How Charlie Sheen Can Fix His 'Violent Torpedo of Truth' Tour
THR critic David Rooney offers up two key bits of advice as the fired "Two and a Half Men" actor prepares to take the stage in Chicago after getting booed in Detroit on Saturday night.
DETROIT, Mich. -- Reports on Sunday morning indicate that despite Saturday night's disastrous debut for his My Violent Torpedo of Truth tour, Charlie Sheen will proceed as planned with the 23-date, 20-city road trip.
There are two key lessons he should take away from Saturday's bumpy kickoff at the ornate 5,000-seat Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit. One is: Don't insult your audience. The other: Give them what they paid for.
What they paid for is major face time with the warlock, with tiger blood pumping and Adonis DNA glistening in the spotlight. What they got in Detroit was maybe 40 minutes' total stage time with His Sheenness, padded out with a lame warm-up act, a no-name music guest and a ton of video content, most of which can be found on YouTube. (Read The Hollywood Reporter's review of the show here.)
Those clips were introduced as "Stalker Videos," allowing Sheen to disappear from the stage for an extended break roughly 20 minutes after he came on. Afterward, he chose to interpret the clips as "an expression of love and gratitude from the fans who said, 'Yes, we embrace this man and this movement.'"
The steady mood shift in the house through the evening was palpable, from rowdy and supportive to ripped-off and pissed. The movement was losing followers fast.
Sheen initially had the crowd on his side, drawing cheers for every arcane catchphrase that has made his meltdown the most colorful of recent celebrity implosions.
He expressed his thanks "for your curiosity, your generosity, your faith and your troll-murdering spirit." He made a bid for audience complicity by invoking "freedom from evil, from weirdos, from fiction-spouting, canker-tongued liar mouths," or some such gobbledy-gook. We were promised deliverance "from the dour and sour taste of malignant reproach." Uh, OK.
Sheen won some favor by sucking up to hometown sentiment, appearing in a '50s retro shirt like the ones his character wore on Two and a Half Men, then ditching it (he ordered stagehands to burn it) and donning a Detroit Tigers shirt with Warlock emblazoned across the back. He brought on some local babes to butcher "The Star Spangled Banner." And his opening spiel was peppered with shout-outs to Michigan towns like Kalamazoo and Deckerville. So far, so good.
But as he burned through the semi-scripted sermon and got to the so-called audience Q&A period, it was clear Sheen had run out of steam and was no longer connecting with the house. "Is anybody else as confused by this shit as I am?" he asked at one point. "And I wrote it!"
Almost all of the questions -- both coming live from the audience and in written submissions -- were rejected as lame or boring. No, he didn't want to talk about AA or porn stars or "dirty sluts."
Sheen promised to tell stories and shed light on recent events in his life, but he never really got started. And that seemed due more to his own inability to stay on track than to the growing chorus of boos and heckles. His constant pandering of "You're all beautiful, you're awesome" didn't really convince.
He crossed a line with the audience when he brought up crack. "I don't do crack anymore, but if I did, I think I might be in the right city," he mused. "Let's see a show of hands from everyone here's who's tried crack."
The angry response showed that this was not the most sensitive approach to addressing one of America's hardest-hit cities in terms of the recession, unemployment and a soaring crime rate.
As the catcalls of "You suck!" and "Loser!" grew more insistent, and the walkouts more frequent, Sheen took a more antagonistic turn. "You gave me your hard-earned money without knowing what this f**king show was about," he said.
Much of the video content was introduced via an app called the Masheen, which the actor claims is being fine-tuned before hitting the market. When he felt like the audience was ganging up on him, Sheen pointed to this innovation as evidence of his superiority. "Let's see, I have an app, you guys have zero," he snapped.
As the show degenerated into the ravings of an egomaniacal clown who had lost control of his audience, Sheen turned the stage over to musical guest Simon Rex (not a big hit with a crowd expecting Snoop Dogg) and then never returned. When the house lights came up abruptly, the audience was left stunned, wondering what they had just witnessed.
On Sunday night, it's Chicago's turn to see what Sheen's idea of "winning" looks like. Good luck with that.