onan O'Brien's "Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour" hits the road April 12 in Eugene, Ore., the first of 30 cities (so far). What his team has vaguely described as "a night of music, comedy, hugging, and the occasional awkward silence" is already selling out, prompting wider curiosity:
Why a live show?
As part of O'Brien's exit deal with NBC, he has to stay off of television until Sept. 1. As he explains, "It was either a massive 30-city tour or start helping out around the house."
Who's going on tour with Conan?
Sidekick Andy Richter, most of his "Tonight Show" band, and much of his "Tonight Show" staff.
Neither Max Weinberg, Conan's longtime bandleader, nor signature Conan characters such as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and the Masturbating Bear, to which NBC owns the rights, will appear. "Hopefully, we'll have new characters," says Brian Kiley, one of O'Brien's writers, somewhat unhelpfully.
Will this just be a live version of his late-night formula?
Probably not. Though the show's final shape is still being worked out, rumors suggest a Vaudeville-style revue. If O'Brien brings on special guests, Kiley says, it's doubtful he'll interview them about their latest films or albums. A monologue about current events? Nope: "I think it's going to be a romp."
How much will tickets cost?
Ticket prices for the tour, which is sponsored by American Express, start at around $40.
Did Conan already blow through his $45 million severance package?
Conan's says he's not doing this for the money — he's reportedly performing pro bono. His motive, he says, is to employ the out-of-work staffers who relocated from New York to Los Angeles with him for his ill-fated stab at the "Tonight Show."
Will this get Conan back on TV?
It can't hurt, says James Poniewozik in Time. O'Brien may strengthen his negotiating power with Fox by staying in the public eye and furthering the notion that he's "some kind of grassroots comedic folk hero." The tour could also offer a backdoor way to get him back on the air, or at least on YouTube.
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