Things got bad, but not that bad.
Charlie Sheen's "Torpedo of Truth/Failure is Not an Option" tour opened and tanked in Detroit.
The only person who didn't see disaster coming was Charlie Sheen. The organizers, I'm sure were indfferent, because once Sheen took the stage, they would, Sheen told a heckler in the audience, "Sorry dude, already got your money.".
Skilled movie and television actors may be able to ad lib a line, here and there, a gesture, but going off-book for 90 minutes is a very bad idea.
I'm sure that Sheen's sycophants -- and they must be legion by now in his unofficial "I'm Off My Meds" tour he conducted from within his house with the help of the Internet -- thought he had more than enough material to take on the road.
But he didn't. It's clear Sheen figured the mere power of his presence and personality would awe the audience. It did for about 40 seconds. What hadn't penetrated his ego haze was the fact that standing there, onstage, he was just a guy who had to actually do something for the audience who paid to see him.
On the other hand, whoever would pay to see Charlie Sheen live deserves what they get.
The detail that amazed me most about Sheen's failure at the Fox Theatre was that he filled the "show" with video clips.
My gawd, that's how Jerry Lewis pads his pathetic shows! And that's because he's 104 years old and would probably -- we can only hope -- herniate and incapacitate himself trying to mimic the physical comedy for which he is notorious.
But Charlie Sheen . . .
When I first heard news of this "tour," it's odd, pretentious title made me wonder "Torpedo of what Truth?"
Truth in general? A specific, political truth of contemporary America (I have heard Sheen speak about his doubts about the official story of 911 on the Alex Jones Show).
Or, his own personal truth -- that he's no longer going to play the Hollywood game and lower himself to be the highest paid actor on TV.
After the disaster in Detroit, I saw that the "truth" in question is that which all of us, at one time, have suffered through at the holiday dinner table as a drunk, uneducated family member bawls, "The people gotta wake up!"
"Wake up to what?" I asked the inebriated Paul Revere at my holiday dinner table one Thanksgiving.
The drunken family member looked at me, aghast, fearful for my soul that it wasn't blatantly obvious by the way he'd made his argument.
"They gotta wake up, man!" he continued, expanding on his philosophy. "People are getting screwed and they got . . . people gotta wake up!"
In 2001, I recall dozing as my wife watched the Golden Globe Awards. I was roused from my stupor at the announcement that Al Pacino would recieve the Cecile B. De Mille Lifetime Achievement Award.
I watched with dawning horror as Pacino accepted his award, said a few thank yous, and then launched into one of the most laughable, painful, idiotic excursions into public speaking I have ever witnessed.
There was Serpico, Sonny from Dog Day Afternoon, Michael Corleone, Tony Montana, speaking, making no earthly sense whatsoever.
Pacino rambled for what seemed like 20 minutes. At one point, he wondered aloud if he even liked acting, or if he would continue acting.
Pacino didn't appear drunk, but it's been revealed in subsequent years that he's a life long alcoholic; a high-functioning alcoholic. So, he was probably liquored to the gills the night he received his Lifetime Achievement Award.
There's a reason you can't find video of this speech on the Web. For probably the same reason nobody will ever find footage of Tony Clifton dumped a pan of eggs over Dinah Shore's head: it was a moment of such embarrassing infamy that handlers, publicists -- anyone with the remotest financial stake in Pacino -- quashed the clip.
That's when I realized Pacino may be a brilliant actor, but that he desperately needed writers to provide him with lines.
No doubt, in deciding to embark upon this ill-defined, unplanned, likely-to-end-early tour, Sheen thought back on stand-up comedians he'd seen. Yeah, most comics make their act look so easy, like they're just talking with the audience. It takes years of honing one's craft to make it look like it isn't work.
Add to this, Sheen being surrounded by parasitic sycophants who think everything he does is awesome, and you've got the makings for the Humiliation Olympics.
I predict the "Torpedo of Truth/Failure if Not an Option" tour will end earlier than planned. Sheen's ego can't handle another Detroit.
Reports from the second show in Chicago, the night after Detroit, say that Sheen was much better received -- although, he did put on a much different "show."
According to the Sun Times:
The show changed considerably in just a day, this time merely featuring the "Two and a Half Men" star being questioned by an interviewer about various hot-button issues: his marriages, how he met his two live-in girlfriends "the goddesses," drugs.At one point, when Sheen took the stage in Chicago, the audience chanted "Detroit sucks!"
I guess that's where it's at in our Fox News, post-fact world: a performer puts on an unscripted, unplanned, rudderless and, ultimately, boring show, and when the audience calls the egomaniac on his bullshit, they're the ones who suck.
In the meantime, Chuck Lorre must be quietly enjoying Sheen's self-demolition tour.
And there is still time for Sheen to pull a Michael Richards.