Road shows today increasingly feature reality TV stars from the "Cake Boss" to "The Real Housewives of New York," who put together a string of appearances to speak, demonstrate or otherwise hobnob directly with fans.
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Conan O'Brien blazed the trail in this field for this with his "Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour" last summer, filling out the time he was kept from reappearing on TV by NBC, which bumped his "Tonight" show with a return of Jay Leno early last year.
As a tour, he traded on the buzz and sympathy from the whole NBC fiasco, but he also had a comedy act, some prepared short films, and had a band on hand with which he could play out his rock-star dreams.
• Charlie Sheen: Life In Pictures
Charlie Sheen, who became a figure of fascination when a string of belligerent interviews led to his being fired from TV's highest rated comedy "Two and a Half Men," is now parlaying his notoriety into his own tour.
Yet aside from a strange rant in an online video — his preferred method of communicating with fans these days (along with Twitter) — there was considerable curiosity as to what his stage show actually would entail.
Unlike O'Brien, he doesn't do standup, sing, play guitar. But if his rants can hold an audience and boost ratings, as they did on Network TV and online, why not 90 minutes of manic ranting, chain-smoking and catchphrases?
Of his "My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option Show," which comes to the Toyota Presents at the Oakdale Theatre in Wallingford on Saturday, April 9, and the MGM Grand Theatre at Foxwoods April 17, Sheen posed his own set of Socratic questions:
"Will there be surprises? Will there be guests? Will there be mayhem? Will you ask questions? Will you laugh? Will you scream? Will you know the truth? WILL THERE BE MORE?!?! This IS where you will hear the REAL story from the Warlock. Bring it. I dare you to keep up with me."
When the show finally opened in Detroit on April 2, not only was it not an "instant sellout," as was initially reported, it was also a bona fide disaster. Crowds distressed by his strange free verse, incoherent jumble of film clips, ear-splitting music and unfunny opening act booed and heckled lustily. Sheen, unused to this sort of direct response, was further distracted from whatever message he wanted to convey.
Scores walked out before the show was over; those who paid for $750 meet-and-greet tickets reportedly were stood up.
"On the bus, someone said, 'You know, we could just keep driving to L.A.,'" Sheen told E! News afterward. But he refused to do that. "That's what losers do! I won!"
And so he appeared in his next stop April 3 in Chicago with an extensively retooled show, apparently calling the Detroit experience "a disturbing odyssey that at times had me questioning the very nature of my soul."
And, reportedly under the direction of the Live Nation co-producer of the tour Joey Scoleri, Sheen sat down to submit to a number of questions, to which the crowd responded positively. Sheen declared at the end, "I'm having the best time of my life. Unlike that death sentence that was Detroit."