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Jay Leno to Give Free Show in Detroit

Jay Leno to Give Free Show in Detroit
Jay Leno
Margaret Norton/NBC

updated 03/10/2009 AT 10:00 AM EDT

originally published 03/10/2009 AT 03:30 PM EDT

Jay Leno spent much of last fall making fun of the winless Detroit Lions, but next month, he'll see firsthand how those jokes play in the struggling Motor City.

Leno announced Monday on The Tonight Show that he will perform a free concert on April 7 at The Palace of Auburn Hills. He picked Michigan because the state has the nation's highest unemployment rate, at 11.6 percent.

"I like Detroit. It's one of those old cities," Leno tells PEOPLE. "And when you're an auto guy like me, that city is Jerusalem."

Leno calls the show "Jay's Comedy Stimulus Plan." He says it was inspired by President Obama.

"I'm listening to him say we all gotta do our part in these rough times, and I'm thinking that all I can do is tell jokes," Leno says. "But if I can go and make people laugh, then that's great."

Tickets for the Pepsi-sponsored performance will be available at The Palace starting March 16. They will be handed out on the honor system, meaning that anyone who says they are unemployed will receive a ticket.

"Who's got money for entertainment these days? But here, if you're a little down, you can bring the wife, bring a couple friends, we'll give you a Pepsi, and you'll have a good laugh," Leno says.

If the show is a success, Leno says he might take it to other cities.

"And if people don't like it," he adds, "we promise to give them their money back."

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