If comedy equals tragedy plus time, then either not enough time has passed or Charlie Sheen‘s self-immolation earlier this year wasn’t really a tragedy. Because the “Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen” didn’t do a whole lot for us on the comedy front.
Maybe it was because clips and accounts of the roast have been floating around since the moment the special started taping nine days ago, or maybe it’s because most of the jokes sounded a lot like the Sheen jokes we’ve been hearing for the last six months, only with more cursing.
Or maybe, with the preponderance of jabs about Sheen’s prodigious drug use and penchant for prostitutes, the roast just played like a very long, standards-and-practices-free episode of “Two and a Half Men.” (Which, by the way, didn’t let the death of Charlie Harper get in the way of at least a dozen sophomoric jokes in its season premiere.)
There were highlights, to be sure. Jon Lovitz — one of the few roasters who actually knows Sheen — at least had a fresh twist on a couple of the usual coke-and-hookers jokes about the guest of honor. Patrice O’Neal‘s off-script meanderings didn’t have a lot to do with Sheen, but they were pretty funny. And whatever Mike Tyson was doing, oddly enough, actually seemed to work.
But Kate Walsh? Anthony Jeselnik? Amy Schumer? Steve-O? We couldn’t come up with any discernible to Sheen, and their jokes didn’t have a whole lot of discernible humor.
It’s hard even to give Sheen props for being a good sport, because A) that’s what you’re supposed do at an event like this; and B) taking the on-stage ripping, then giving it back at the end while saying “I’ve already won” felt like a very calculated piece of image rehab on Sheen’s part. It’s of a piece with his “Today” and “Tonight” show appearances last week, his “Wendy Williams Show” interview this week and his Emmy Awards appearance. Hey, you can’t make a TV show unless you can convince people to work with you.
All those factors added up to a less-than-stellar barbecuing of Mr. Tiger Blood Vatican Assassin from Mars. Your comedy mileage may vary; let us know what you think in the comments.