You just spent $120 on a ticket to something to which you had no idea what to expect. A guy, an actor, whom you’ve seen all your life is coming off what’s close to a melt down and announces he has a tour coming to your city. So you say whatever and you buy a ticket. You have no idea what to expect.
Your tickets are sweet, second row behind the old orchestra pit. As you’re walking up the aisle toward the stage you’re saying to yourself “holy shit we’re right up front”, but up front to what? You have no idea what to expect. But, you’re in high spirits and you’re with your friends and you’re enjoying the music. The sound system is impressive and they haven’t even jacked it up yet, it’s just grooving.
Then there’s an indication that the show is starting and out comes the first act. A comedian, if you can call him that, named Kirk Fox is the first guy to take the stage and warm up the crowd. He totally bombed. He was trying to tell an airport story about how the LAX airport staff had lost his shoe and it wasn’t working. The crowd, full of trolls, started in on the guy and he folded hard-core. He never really could get the airport story off the ground [bad pun]. I give him credit, he had no where to go and he stuck it out. But, he didn’t have any good material. I was rooting for him and wanted him to have something funny, but he just didn’t. The crowd wasn’t nice. They beat the guy up pretty good. In fact, Charlie was right there back stage and you could see him from where we were sitting and he was watching his buddy bomb. He came out to help the guy out and the crowd went sick. This was the first sighting of Charlie. He was still in a jogging suit. He said to the crowd to give the guy a break. But, the crowd wasn’t interested in the guy, they just wanted Charlie. Charlie said he’d be right back in a little bit and the comedian started in again on his bit. But, he still sucked. So the crowd got harsher and harsher. It was an ominous foreshadowing as it turns out. It would get ugly before it was over.
So, the comedian ends badly and now we’re to an interlude. Probably about twenty minutes later, the music fired up and the theater went dark again. A video started and this was probably the best part of the show. There were clips from all kinds of famous movies: Jaws, Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Animal House among others. There were a lot of war, death, and hardcore type clips that went into this video mash-up. All while these clips were showing, the music was bumping hard. The bass was so powerful that it was just shaking you. The bass was so powerful that you were numbed into submission as you watched the clips. This was for sure the best part of the show.
Then, out comes Charlie. He has a rolling shirt rack with a bunch of shirts hung from it. He’s flanked by his goddesses. He pulls a shirt off the rack, and holds it up to the crowd. The crowd is going sick. The crowd is so warmed up from that opening bit that we’re fired up for whatever is next. But with all the powerful music gone now, the place is relatively quiet when the initial screaming dies down. Charlie puts on a shirt and the crowd screams a bit. Then he takes that shirt off. The crowd is still buzzing, but they’re going in and out now. Then Charlie reaches for Detroit Tigers jersey and the crowd is alive again. Then he ends this opening bit with the goddesses kissing on stage, first each other and then with Charlie. So far so good.
Then Charlie starts eluding to each of the next things coming up. He starts talking about himself. He starts in on, well, basically how great he is. There’s a certain vibe you get that he’s up there like David Koresh; like you’ve come here to worship his greatness. It was a bit of a let down at this point that he didn’t really come here to entertain you as much as he came here to give you a chance to worship him. I don’t think this is what the crowd came to do and I don’t necessarily think that the crowd was full of fans of his TV show. I myself have never even seen his TV show. I think Charlie thought he had prepared a great show, but this is no Chris Rock show or some other big time comedian and this material has never been tested. Here’s a guy with no live experience and it’s starting to show. Guys like Chris Rock will spend months trying out material at small clubs and dropping what doesn’t work and keeping what does. Chris Rock has said that he’s written things that he thought would kill and they bombed. He said he’s written things that he thought were mediocre and they killed. The point is: when you finally get to hear Chris Rock’s material at a venue like the Fox Theatre, it’s road tested. For Charlie at this point, you’re starting to wonder: where’s this going? You start turning backward from your 2nd row seat to look at the crowd and gauge them. You think you hear a couple boos but you’re not sure. But, again, that ominous feeling is coming on.
Charlie senses the crowd waning here and he cues up the next bit. This is the “Warlock States of Sheen” bit where he has the stage hands wheel out this presidential looking speech podium (see picture at left). This went on a while and it started out well. He said some weird stuff, but if I’m being honest, I liked his twisted play on words. He talked about druids and trolls and all kinds of weird weird prose. But, like I said, this was still okay. His problem here was that he was losing the crowd because this segment of the show went on too long. In retrospect, I think he could have saved the show here almost if he switched up to some music and blew the crowd back with that sound system a little; but he dragged it out just little too long. He didn’t react right to the flow of the crowd. And then, he faltered a little more. The crowd, these trolls, started in on him and the slightest boo made him recoil with self-doubt and he was incredulous that there would be a single boo. But he really was a fish out of water here and the whole thing started to unravel.
