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KAI RYSSDAL: Conan O’Brien’s clearly not the “sit around the house and take it easy” type. The former Tonight Show host is contractually obliged not to be on television for the next few months. So he’s taking his show on the road. He’s announced a 30-city stand-up tour, officially called the “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour.” It starts next month in Eugene, Ore. But it’s not like O’Brien has to work, so why is he?
Here’s Marketplace’s Jeremy Hobson.
Jeremy Hobson: When Conan O’Brien left the “Tonight Show” in January, he made clear that he wouldn’t be spending his time on the golf course.
Conan O’Brien: And if our next gig is doing a show in a 7-11 parking lot, we will find a way to make it fun. We really will, I have no problems.
O’Brien: I don’t want to do it in a 7-11 parking lot.
Instead, O’Brien, his sidekick Andy Richter and some of his old band will hit venues from the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium to Radio City Music Hall here in New York.
Stu Golfman: You know. he’s a performer and performers love performing. If he can’t do television, then this is probably the next best thing.
Stu Golfman is a Hollywood agent for a long list of well-known comics. He says all comedians crave attention, but he says, this tour might have another benefit for O’Brien.
Golfman: You know, it’s not only going to be him doing live appearances. Stuff is going to get leaked onto the Internet, and it’ll be a chance for him to, you know, keep himself on the eyes of many people online as well.
Just in case he needs a fan base to follow him back to TV — if and when he returns to late night. But what exactly will people be watching him do at these live shows?
Variety TV critic Brian Lowry says the whole thing sounds risky to him.
Brian Lowry: Things don’t always translate directly into that kind of space. He’s not a stand-up comic per se, I mean, he really is by training a talk show host.
And O’Brien still has the PR entourage to prove it. It took me four layers of publicists and agents to get to the one who could tell me that Conan O’Brien is not doing any interviews about his tour.
In New York, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.