Is Mo’Nique The New Arsenio Hall?

Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t be watching The Mo’Nique Show. From the few times I did peep it, it was just too much coonin’ for my liking. Remember, I’m not Jewish so I should be able to freely comment on “coonin’” with no qualms #Thanx.

Anyway, despite respecting how far Mo’ has come, I just wasn’t a big fan of her show. All the “ooh, baby” and overall screaming makes me feel like I’m in the middle of a bad (wait, aren’t they all?) Tyler Perry movie.

But, for whatever the reason, I was flicking through the channels last week, looking for some background noise while burning the pre-midnight oil, when I saw Big Daddy Kane dancing across Mo’Nique’s stage. It’s not every day, well, technically night, you get to see a legendary MC getting burn on TV so I checked out the performance and he definitely got the job done (no pun intended).

I guess Mo’Nique was doing some kind of old school hip-hop night or something because during the course of the next hour Special Ed, Chubb Rock, Dana Dane and DJ Red Alert graced the stage, performing classic cuts from their catalog. They all killed it and dropped some jewels during their respective interview segments as well.

Dane and Red might be just a year or two before I really got into hip-hop, but I remember Chubb vividly and Special Ed is my idol, my highest title—numero uno. Seriously, “I Got it Made” is the first rap song I could recite word for word and Ed is the reason I got into rap. #TrueStory.

The nostalgic moment reminded me of when seeing your favorite rap acts on the small screen performing and being interviewed was more of a regular thing. Sure, you had a few appearances by hip-hop stars on the late night talk show circuit, but when you wanted to see a little diversity all you pretty much had was Soul Train and The Arsenio Hall Show. By time I got into Soul Train it was a lip-syncing shell of its former self, but Arsenio was always the real deal.

During its five-year run, the show brought hip-hop, urban and pop culture live and direct to our homes five days a week. Before cable was a staple in every home (Read: mandatory), FaceBook fan pages or Twitter, The Arsenio Hall Show was a basic TV godsend. Not only did it feature an African-American host, but it also highlighted many rising rap artists. I specifically remember when Brand Nubian first came out and my entire high school was clamoring about seeing their performance of “One For All” on Arsenio that week.

There were a lot of memorable hip-hop moments that occurred on Arsenio’s show; from his beef with Vanilla Ice, to Eazy-E’s infamous interview in a bathrobe (pre-Ghostface), to his numerous Tupac talks. When the L.A. riots happened Arsenio was there to cover it; when Magic Johnson got AIDS he spoke to Arsenio, when Bill Clinton wanted to reach the Black community he played the sax on Arsenio’s show; and when Min. Farrakhan had a message to get across he holla’d at Arsenio.

I could go on and on, but you get the point…

Arsenio was the man and his show was the ish. It wasn’t just a Black thing, the list of guests ran the racial gamut, but Hall’s hip-hop connection was undeniable. That’s why it was so sad to see the show go off the air on May 27, 1994. A few cats tried to fill the void like Sinbad and even Magic Johnson, but there was nothing that came close to Arsenio.

The same holds true for Mo’Nique but after actually watching her show last week she might be on to something. The episodes that I have seen featured full interviews with folks the likes of Fat Joe, who on any other late night show would be a performer at best—probably a guest verse on someone else’s song—and would never get any couch time or air time. Mo’, however, chops it up with artists, actors, comedians and politicians on the regular. Where else can you find that on television in 2010?

As much as I still hate Mo’Nique’s over the top antics, she might actually be the best show in town since Arsenio in terms of providing a platform for hip-hop artists to get some national shine on a regular basis. Just my thoughts; what’s on your mind? —Anslem Samuel

Recommended for You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

  • blog-ologist

    HECK NAW!!!!! Mo’nique is no Arsenio Hall…although she can bring just about anyone on her show due to her hollywood connects unlike Wendy Williams who has burned plenty of bridges. But Mo’nique does a lot of screaming…”Baaaaaaaby!!!!” And she always on this “skinny b!tches” stuff…i tried to watch her show, but with all her screaming its untolerable…Then her co-host is a true buffoon…his humor is extremely dry…i like how she tries to keep it positive, but she over does it and it takes away from how genuine i think she really is…she always saying “i love u, brutha or sista” during the whole interview…And her interviews are generally the same…she talks about how she first met the artist, and what project they are working on, and when they next piece of work is coming out…its not personal at all!!! Arsenio was more like the homeboy…And he even had white acts on his show…Arsenio had street cred…Arsenio would get in your business..Arsenio was a platform to address things that was in the public domain…who remembers Farrahkan on Arsenio, Tupac addressing the rape case, Magic Johnson…etc…i heard someone on another site say this and they were right…BET is B.lack …E. Embarrassing……T. Television

    • Anslem

      Word, that’s just what I said. There’s a bit too much cooning for me with Mo’Nique, but she means well. But I do appreciate the fact that there’s at least a platform to see artists you normally wouldn’t on TV. NO ONE will ever replace Arsenio but sadly I guess Mo’Nique is the best we got for now.

