Five things to know before going to Charlie Sheen's Tampa tour stop Friday
Why would people pay upwards of $50 to watch a celebrity have a breakdown on a live stage – and then complain if the meltdown isn’t entertaining enough?
That’s the question at hand as Charlie Sheen’s extravagantly named Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not an Option tour snakes its way across the country – alternating between delighting and infuriating fans of Hollywood’s most publicly dysfunctional celebrity.
Just watching the onetime star of TV’s highest-rated comedy navigate his oddball performances is an exercise in Dali-level surrealism: like seeing a man perched on a highwire, riding a bicycle, moments from toppling, only to right himself at the last moment and move forward a few more feet.
The latest lurch forward came in Atlantic City Saturday, where Sheen was joined onstage by Filter guitarist Rob Patterson and legendary celebrity roaster Jeffrey Ross.
Yup, the Warlock needed two extra guys to pull off his one man show.
The reviews so far seem to reflect his erratic, up-and-down execution. The New York Post said “Charlie Sheen stank up Radio City Music Hall like a flatulent goddess.” But the Associated Press noted that at his best, Sheen is “an amusing, rousing mash up of William S. Burroughs, Rush Limbaugh and Tony Robbins, sprinkled with a heavy dose of angel dust.”
(Is that even possible?)
Devoted Sheeniacs can trace his progress on Twitter, where bitter messages from fans and journalists at his debut in Detroit were tempered by better responses to a revamped show in Chicago and more unpredictability in New York, Connecticut and Boston.
(I INTERRUPT THIS COLUMN FOR A SERIOUS PLUG: I expect to provide live coverage of Tampa’s exposure to the Sheenius Friday over Twitter and Facebook through constant updates. Check in at @Deggans or Facebook)
Perhaps the Hollywood Reporter summed it up best: “Depending on your point of view, (Sheen’s tour is) either the perfect response to or the ugly apotheosis of a bottom-feeding pop culture saturated in celebrity obsession, rapid-fire visual stimuli and meaningless sound bites.”
Of course, that's why some are lining up for the tour and the media can't look away: Everyone wants to be in the room when whatever ends his bizarre downward spiral actually happens, and we can finally judge the end of this highwire pop culture nightmare with a little perspective.
Time to ask a fan: Why pay up to $104.45 per ticket ($86.75 plus Ticketmaster’s $17.70 in fees) to watch an unpredictable, unfocused narcissist upchuck his damaged id for 90 minutes or so?
Enter longtime Sheen fan Arthur Springer, who boasts his top-price tickets are “close enough to where, if he does something crazy, I’ll get something on me.” He said it’s the promise of being at a singular event combined with the sneaking suspicion that the actor isn’t as maladjusted as media reports make him seem. (like this Daily Beast report with anonymous comments from people who supposedly worked on Two and Half Men about Sheen's deterioration)
“One of the things I always loved was the way wrestlers used to draw people into something that wasn’t really real,” said Springer, 47, of Valrico, shrugging off press accounts of Sheen destroying hotel rooms, threatening his ex-wife with a knife and behaving erratically enough that CBS stopped production on its most popular sitcom to try forcing him into rehab.
“I think a lot of this is hype on his part to maintain his fame and maintain the cash flow,” he added. “I think he’s a lot more of carnival barker than we think he is.”
If you’re one of the lucky few with enough disposable income to take a flyer on Friday’s show, here’s my patented list of Five Things to Know Before Attending a Charlie Sheen Performance:
The show’s success may depend on whether the audience supports him. One thing celebrity addiction expert Dr. Drew Pinsky said about Sheen is that, like many narcissists, he gets angry when the world doesn’t behave in tune with his delusions. So booing crowds, hecklers and folks walking out on the show will spark anger and distraction. So your best hope for a coherent show is if the crowd gives the Sheenius lots of love.
Some people who paid to see the show, actually want him to fail. I don’t get it, either. But it is obvious from the accounts of previous shows, some folks pay their $104 ready to shout him down the minute he steps onstage. Given the possibility of factor Number One, consider buying beers for the blowhards before the show so they’re out of commission by the time Sheen steps onstage.
For Sheen, this is mostly a show about how cool it is to be Charlie Sheen. “I had a dream that I invented scotch tape,” he told the crowd at his first New York show, according to the Associated Press. “And I performed CPR on a supermodel in a heroin coma.” If more than an hour of that sounds tiresome to you, might want to find another way to spend your party money this weekend.
If the show sucks, no one will feel sorry for you. The only comments more plentiful on Twitter than fan complaints after his first show was derision from observers questioning why they bought tickets in the first place. “NO ONE who paid money to see @CharlieSheen in Detroit deserves a refund,” wrote comic actor Patton Oswalt (Ratatoullie) on Twitter. “They should have their credit cards seized.”
Some fans will forgive him anything. “I would just like him to entertain me,” Springer said. “Tell me stories. Give me opinions. Just don’t take me for granted.”
Might be too late for that one.