Hall was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the son of Anne and Fred Hall, a Baptist minister. Hall performed as a magician when he was a child. Hall attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where he was on the speech team with future actress (and the voice of Bart Simpson) Nancy Cartwright and future news anchor Leon Harris. He then transferred to Kent State University. He later moved to Los Angeles, California, to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. During this time, he became good friends with Eddie Murphy. Hall was the original voice of Winston Zeddemore in the cartoon The Real Ghostbusters from 1986-1987. In 1988, he co-starred in the comedy film Coming to America with Murphy. In 1984, he was also the announcer/sidekick for Alan Thicke during the ill-fated talk show Thicke of the Night.