Looking for sympathy amid craziness

Houston rewards Charlie Sheen for a #winning performance

Houston rewards Charlie Sheen for a #winning performance

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Charlie Sheen, Charlie Sheen . . . what to say about @CharlieSheen?

Approaching this particular assignment (covering Sheen's Violent Torpedo of Truth tour spot in Houston), I thought my powers of observation would be more directed toward the crowd than toward Sheen himself. What kind of people actually purchase tickets to witness the ravings of an addict? Who in Houston is making a date night out of this sort of thing?

Most importantly, after reading terrible reviews from other cities, I wondered what made for a #winning performance. 

Whatever went wrong in Detroit (where Sheen's tour opened and against whom he led a rousing chorus of "Fuck Detroit") there was no sign of it in Houston. The venue was, and stayed, full — and the heckling was, for better or worse, encouraging. 

For his part, Sheen successfully buttered up the crowd — a mixture of those, like myself, who attended for sheer spectacle and those who seemed to worship him as some kind of alt-hero — a crowd that, as a whole, already seemed, ahem, well-greased.

Sheen took the stage at Verizon Wireless Theater in an Astros jersey, which he later threw into the crowd to reveal a University of Houston T-shirt — perhaps a souvenir from his visit to baseball practice the night before? He brought a player who had recently beaten leukemia onstage for a rousing round of applause, which only got louder when he asked the crowd if they had (and were willing to share) any of our own homegrown drug of choice — sizzurp.

Alarmingly, the crowd also responded enthusiastically to Sheen's suggestion that running for President would be the "next logical step" in his meltdown (or, as he termed it, his comeback). And watching him interact with fans in an end-of-show question and answer session, fans that included a handsy 59-year-old who wanted to know how to keep her sex life goin', was arguably the night's highlight.

But it's Comedy Central regular Jeff Ross, who shared the stage with Sheen for much of the evening, who gets the credit for making the night as painless, nay, enjoyable, as it was. Although his Katrina/Selena jokes were too soon (as we get the feeling they sort of always will be), Ross gave Sheen the roast he needed.

Cracks included "if you're winning, this must not be a custody hearing," "Your liver must be smaller and blacker than Barry Bonds' nut sack," and "Charlie's looking for a blow job. Not oral sex, but a job that pays him in coke."

Although the jabs were well-received and well-deserved, things took a turn for the serious at the close of the show when Sheen seemed to beg the crowd for sympathy in talking about losing his job and losing his kids. That particular bit fell flat with me because, as willing as Sheen is to laugh at himself, the state he's in isn't so funny when one considers his five kids and ongoing battle with sobriety. 

Sheen told the crowd that their favorite sitcom — Two and a Half Men, of course — was meant to be his swan song. He interpreted the widespread laughter as support, but it's tough to wonder, that late in the show, whether we have a hand in feeding into these delusions or whether, with or without us, he'd make himself a one-man shit-show. 

Click here to read about Charlie Sheen's evening with the UH baseball team.