      And as for all the great moments you mentioned, I did too, click the links and you can actually watch them. CLASSIC SHIT!

  • 6 100

    Mo’nique as “the best show in town . . . in terms of providing a platform for hip-hop artists to get some national shine on a regular basis.”

    Son, it’s on BET, a niche cable channel that caters to a small subset(read: young) of a 15% minority(read:blacks). Arsenio was nationally syndicated at a time when most people only had 5 channels. The two dont compare in terms of scale or national impact. The competition for viewership is fierce(No Top Model) these days.

    Arsenio impact > Mo’nique

    You getting better,AS. Keep improving

    • Anslem


      Yeah, man, of course, Mo’Nique ain’t Arsenio and never will be (her legs too hairy) but ain’t no other format available to see the artists. In this climate it’s the best we got, IMHO.

      Do I like Mo’Nique and her antics? HELL NO

      Just giving y’all my train of thought when I saw Kane, Chubb, Special Ed, Red Alert & Dana Dane all on one stage for an hour and was like, wow, where else can we get this stuff now? BET Uncut, despite the smut, was actually a platform for a lot of indie artists.

      Soul train gone, Arsenio gone, TRL gone, Rap City gone, Teen Summit gone, 106 just shows 10 videos and would never have the old school cats on for whole show, so mute Mo’Nique and unmute for the guests.


  • oskamadison

    I can do without all the screaming and the excessive kissing up (on the real, she’s worse than Big Tigger was on Rap City) but it’s good to have someone holdin’ us down on the late night scene. I mean, if if wasn’t for The Roots, would anyone give half a rat’s ass cheek about Jimmy Fallon? Furthermore, I digs big chicks and if I was single, Big Mo could get it.

  • El Tico Loco

    Stop screaming and talking about that damn Oscar. You got an Oscar we get it, now move it along!

    She could be sexy as hell but she has no neck that her low cut blouses look like turtlenecks, chin up baby. I haven’t been up on latenight tv since Jay and Conan left, came back and left.

  • Jhon da Analyst

    Fuck MoNique………..

  • spokentruth

    sorry although he isn’t black i think george lopez has got alot of the old arsenio hall show watchers attention with the lopez tonight,the monique show is basically focused on a certain type of viewer,where lopez tonight i believe focuses on multiple type of viewers

    • DV8

      ^^^^^^^this right here

      Lopez would be the new Arsenio Hall. Even the set is somewhat set up like Arsenio’s was.

      I cant watch Monique she is way to loud for me. All that yelling is not necessary.

      To bad Wendy Williams burned all those bridges over the years. Her show would be better if she had better guest.

      • $yk

        “To bad Wendy Williams burned all those bridges over the years.”

        ^ yep

        I have never watched Mo’Nique’s show, but I see George Lopez’ spot being more in the Arsenio lineage.

        But props to her for giving the older rap cats some shine.

        And BOOO to Anslem for even mentioning The Sinbad Show. That was visual diarrhea.

        • Notorious AGC

          i’m sorry but, Wendy Williams look’s like a fucking transvestite, and her voice and show is GARBAGE.

    • Axeo

      “That just furthers the stereotype that George Lopez is actually funny”-Chris from Family Guy

      Really though I like Lopez more because the interviews are better/more personal and he makes fun of his own guest if they say something dumb. More variety in guest and all around better production value. Connan coming soon to the same network that will be a good two hour block to watch

  • Choc

    Good post.


    I absolutely wanted to HATE the show because of Mo’s antics but I kept returning just to see who was on the couch every now and then. There arent ANY late night shows that are going to get me caught up with the current lives of the 80′s and 90′s artist I grew up with like Mo’s show. The lady had Kid and Play on and they didnt even have anything to promote! Who does that? But at least I got to see that Play wasnt dead

  • Q461

    I miss Arsenio’s show yo. Never really watched Mo, but I’m sure she ain’t fuckin with A. Hall . Dude had Pac on his show, Mark Wahlberg, Hammer, NWA, Eazy after the breakup, Vanilla Ice, Ice-T etc. The greatest show though had to be that show where they had all the old school cats goin off…. yo-yo, mc lyte, naughty, tribe, fu schnickens, pete rock and cl, gang starr, das efx, wutang,krs-one, mad lion. Shit was bananas! Just had to youtube that craziness and make sure I didnt leave anyone out!

  • Notorious AGC

    Arsenio Hall had a GREAT show, he had memorable guests and actually got to the bottom of things when it came to rappers beef…i remember the eazy e thing…the MC HAMMER thing..i was young as fuck but i used to like how people did that “hoo hoo hoo” hahahaha

    PS-Arsenio Hall’s reaction to the Ultimate Warrior was…priceless…check it out on youtube…