|picture source: parade.condenast.com|
The show ran for 5 years and placed Arsenio's crown rightfully among late-night royalty. Known for his signature stance that resembled the 'A' in his first name before he made his entrance, a band that kept it funkier then 12 buckets of chit'lins on a hot summer day, the "woof-woof" barking style of applause from the 'Dog Pound' audience members, and breaking new artists as well as granting artists a chance to perform their songs; Arsenio had the magic recipe for success and absolutely dominated the late-night scene.
Here we are some 19 years later and Arsenio is back at it, determined to whip up a new batch of late-night awesomeness with the all new Arsenio Hall Show or Arsenio 2.0 as I like to call it. Unfortunately Arsenio 2.0 already feels dated. The magic recipe that worked for the 90s just doesn't work for today. Fortunately, I narrowed Arsenio 2.0's problems down and have provided suggestions on how to fix them (it's the least I could do). So let's dig right in!
Problem #1 Bad writers: compared to other late-night talk shows, Arsenio's jokes are at the bottom of the barrel. I found myself laughing at a few of his jokes and skits, and some of the games were just a waste of time, but there was no consistent laughing. Unfortunately my initial thought about the jokes, skits and games was that he didn't have A-list writers for the show. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse you get hit over the head with the desperate race based jokes, at one point in time they were funny but now they've just become a bit redundant.
Solution - Find better writers: If the budget won't allow for top notch writers, find the next best thing... new up and coming talent on the internet, the hungrier the better. Hungry writers = 'we don't have to pay them much because they just want their shot.' I've seen some sketch comedians online that are gut busting funny and I'm sure they'd love to work for the likes of Arsenio Hall.
Problem #2 Poor interviews: admittedly I'm no expert on conducting interviews, but I've watched enough talk shows to gather that the most fundamental point of giving interviews is to extract as much information as possible from the guest in a short amount of time. I'm going to go ahead and assume that the information should primarily be about their current project(s) they're promoting and secondarily, what they've been up to, what's next for them, rumors, etc. What I've found from watching Arsenio and comparing that experience with other late-night talk show hosts like Jimmy Kimmel is that I got more info from Jimmy Kimmel's interview of a guest then I did from Arsenio's guest.
In a matter of a few minutes I knew what Jimmy's guest did in the past, what their current project was, what they had coming up, their interests, and places they've been and in great detail I might add. One of the problems I've found with Arsenio's interviews is he spends a lot of time going down memory lane with some of his guests. If anything save those funny "remember when..." type stories for the Arsenio App. Another problem is choppy questions. He may ask about one subject and abruptly jump to another one with no smooth segues. The final problem is one that makes it seem as if he's freestylin' his questions and that's because there is too much time between his questions. For example you'll see him receive an answer to a question he asked and then after a slight delay (as if he's thinking of a new question to ask) he starts on a new question.
Solution - Have questions already prepared: I've seen Jimmy Kimmel, Conan, etc. all at some point in their interview use questions from what's been prepared on their cards, and as a result there is never any delay between questions. Why not have cards prepared with primary questions about the guest's current and future projects, as well as secondary questions about their interests, hobbies, little known facts etc.?
Here are a few suggestions that if implemented will take Arsenio 2.0 to new heights:
Suggestion #1 Youtube is your friend- in the 90s Arsenio gave major exposure to artists that other talk shows wouldn't give the time of day, and dare I say it, hip hop in particular wouldn't be as big as it is now if it weren't for Arsenio breaking new talent and giving folks their shot. It's only right that the Arsenio 2.0 continues the tradition by looking to the internet to find and break new talent -- singers, emcees, comedians, etc., who are doing their thing on Youtube and other internet outlets can be given their shot on the new show.
Suggestion #2 Interactive is the way to go- Arsenio is on the right path with including social media on his show, but he should make it an even bigger part of the show. A show were people can interact will drive ratings through the roof if implemented properly. From simple concepts like announcing guests in advanced so viewers can generate questions via Twitter and/or Facebook for particular guests and Arsenio selecting a few to ask is an idea. *I've seen an episode of Arsenio doing this, but making it a regular part of the show would be great.
Suggestion #3 Mix in the normal- Don't just have entertainers, athletes, and other celebs on the show sprinkle in some regular folk too. Positive people who are doing big things deserve some recognition too. The media loves to show one aspect of the black community (usually its worse) always portraying black people in a negative light. What better platform to change the hearts and minds of people then Arsenio 2.0? Use that platform to share with the world the positive things coming out of the black community that the news never show. For example, the 3 black young men who recently have all the top Ivy League schools pursuing them because they graduated with GPAs in the neighborhood of 4.0, 4.3, and 5.0. The world needs to know about these boys especially other young black men if for nothing else but to inspire the minds of other young black youth to tap into their inner greatness.
Suggestion #4 Best of both worlds- Dominating TV is not enough, Arsenio needs to develop a plan to dominate virtual space as well. I came across a web exclusive of a group that performed during a commercial break. The group was "Natural 7" and their performance was awesome, had me wondering why it wasn't on the show ... but ... then I thought Arsenio may be on to something. He could do something along the lines of Oprah Winfrey's "Oprah After The Show" but with musical guests and place the videos on his Youtube feed increasing his views.
Suggestion #5 Make it or Break it- Everyone
There you have it, my blueprint for Arsenio 2.0's upgrade. By tweaking what already exists and adding a little something here and a little something there I'm sure the show will dominate late-night again.
Just in case I get haters saying, "if you think you know so much and can do better, why don't you host the show?" I already beat you to the punch and provided 10 reasons why I couldn't host the Arsenio Hall Show.
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