Like a teacher that hadn’t prepared for class, he started to try to end the bit early and go on to the next bit and he was always saying we’re going to get to something, but we never got to anything. Each bit was kind of lame. He kind of walked off stage at this point and started some more videos.
When he came on stage next, he talked about a movie short he had made with Johnny Depp and Clint Howard. He said that no one but his close friends had ever seen it and that he was sharing with us an exclusive look at this rare sampling of his work. But, I think people were unimpressed. The video was like something anyone would make on youtube these days even though it had these now famous people in it. You could tell that the movie was made a long time before youtube, but in today’s age, it was nothing special, even if it was Charlie Sheen’s. It’s only going to be great to people if it’s great stuff, and it wasn’t that great; it was kind of lame. This is when boos started to shower out from the crowd. Charlie had said that he wanted to watch the short video from the orchestra section and sat in the crowd with some of the folks right up front near center stage. When the short video was starting to bomb, he hopped back up on stage and gave the hand machete to the neck signal to his crew as if to say cut-it-off and they did. They cut the movie and Charlie said that obviously the movie bit wasn’t working. The crowd was booing.
Charlie came right back out on center stage in a black director’s chair. He now says, like a cub scout leader at the head of a campfire: “who wants to hear a story?” He’s literally asking the crowd “What do you want me to tell you about?” This is the most awkward point of the show. This is where everybody knows that the gig is up. There’s really not going to be anything more than this kind of uninspired drivel. He is deluded into thinking that he can tell any whimsical story from his life and people are going to be so captivated that they’re going to to feel entertained. It wasn’t working. Chants of “lame” are emanating from corners of the theater and it is getting ugly.
At this point he goes to another video clip. He kind of skulks off stage and dodges the boos. But now there’s some snowballing because boos are starting to get loud enough that you can hear them over the roar of the speakers. It’s not looking good. I give Charlie some credit for coming back out on stage at this point because it’s getting thick with boos. He’s fighting back and he maintains the crowd for a little while longer here by asking people to tell the guy booing next to them to shut up. And he gets a little sympathy here, but he’s getting cooked pretty good now.
In his next segment, he sits down to read something that looked like it was going to spill the beans on somebody. But no one cared. In Charlie’s mind, he was ready to spill some dish on some folks, but the crowd didn’t really care. It wasn’t about what’s going on in Charlie’s life that they cared about, they just wanted to be entertained. And Charlie reading some shit off a piece of paper wasn’t going to entertain anybody. At this point the teacher analogy is most appropriate. He was saying “Do you want me to read this?” and there was a mixed chorus of boos and people saying yes. If I’m being honest, there were more people saying yes than booing, but most folks were sitting on their hands and the reaction was so mixed that you could tell he definitely was not winning. Incredulous, he would just keep saying: “Do you want me to read this?” It reminded me of being in school when the teacher said she wasn’t going to read the book to you if didn’t all quiet down. And you’re supposed to shushhh the person beside you and tell them to shut up or the teacher’s not going to read the book. But it wasn’t working. It got ugly here. None of his bits were working. The wheels were truly falling off.
He sneaked off stage again at this point and it was bad. The next video started and it was a re-make of his 20/20 interview. It was pretty funny, but it wasn’t going to be enough to get him out of this funk. He had one more little video bit where it was him and three other guys lip-syncing REO Speedwagon’s “Take It On The Run” which I think he was adopting as his tour anthem. You can hear this in the audio clip posted below if you’re so inclined. The crowd was booing so loud at this point that you could hear it over this powerful speaker system.
Charlie’s last bit was Bob Bus Bench or something like that where Charlie is sitting on a park bench and he’s ready to read something to us again. The crowd is pretty bad at this point though. Nothing is working. I give him some credit to have weathered this hostile crowd and stuck it out. Each boo was like a dagger to him. He had that ego that is so used to getting stroked by rent-a-friends that when he got out into the open waters of a Detroit crowd that didn’t give a fuck about his feelings and just wanted pure entertainment, he was a dead duck.
He was dying at this point and said this crowd needs to be woken up. He said we need a music video to get us awake. He said he was “calling an audible” and he was going to come back on stage to end the show after we got warmed up with a music video. We knew we were near the end of the show because he kept showing this MASHEEN iphone app on the big screen that showed all the titles of the show segments he was performing. He had hit on them all, so we knew at this point that there could not have been much left to the show. What we didn’t know though, was that Charlie was done. He wasn’t really coming back. People started heading to the exits at this point, regardless. But, Charlie wasn’t coming back.
