Charlie Sheen had a winning Monday night as the victim of his own Comedy Central Roast, raking in a record 6.4 million viewers, making the actor the channel's highest-rated Roastee.
Jeff Foxworthy was the previous record holder, attracting 6.2 million viewers in 2005. Sheen will also be pleased to know that his Comedy Central Roast was also the second most-watched telecast in the channel's history, after stand-up comic Jeff Dunham's 2008 holiday special.
Sheen was fired in February after eight seasons on the hit CBS show Two and a Half Men for drug use and erratic behavior, including a tirade he launched against his bosses and the show's creator, Chuck Lorre. Once axed from the show, Sheen gained unprecedented popularity when he appeared strung-out on ABC's 20/20 and delivered one of the most memorable interviews in the show's history. The clips went viral on YouTube and Tumblr, and several quotes from his interview, like winning and tiger blood, pervaded the Internet for months.
On Monday, CBS aired the first Sheen-less episode of Two and a Half Men on the same night as Sheen's roast, introducing Ashton Kutcher as a brand-new character. Sheen's Charlie Harper character was killed off in the show, apparently hit by a subway train in Paris.
The hits just kept on coming for Sheen Monday night, with several comics lambasting the star for his erratic behavior from earlier this year. There were some great lines from the night.
- Jeff Ross: Charlie, if you're winning, this must not be the child custody hearing. Only time your kids get to see you is in re-runs. Charlie, don't you want to live to see their first 12 steps?
- William Shatner: First off, Charlie, I'm 80-years-old. You're what, 47? [Sheen: 46.] Then how come we look like we went to high school together?
- Seth MacFarlane: Honestly Charlie, I never thought I would live to see this night that you would live to see this night.
The Comedy Central program has always intended to be insulting and offensive, but many viewers felt some comics took the joke-making too far. Audiences particularly crucified former Last Comic Standing contestant Amy Schumer, who made a joke about late Jackass star Ryan Dunn, who died earlier this year in a car crash.
Jackass co-star Steve-O (real name Stephen Gilchrist Glover) was sitting up on the dais when Schumer addressed him, saying, I'm sorry for the loss of your friend, Ryan Dunn. I know you were thinking, 'It could have been me,' and I know we were all thinking, 'Why wasn't it?'
Cameras panned back to Steve-O, who looked shocked, and several angry audience members booed the joke. Viewers crushed Schumer over Twitter as well, but several fans stuck up for her, reminding other viewers that the show is a roast, and meant to be offensive.
Comparatively, Seth MacFarlane joked about Amy Winehouse, whose death is far more recent, but received far less criticism.
The Roast of Charlie Sheen will air several more times on Comedy Central this week.