Live: Charlie Sheen at BankAtlantic Center, April 23

Charlie Sheen
BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Better than: Six weeks in rehab.

Charlie Sheen and his band of merry delusions came to South Florida this weekend, leaving in his wake an aura of befuddlement and confusion. He played most of his hits (saying the words Warlock and tiger blood and referencing his own "magical brain" several times), but he also whipped out a few new awkward ditties. Sheen answered questions from an interviewer and from shouting audience members; had his friend, comedian Jeffrey Ross, "roast" him; had Dennis Rodman on stage for a few minutes to make himself seem clearheaded; then thanked the audience and left with their money.

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Though the crowd had plenty of disaffected 20- and 30-somethings -- the Facebook generation that leeched onto the spiraling Sheen earlier this year in the middle of his very public meltdown -- it seemed like most of the audience consisted of slightly older Two and a Half Men fans eager to see one of their favorite characters walk out of their television and into reality.

After telling the audience that one of his "goddesses," pornstar Bree Olson, recently broke up with him via text message, he ranted for a few minutes about being fired and losing custody of his five kids -- "All my children," he kept calling them, "like the soap opera."

Make no mistake: For any thinking, rational person, seeing the Charlie Sheen show, what he's dubbed his "Violent Torpedo of Truth Tour," brings about some mixed emotions. Even buying a ticket comes with the guilt of knowing that you're probably enabling an addict in the middle of a breakdown. Sheen even referred to the audience as "3,000 sponsors, right here," and when Ross took the stage, he actually greeted the audience with the apt, "What's up, enablers?"

(Disclosure: Sheen did not offer media passes for the event, but it should be noted that he made no money from the tickets acquired for this review.)

The show (we'll call it that, for lack of a better term) began (half an hour late) with Sheen sitting on stage, in a chair opposite an Australian interviewer posing the same kind of questions America watched Sheen twist and rant about on dozens of TV shows over the past couple of months. At one point, Sheen was asked if he would soon run for president. "If it winds up in Florida, anything can happen," he joked.

He told the crowd a little about his most recent divorce and how his ex regularly smokes crack. He stopped, though, to make sure nobody was misunderstanding: "Not that there's anything wrong with crack," Sheen said. "I am the author of the seven-gram-rock!"

Next came the introduction of Dennis Rodman, who was virtually incoherent. Rodman, wearing what looked like either a long red smoking jacket or a short red bathrobe and a Mr. T-amount of gold chains, seemed more inebriated than I've ever seen him. He smoked a cigar and slurred awkwardly about how many women he's bedded, how he was the only player willing to guard HIV-positive Magic Johnson, and how he'll be the only member of the Basketball Hall of Fame to average only five points a game -- I think he invited Sheen to his forthcoming induction. Rodman also repeated, at least two dozen times, the expression "Guess what." As in, "Guess what, guess what, Charlie Sheen! Guess what, Charlie Sheen!"

Then Sheen introduced comedian Jeffrey Ross, most famous for hosting a number of Comedy Central roasts. True to form, Ross wheeled out a podium, invited Sheen to have a seat, and began insulting the self-described "warlock." Ross has been on the tour with Sheen for about a week, so it's not clear how many of his jokes Sheen had heard before. He took each with a wince and a smile, but they were definitely biting. A few of the best lines:

"You're the black sheep of a family responsible for three Mighty Duck movies."

"You're such an embarrassment, your father is ashamed to share his fake name with you."

"When Charlie Sheen comes to Florida, the Cubans run out of drugs to sell."

"If you're winning, this must not be a custody hearing."

"You're drowning so fast, Charlie, you could be a trainer at Sea World."

"Two and a half men? That's how many people were left in the theater in Detroit after Charlie's show."

"Your liver must be smaller and blacker than Barry Bonds' nut sack."

Honestly, Ross' mini-roast was the only part of the show that approached any semblance of actual entertainment. He closed his roast by telling Sheen that he loved him and that he hopes he stays alive.

After a few minutes on the hot seat, Sheen asked if he could then roast Ross. He proceeded to tell four fat jokes ("I haven't seen Bree in a few days... I was beginning to wonder if Jeffrey ate her!") then asked if he had another custody suit, if he could lose Ross too. (Even a very sympathetic audience barely snickered at what seemed like small-minded, amateur jabs next to Ross' professional gut-punchers.)

The next segment was Sheen offering life advice to audience members with questions. A woman in a miniskirt asked if she should "stay gay or marry the man of my dreams," to which Sheen responded, "If you marry him and stay gay, you'll be the woman of his dreams." A film student at Lynn asked what he should do after graduation. ("Uh, make a film.") An aspiring comedian asked how he should begin his career. ("How 'bout you start by telling a joke?") A guy asked him how to keep two ladies happy at the same time. ("You have to keep a running scoreboard in your head.")

Interestingly, you could see a slightly different side of Sheen. He was careful -- or at least tried to be -- not to insult any of his adoring fans directly. They weren't plants, just regular people who were happy even to shake Sheen's hand. And for what it's worth, none of these people seemed to leave disappointed.

An 84-year-old woman told him she was a huge fan of his TV show. "I wake up special, just to watch it," she said. The woman said she lived in the Keys and had trouble finding a man to satisfy her. After much prompting from the audience, Sheen leaned in and gave the woman a sweet peck on the lips and a big hug. (That might have been his biggest applause of the night.)

Then he told a quick story about Donald Trump giving him fake cuff links, told the audience he truly appreciated them, and went out to a rap about cocaine by actor/VJ/rapper Dirt Nasty.

As the crowd poured out to the parking lot (where there was at least one fight), an usher in her 70s summed up the show pretty well. "He talks, and I understand the words, but it's like they are just random words thrown together," she said. "He just doesn't make sense. It's like calculus but with no logic. Or is it just me?"

No, it's not just you.

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: I'm not a big fan of Two and a Half Men, and I've said in the past that Charlie Sheen symbolizes what is wrong with America.

Random detail:  At one point, someone from the audience shouted out, "Where's Emilio?" Sheen responded, "He's off making Men at Work 2."

By the way: Watching an awkward conversation between Dennis Rodman and Charlie Sheen is the kind of thing you tell your grandkids about one day... when you're warning them about what will happen to their brains if they take too many drugs.


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