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O'Brien shakes off "Tonight Show," hits the road

Talk show host Conan O'Brien hosts the 54th annual Emmy Awards in Los Angeles September 22, 2002.
Talk show host Conan O'Brien hosts the 54th annual Emmy Awards in Los Angeles September 22, 2002.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former late-night talk show host Conan O'Brien on Thursday unveiled plans to poke fun at being barred from television in a live comedy show that will tour U.S. and Canadian theaters starting next month.

The 30-city tour, titled "Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television," is set to start April 12 in Eugene, Oregon. It will travel to Vancouver and Toronto in Canada, as well as major U.S. cities.

Conan spent an ill-fated seven months as host of the "The Tonight Show" on NBC, a position he took over from Jay Leno.

Amid falling ratings, NBC ousted O'Brien and placed Leno back on the late-night talk show as of March 1. As part of a $45 million exit package, O'Brien agreed not to appear on TV before September 1.

Billed as "a night of music, comedy, hugging, and the occasional awkward silence," according to O'Brien's website www.teamcoco.com, he will be accompanied on stage by sidekick Andy Richter and his former "Tonight Show" band.

O'Brien, 46, joked about his motivation in a press release announcing the tour with the quip: "It was either a massive 30-city tour or start helping out around the house."

Earlier on Thursday, O'Brien announced his plans for the tour on his Twitter account: "Hey Internet: I'm headed to your town on a half-assed comedy & music tour... I repeat: It's half-assed."

During his "Tonight Show" run, fans nicknamed the often self-deprecating, redheaded O'Brien "Coco." A Facebook page run by O'Brien fans entitled "I'm with Coco" was abuzz shortly after the tour was announced with some of his nearly one million fans lamenting that he wasn't stopping in their town.

More information, including dates and locations, can be found at http://www.teamcoco.com. NBC is part of the NBC Universal media division of General Electric Co.

(Reporting by Basil Katz; editing by Christine Kearney and Bob Tourtellotte)