Charlie wasn’t coming back and he shouldn’t have. It was just going to result in more boos. The show was over. It was obvious that no one was going to be saying anything glowing about his performance. I have trouble being a hater and I’m not, but I’ll tell you it was more Bad News Bears than Major League. I don’t think, however, that the show is necessarily over for Charlie. There are some simple fixes that could turn the show around and get it on track. I won’t be surprised if he does a little better in Chicago tomorrow. If he tightens up the length of a couple segments and does some cuts and adds, he can turn it around. Also, I gotta say that there were some trolls in the audience. There were mostly good people in the crowd, but what did people expect? Invariably, it will shake out in the end that Detroit is an easy target to blame for the failure and that’s not without cause, the Detroit crowd deserves some culpability – but not as much as it will get. If future performances improve, Detroit will probably be the scapegoat for a poor performance tonight. Push down on Detroit to lift yourself up, this is a standard thing for our city and we’re used to it – it’s what makes us strong. It might turn out that it was pure sheenius to open in Detroit in this regard: Charlie may be able to use Detroit as a stepping stone in each of his next performances to deflect criticism from this opening night.
You shouldn’t be disillusioned if you’re holding a ticket to a future show, you’re basically paying to see a guy high on narcissism, bordering on megalomania, that is just going to talk about himself and is only into himself. He’s the celebretard du jour and the show is a spectacle only. If you’re thinking you’re coming to see anything other than a man talk about himself who is going give you anything other than catch phrases and anecdotes, you’re wrong. You’re coming to see a spectacle. You’re coming to see the fashion of the day. You’re coming to see the Jersey Shore, the Real Housewives of Orange County, or whatever thing is hot at this second. If you want to be there and want to be able to say you were there, this is the show for you.
And to give Charlie one more bit of credit because I’m not trying to throw him under the bus, I’m just trying to keep it real, I did hear he came back on stage after 90% of the crowd left for the exits. I should also say I’ve heard conflicting reports of this statement saying he did not come back on stage. If what I heard is true, he asked the people in the nose-bleed seats to come down to the front and he did give them a formal “thank you for coming out” ending piece and explained that the show was a work in progress and he was testing out material for the first time. That must have been rough and I’ve got to give him a little more props for doing that as well, if he truly did.
He seemed like a good person in over his head. A good kid born into the spoils of wealth that had been corrupted by them. He seemed like the stereotype of someone you know: grew up with lots of money and lots of good looks and always got the girls and seemed cool, but he was in over his head and had tripped over his ego a little bit. He’s someone America can relate to in this way because you’ve seen this story a thousand times. He wasn’t going to be able to entertain a live crowd of drinking and drugging trolls just because he was pretty lucky in life and pretty charmed. But, he did show some talent and he also showed some strength of character. It takes brass balls to kick your show off in Detroit; we’re a hard town and the gloves are off from the word go. It shows even more chutzpah that when the crowd got hostile he didn’t lose his composure. He stuck it out and I give him credit. As I think about the show more and let it sink in, I have more respect for his chutzpah now than I did before. It is not easy to do what he did up there and anyone who says it is, is well, full of shit.
I don’t regret going. It was something to be witnessed. We knew that it could and even had a good chance of turning out like this. We still had a good time and I gotta give credit on a couple of things: the beginning was great and that he opened here was fun for a town that doesn’t get that kind of love much. But it just didn’t work out tonight. It just wasn’t that good of a show. Sorry Charlie. I still like you and I still like your movies and I will still go see more of them, but the live show needs some revision. At least you still have your goddesses.
See Section Below for Bonus Audio of the Show:
Bonus Audio Clip #1:
Warm Up Act Kirk Fox Beginning of the Show – 4_2_2011 8_09 PM — This clip is 16 minutes long and it’s the opening act.
Bonus Audio Clip#2:
Charlie Sheen’s Opening Act 4_2_2011 9_03 PM — This clip is the opening 16 to 17 minutes of Charlie Sheen’s Torpedo of Truth Tour. The audio is not perfect, but you can make out pretty much everything he says. During the spans where he’s not saying anything, he was moving around on stage. For example and as it says above, he was trying on shirts at the very beginning and not saying much.
Bonus Audio Clip#3:
Live Audio of Charlie Sheen’s Torpedo of Truth Tour 4_2_2011 9_27 PM — This clip is right before Charlie is going to debut his film RPG starring Johnny Depp and Clint Howard. The short film bombs at about the 6 minute mark and Charlie Cuts it. This is a prime example of where the show is going downhill fast. He switches to story mode and starts to have real problems with the crowd. He wants to tell his stories about using crack and it seems he thought the crowd was really going to be able to relate to crack use. To be honest, I have never seen crack in real life, let alone used it. I think Charlie thought that people were really going to be able to relate. He mentions that everyone did crack growing up in Malibu, but I think his extrapolation that Detroit must be a big crack town was dead wrong. The second part of this audio clip is where Charlie sneaked off stage again and played the 20/20 video. The video was funny, but this audio doesn’t to it any justice. If you want to listen to the whole thing, you can, but I’m just letting you know that it’s not all that impressive.