Why discuss the Rescue Me Comedy Tour, Leary's first live jaunt in 12 years, when there are only two things on his mind: East and Wood?

L.A. WEEKLY: Can you rant on command? I'll give you a topic: Pancakes.

DENIS LEARY: Right before lunch I sat down at my computer and wrote a little rant about how much I love bacon. Sometimes it just comes to you, but sometimes it's watching Lindsay Lohan say she's gonna be under the protective custody of Stephen and Danny Baldwin for her sobriety. It's organic. It's of the ether, you know?

You're a distant cousin of Conan O'Brien. Do you cordon off a special VIP section at family reunions?

I think he's in denial about the relationship, and at this point, I kind of am too, because we come from the same city and different sides of the track. He went to Harvard; I went to Emerson. One's a school full of highly intellectual superbrains and the other is a bunch of actors and musicians and dancers. But for two skinny Irish guys from Western Massachusetts, we're doin' okay.

Which was the greater validation: Christopher Walken poking fun at you on the Comedy Central Roast of Denis Leary, or being labeled a “very epic” superstar during an appearance on The Simpsons?

The Simpsons was really big for my kids and my nieces and nephews, and I'm a fan of the show. There's one that still gets me: I did a movie with Clint Eastwood years ago. They did a biography of me on the Biography Channel, and one of the guys in my office said, “Do you know Clint Eastwood is doing an interview for the Biography thing?” That, to me, is just huge. My mother would say being on Oprah is the greatest thing that ever happened to our entire family. I was forgiven all of my past sins by virtue of sitting next to Oprah.

Forget comedy influences; who inspires those badass sideburns of yours?

Are they really badass? For a fair-haired Irishman — I don't know. Probably Clint Eastwood.

Nokia Theatre, 777 Chick Hearn Court, dwntwn.; Sat., April 4, 8 p.m.; $40.50-$80.50. (213) 763-6020.

Sat., April 4, 8 p.m., 2009

LA Weekly