Kicking off the first of two Los Angeles dates for his “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television” tour, O’Brien admitted that it was a tad “awkward” that the Gibson Ampitheatre — where the live event took place — was just 400 yards from his old “Tonight Show” studio.
“If you listen carefully,” O’Brien said, pointing back to the Universal lot, “you can hear the sound of bad ideas being greenlit.”
O’Brien also quipped that he chose the Gibson — out of all the possible L.A. venues for his tour, it’s the only one actually on NBC Universal land — because his Cobra insurance was about to run out.
(O’Brien also Tweeted today: “I’m doing my live show tonight from the Universal lot where I taped The Tonight Show. So if a shot rings out, tell my wife I loved her.”)
As reported at previous “Legally Prohibited” show dates, in one pre-taped bit, O’Brien is dressed as a sleazy, ego-maniacal network executive — who touts his status as among “the top 17 broadcast networks.”
The NBC gags, however, was kept to a minimum — as most of the jokes were directed at O’Brien (a big fan of self-depicating comedy) himself.
The once and future late night host — looking trimmer than usual, and sporting a series of well-tailored and immaculately-pressed outfits — performed several numbers with his guitar, backed up by singers dubbed “CoCettes.”
Several members of O’Brien’s band — including Jimmy Vivino and “La Bamba” — performed as the “Legally Prohibited Band,” and kicked the show off with a vibrant rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s “Move on Up” (with La Bamba on vocals — who knew the trombonist could sing!).
Deon Cole, the “Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” writer who made a name for himself through several appearances in that yakker’s waning days, performed a well-received standup routine. And longtime O’Brien sidekick Andy Richter was there to provide quick quips, off-the-cuff remarks and a few gags of his own.
Special guests on Saturday’s show included Jim Carrey, who wore a spandex Superman costume and sang — as a duet with O’Brien — Five for Fighting’s “Superman.”
O’Brien also brought out a flurry of celebs — several from NBC sitcoms — to pull the “Chuck Norris clip handle” (which, of course, features bizarro scenes from “Walker, Texas Ranger”).
Among the handle pullers: Aziz Ansari, Jonah Hill, Jack McBrayer and Jon Hamm. (Conan made sure to grab an extra hug from the always impossibly handsome Hamm.)
The Masturbating Bear — now renamed the “Self-Pleasuring Panda” — also made an appearance.
“This is the first time people have paid to see me,” O’Brien said. “They (pointing to the Universal lot) paid me to go away.”
O’Brien alluded to his new TBS home a few times, thanking the cabler for his new gig (which launches in November).
(Photos: Jake De Golish/Wire Image)