I was disappointed by Arsenio Hall’s Netflix standup special, “Smart and Classy.” While never a huge fan, I did like some of the things he did on his syndicated late-night show in the 1990s, particularly in having many guests who were never booked by the only two other hosts in that daypart, David Letterman and Johnny Carson.
Hall’s biggest mistake is in trying to emulate his buddy Eddie Murphy and their hero, Richard Pryor, by using the n-word (as well as fuck and shit) repeatedly in his monologue. In fact, throughout most of the special, it’s rare to have ten seconds go by without hearing Hall drop those bombs. I have no problem with cursing, except when it’s used excessively in an attempt to prop up punchlines that wouldn’t land otherwise.
Hall’s material doesn’t just lack cleverness, it’s also dated. His idea of topical humor is to talk about OJ Simpson, Oscar Pistorius, and Tiger Woods’ affairs and divorce — stories from so many years ago I don’t remember how many years it has been.
Hall does score a few times when he’s doing observational humor or joking about relationships, but those are few and far between. I give “Smart and Classy” a 3 out of 10.