Last night, Charlie Sheen was booed offstage during the first night of his “Torpedo of Truth Tour.” I’ve made a conscious effort not to talk about him here, but now seems like a good time as any – since there’s a moral to the tale.
LiveNation thought they could capitalize on Charlie Sheen’s madness. They set up a few dates, when it was successful, they expanded the tour. But what was going to be on the tour? Nobody really knew. Tellingly, Charlie Sheen said that he planned on riffing when he was on stage. Never a good idea.
He started his show with a lot of movie clips (I hope he paid for those!) and eventually started talking. He didn’t even make sense to himself, and after being heckled and booed, walked offstage never to return.
So is that winning? For writers everywhere, yes.
LiveNation had hoped to cash in, that this would be another wild success like Conan O’Brien’s Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television tour- where tickets sold out for every show. The difference? Conan is a writer. He has a whole team of writers, all of whom are familiar with the notion of putting on a show. Nobody just wings it on stage. Even comedians that seem to simply play off the crowd are working from prepared jokes that they’re putting together based on the audience. But they’re prepared. Even improv groups, who are the very definition of “winging it” – rehearse. While they never know exactly what they’ll be doing, they’re usually playing improv games which are familiar to them.
It was no surprise to me that Charlie Sheen crashed and burned on that stage- he did the same thing on his first livestream video. Carrying an entire stream by yourself is much more difficult than what he was succeeding at doing, throwing out crazy quips in response to radio interviews. Perhaps this will teach him that Chuck Lorre and the writer’s room at Two and a Half Men have a much bigger role in making the show a success than he thought they did. Okay, in a perfect world it would. But hey, at least it should show the rest of the world that writers really are valuable.
So there you have it, LiveNation. Maybe you shouldn’t build shows around someone who’s completely unfamiliar with the stage. Or try to capitalize on someone’s downward spiral. Because really… that’s just going to backfire on you.