CHICAGO >> This time, Charlie Sheen’s stage show began and ended with a standing ovation.
Sheen changed up the format for his 20-city road show after bombing in Detroit, using a master of ceremonies who asked the former “Two and a Half Men” star questions during Sunday night’s performance in Chicago. Sheen ditched the rapper, the long monologue and the videos that were part of the Detroit show that had people leaving in droves Saturday night.
The changes seem to have helped. Audience members said the second performance on Sheen’s “My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is not an Option” tour wasn’t stellar, but it at least had some amusing moments. And the crowd at the 3,600-seat Chicago Theatre stayed for the entire performance and continued to cheer Sheen throughout.
Mackenzie Barth, 19, said the sold-out show was “weird,” but that “at least no one was booing,” referring to the reaction Sheen received in Detroit, where audience members chanted “refund” and headed for the exits even before the show abruptly ended.
Those attending the Chicago performance acknowledged they had low expectations going in after hearing the brutal reviews of the inaugural performance, which had started with thunderous applause.
“We figured we’d try it out and see what happens, and if it’s bad, we’ll leave,” said Katie Iglehart, 23, of Chicago, who was attending the show with a friend.
But the talk show-style format kept Sheen from meandering and gave him the chance to make some of the snarky comments that have made him an Internet star since his falling out with CBS and the producers of “Two and a Half Men.” Sheen, 45, smoked cigarettes as he talked about his marriages, his career and his life with the women he calls his “goddesses” — a former porn star and an actress who live with him — as he answered question from an interviewer who did not identify himself.
Asked how many times he had been married, Sheen retorted, “Seven-thousand. That’s why I’m broke.”
Asked why he’s “paid for sex” in the past, Sheen responded, “Because I had millions to blow. I ran out of things to buy.”
Overall, he seemed to have a better rapport with the Chicago crowd. As the show began, some began chanting “Detroit sucks.” Early on, Sheen urged the audience in an obscenity-laced statement “not to become (expletive) Detroit tonight. Let’s show Detroit how it’s (expletive) done.” Later, when the interviewer asked Sheen when he had started “winning,” the actor responded, “The winning started in (expletive) Chicago.”
Ellen Olson, who was wearing a black T-shirt with Sheen’s catchphrase “Winning!” in white across the front, said she enjoyed the performance.
“I think he interacted with the audience a lot, which made it more funny,” said Olson, 55, of Elmwood Park.
Sheen has made headlines in recent years as much for his drug use, failed marriages, custody disputes and run-ins with the police, as for his acting. Martin Sheen has compared his son’s struggle with addiction to a cancer patient’s struggle for survival.
In August, the wayward star pleaded guilty in Aspen, Colo., to misdemeanor third-degree assault after a Christmas Day altercation with his third wife, Brooke Mueller. The couple have since finalized their divorce.
Charlie Sheen’s behavior, which included lashing out at “Two and a Half Men” producer Chuck Lorre, finally became too much for Warner Bros. Television, which fired him March 7.
Sheen fired back with a $100 million lawsuit and all-out media assault in which he informed the world about his standing as a “rock star from Mars” with “Adonis DNA.”
Associated Press writers Mike Householder and Jeff Karoub in Detroit contributed to this report.