On one hand, it might have been fun for the Charlie Sheen camp if The Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen had aired tonight, thus allowing the warlock to invade our TV screens for three nights in a row. But if anyone knows the importance of gettin’ while the gettin’s good, it’s Sheen, and with Sunday's odd moment at the Emmys kicking off the most recent Sheenathon, Chuckles no-doubt enjoyed being the center of the pop-culture universe once again—if only for a fleeting moment—during Monday's double smackdown from Two and a Half Men and Comedy Central’s merry band of roasters.
In art, negative space defines the area around the subject—the area of an image not occupied by an object. On TV, negative space might be explained as every scene from last night's episode of Two and a Half Men that didn't somehow relate to Charlie Sheen. As expected, the Season 9 opener—which aired just an hour before the Comedy Central roast—tackled Sheen’s absence with an almost giddy announcement of Charlie Harper’s death and a funeral scene that served as a veritable roast of its own.
There were plenty of jokes about drugs, hookers and venereal disease, and the show successfully blurred the lines between TV and real life with chortle-worthy cameos (Jenny McCarthy, Martin Mull, and Jeri Ryan) and some winning—see what I did there?—zingers. Meanwhile, Sheen himself seemed to take it all in stride. He tweeted last night, “Surrounded by friends and watching the premiere of Two and a Half Men. Odd... But cool..! So far a lot of laughs!! Nice...”
After Chuck Lorre served up enough Sheen-related ribbing to outfit an entire shipment of Tiger Blood-brand condoms, Comedy Central’s roast went as far blue as its cable carriage would allow. The content was essentially the same (prostitutes + cocaine = Charlie Sheen), but the delivery was in keeping with roast tradition, which dictates being as funny and mean and raunchy as possible.
Seth MacFarlane set the tone for the evening—which was taped a couple weeks ago—with opening remarks that acknowledged the Men premiere airing the same night. "Tonight, on Two and a Half Men, they are actually having Charlie's pretend funeral,” he said. “There's no need to switch over, though, because in a couple of months, you probably can see the real thing.” Later, comedian Amy Schumer also paid homage to Sheen’s firing. “You’re just like Bruce Willis,” she quipped. “You were big in the '80s and now your old slot is being filled by Ashton Kutcher.” Nice..
The rest of the humor sifted out as you might expect, with the professional comedians proving more successful than the more amateur folks on the dais (sorry, Steve-O). Jon Lovitz did his familiar, uppity weirdo schtick, killing with one line in particular: “How much blow can Charlie Sheen do? Enough to kill two and a half men.”
There were many other notable jabs, but no one can touch Jeffrey Ross, who added his own touch of absurdity to the evening by arriving dressed as Muammar Gaddafi. His best lines:
“How do you roast a meltdown?”
“If you’re winning, this must not be a child custody hearing. The only time your kids get to see you is in reruns—don’t you want to live to see their first twelve steps?”
“Every night, Charlie, you walked on stage and you told the audience you were a warlock from Mars. Well, maybe you are, but I'll tell you what you're not: a comedian from Earth.”
“Brooke Mueller—she’s not very bright unless Charlie's throwing a lamp at her.”
“Charlie Sheen is to stand-up what Larry Flynt is to stand-up.”
And that is why Ross is the Roastmaster General.
All told, it was a brutal Sheenis-slap fest of Vatican proportions that included a ridiculously low blow from Kate Walsh (of ABC's Private Practice and Grey's Anatomy), who said, “Despite all those years of abusing your lungs, your kidneys, your liver—the only thing you've had removed is your kids.”
While the roast was easily in a league of its own due to its cringe-worthy nature, Two and a Half Men squeezed in some surprisingly funny and bawdy digs. But for me, one of the most rewarding take-downs of the night didn't involve Sheen at all—Steve-O's nose-breaking dive into Mike Tyson’s fist was far more satisfying than any insult hurled at the guest of honor.
Finally, kudos to Mike Tyson for proving that there IS a weirder person on this planet than Charlie Sheen. And I’m not talking about Muammar Gaddafi.
Did you watch Two and a Half Men or The Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen last night? Where do you think Charlie fared worse?