My LA To Z: Arsenio Hall

The famous funnyman, whose eponymous show returns to television September 9th, does a bit for us on his favorite L.A. hangouts. Here he monologues on everything from hole-in-the-wall Mexican joints to brick-walled comedy clubs, all while racking up the laughs

The Ice House

I don’t know if it’s the colleges in Pasadena, but the best audiences on the planet go to The Ice House. They also have food—contrary to popular belief, sometimes a comedian wants a French fry. And you feel good when you come off stage there, so it’s a good place to go when you want your ego stroked. It’s also the only place I’ve ever heard someone laugh and then let out a fart. I looked at this lady and said, ‘Well, thank you!’ French fries, excellent audiences, and an occasional toot from a beautiful lady. That’s what The Ice House is about.

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It’s the perfect little place to write. The only thing is, Vivid Video is across the street, so all day you see a lot of women in acrylic pumps walking by. It’s like a 36DD minimum to get into this place. The women go there for their lunch and you realize they don’t make them like this back in Cleveland. Sometimes I go to the one in Sherman Oaks when I don’t want to be distracted by Candy Apples walking past me.

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The Comedy Store

This was the first place I was accepted as a comic, so it remains near and dear to my heart. It’s owned by Mitzi Shore, Pauly Shore’s mom, and I love her like my own mom. It’s the last place I watched Richard Pryor. When he had medical problems, I put his cart in my Range Rover and took him out to the clubs. The Comedy Store has many wonderful memories of our friendship.

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Señor Fred

My dad’s name is Fred, and he’s a brother from Georgia. When they put ‘Señor’ in front of Fred, you wanna see what that‘s like. This is my favorite place—although you’re never supposed to say your favorite or you can’t go there anymore because they put it up on the wall. It’s a Mexican restaurant and a sports bar and I like to go in there and eat chips. Have them put on CNN or ESPN and you’ll always find a joke.

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Sky High Sports

Imagine a building that’s nothing but trampolines. Imagine bouncing in any direction you want to go. It’s like Chuck E. Cheese for bigger kids; you can bounce off the floors and bounce off the walls, and one room has a basketball hoop so you can do crazy dunks.

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Exposition Park

It’s right near the African American Museum, and it’s got a giant botanical rose garden. I love that place. I like the quietness. It’s a great place to walk with your lady. Plus there’s something about the smell of roses.

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The Comedy & Magic Club

Comedians are people, too. A lot of club owners don’t think that. They have always treated us like shit—it’s like a free college. We need what they offer us and they have all the cards. But there are certain clubs that treat you great, and me and Leno go down to The Comedy & Magic Club all the time. You get carefree people ready to laugh. People that live near the beach. If you want to duplicate the demographic of television, go there. It’s very much the Leno sweet spot.

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It’s Venice’s best-kept secret. On Sunday nights there’s a jazz band—there’s a spot that looks like a window and they can stick a four-piece band in there. It’s kinda small, but that’s part of the allure. When you walk to your seat you can give the keyboard player a high five.

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The Tonight Show

NBC is getting their face broken. Jay Leno is #1 so they say, ‘let’s fire him again!’ Jay does stand up in the bed for [his wife] Mavis. He’ll never retire. Did NBC go to a dispensary and get some shit I haven’t heard of?

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The Comedy Union

You can’t take in the comedy experience in L.A. without going to the comedy club in the ‘hood. The Comedy Union is like It’s a wonderful gathering place. If I go there and a set kills, I know I don’t want to do that material on Conan. All of these clubs have a flavor. Comedy Store is very touristy, it gives you a cross section of America. Comedy Union is the black club where someone like Earthquake will bring you on instead of Pauly Shore.

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Photographs courtesy