Just when the initial reports of his live tour convince you Charlie Sheen has begun his final descent into drug-addled dementia, he makes you ponder ever so slightly whether the opening debacle in Detroit was part of the Warlock’s grand plan. It wasn’t, but it had the effect of lowering expectations so far that even changing the format to a dull semi-interview — a series of softball questions that he avoids answering — seems like an accomplishment. He didn’t get booed off the stage in Chicago. By those standards, it ain’t that hard to proclaim yourself “Winning.”Given Sheen’s sense of self-perfection — he has Adonis DNA, after all — it’s interesting to see him so obviously listening to the judgment of critics (and booing audiences) from the opening night perf. Overnight, he ditched everything. The opening comic — gone. All film clips — gone. The long rant from behind a lectern — gone. The Goddesses — they appeared for no more than a few seconds. Of course, destroying content is easy; creating it is hard. So he decided not to. Instead, after an opening written monologue from Sheen that talked of having gone through a war — “I’m speaking of course about last night in Detroit” — an unidentified interviewer sat next to the constantly smoking Sheen and lobbed him big fat opportunities to reveal something… anything. It went something like this: Interviewer: “Tell us about being married.” Sheen: “Marriage sucks.” Interviewer: “Aspen.” Sheen: “You mean that whole knife thing? I don’t know if I can get into that.” Interviewer: “Tell us about your love for baseball.” “What’s not to love?” It wasn’t all that empty, but the nuggets were few and far between and hardly golden. On his success in “Platoon”: “I went from being a dude to being a commodity. Now you can trade me, like pork bellies.” On his two live-in “Goddesses:” “I’ve got two eyes. I’ve got two Goddesses. I do things in a bi-way…. I tried a third — you can’t keep your eyes on that third one.” It sure wasn’t a torpedo of truth; more like a Nerf ball of truth. In between the non-questions and non-answers, Sheen sputtered his familiar philosophies, and bantered with the audience. “Get naked,” one shouted. “You first,” he responded. She would have done it too, but she was too far off to the side for him to see her. Instead, a big hairy guy named Sam traded shirts with Sheen, so Sam was complimented throughout the night whenever Sheen wanted to avoid another query. He was digressive — as always — but also surprisingly reticent at times, even calculated. Given the opportunity to go after his “Two and a Half Men” nemesis Chuck Lorre, he demurred, complimenting the show itself, avoiding mentioning names, and using the comparably sweet “weirdo” as his most insulting description of those he didn’t like. He apologized to Jon Cryer and called him a “rock star.” He even said: “If they hire me again, I’ll do the show again. It’s not complicated.” The crowd had a few boisterous fans who were always screaming for his attention, and drinking too much. The best line of the evening didn’t come from Sheen but from the woman behind me: “Not a place I’d want to pick up a guy.” “Violent Torpedo of Truth” tour continues Tuesday in Cleveland and arrives at Radio City Music Hall on Sunday.
Chicago Theater; 3600 seats; $69 top
An Evolution Entertainment and Live Nation presentation of an appearance by Charlie Sheen. April 3, 2011. Running time: 1 HOUR, 30 MINS.
With: Charlie Sheen