t want to accept the answer and found out that the previous doctor, maybe 10 years prior to that, had been wrong.

I always thought I’d be a great father. And I always thought if my dad was alive, he would agree with me. The man he made me, I want to take that to another level. Show business has to be second to fatherhood. I find things that fit into being a father. If it don’t fit, I can’t do it.

Your own father was a Baptist minister. How did that affect your development, comedic and otherwise?
My brother spent all his life in prison — he was from my father’s first marriage, so he was older than me. I loved my dad so much that I never wanted to disappoint him. I never wanted to be like my brother, not able to come home because they’re afraid you’re going to steal something.

The way I was as a kid contributed to what happened my freshman year at college — I graduated from Kent State University, but I spent the first two years at Ohio University.

I remember, as plain as day, looking out the dorm window of Brown Hall as my mother drove away in a white Pontiac LeMans and thinking,I’m gonna get busy! I got a single room, and in a week, the preacher’s kid had three girlfriends and was smoking herb.

What do you like to do when you come back home?
I’m a basketball fanatic — I would walk to Cleveland to watch LeBron play.

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