Charlie Sheen hits New York - but what IS the show?

Sat Apr 9, 2011 8:08pm EDT
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By David Rooney

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - It's a long way from Detroit to New York, especially if you're Charlie Sheen. One week after his "My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option" tour launched in a disastrous Motor City debut, the show rolled into Radio City Music Hall on Friday night in a streamlined version that was slightly more sedate -- and quite a bit duller.

The most interesting thing Sheen did onstage was throw down the gauntlet to his former "Two and a Half Men" boss, Chuck Lorre.

Near the close of the show, when asked if he wanted his old job back, Sheen said, "Of course, I want my job back, so you guys can keep watching the best f**king sitcom in the world!" He then issued an open invitation to Lorre to join him onstage in his second New York show on Sunday night, "to fix 'Two and a Half Men'."

Sticking with the format introduced in Chicago the night after Sheen was virtually booed off the stage in Detroit, the show was moderated by an onstage interviewer.

Gone is the thankless stand-up comic who turned the term "warm-up act" into a burning at the stake. Gone is the grandiloquent sermon delivered from a lectern in which Sheen spun buzzwords into a personal manifesto for truth in a universe of "fiction-spouting, canker-tongued liar mouths." Gone is the musical guest. Gone is most of the video content hurled on the jumbo screens in desperation whenever Sheen felt the show unraveling.

All that remains of that latter element is a more elaborate reworking of the Andrea Canning "20/20" TV interview, plugged full of broad visual gags that went over gangbusters with the glassy-eyed, beer-swilling stoner crowd. Oddly, this got perhaps the best reception of any part of the show.

But just what is the show? Much as the evening has evolved since Detroit, it remains amorphous and unclassifiable. Depending on your point of view, it's either the perfect response or the ugly apotheosis of a bottom-feeding pop culture saturated in celebrity obsession, rapid-fire visual stimuli and meaningless sound bites.

"How many people want to hear the truth tonight from Charlie?" asked the unidentified moderator, ushering Sheen onstage (wearing a NY Yankees T-shirt and cap) more than 30 minutes after the scheduled start time. But nothing coherent enough to be considered anyone's truth followed.   Continued...

<p>Actor Charlie Sheen arrives for a sentencing hearing at the Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen, Colorado June 7, 2010. REUTERS/Rick Wilking</p>