The show must go on for Arsenio Hall.
In the March issue of Esquire, the comedian talks about hosting his late night talk show during the 1992 L.A. riots, which erupted following the acquittal of police officers charged in the beating of Rodney King.
As it turns out, the network wanted to air a rerun the night of the riots, but Hall insisted on going ahead with the show.
“I’m the guy that needs to do a show,” he says, recalling asking Reverend Cecil Murray of the First African Methodist Church in South Central to get people for his audience, and bringing on Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley as a guest.
Actor Edward James Olmos also urged viewers to meet him out in South Central to help with clean-up.
“It created these news photos of Black people and white people sharing water and sweeping,” Hall says. “I loved being able to be that guy. When I look back, I realize I was Twitter.”
Hall also talks about starring in “The Celebrity Apprentice” in 2012.
“Donald Trump and I don’t speak anymore,” Hall says. “If you watch that show, we got along.”
The actor then told the story, “I went to do an event with him in New York, and we’re alone, and I’d seen him on TV doing this birther thing. I tried to bring it up as a joke: ‘When you met me, did you think I was from Zaire instead of Cleveland?’”
Trump didn’t get the joke, though.
“So I say, ‘I know there aren’t a lot of Black people around you, but you have to understand how it feels when you say the first Black president shouldn’t even be here,'” Hall says.
Explaining that he just wanted Trump to admit he was just trying to get attention, but the future U.S. president only doubled down.
“What that means is you don’t respect me. You’re trying to mentally pimp me because you know what you’re saying is not true,” Hall says. “I don’t know if people understand how it hurts. You want to say, ‘I’ll whoop his racist f**king a**.’ But that’s not how you feel. Racism just hurts. Right then I knew I’d never talk to him again.”
The March issue of Esquire is available now.