A lot more people were interested in watching Charlie Sheen’s “funeral” on “Two and a Half Men” than seeing him celebrated as “guest of honor” on Comedy Central’s Roast Monday night.
For weeks (if not months), it was widely anticipated as the Night of Charlie Sheen – Sept. 19, the first “official” night of the new fall season – the night “Two and a Half Men” would return for its ninth season without Sheen. And then, a half-hour after “Men” would have its premiere with Ashton Kutcher, Sheen would be mercilessly roasted on national TV by about a dozen comedians and celebrities, a “starring” role that would represent a triumphant return, of sorts, to prime time for the wayward sitcom star.
But alas – the audience figures for the night’s two big events were so lopsided that you have to conclude that “Two and a Half Men” — which opened with an uproarious “funeral” for Sheen’s character, Charlie Harper — was the bigger draw by far. If you’re keeping score, “Two and a Half Men” attracted a whopping, record-setting audience of 27.759 million viewers – the highest-rated premiere of a prime-time scripted show since the season premiere of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” in September 2005, according to CBS.
How’d the Roast do on Comedy Central? It drew 6.4 million viewers, Comedy Central announced late Monday afternoon. Why the huge difference? A couple of reasons: “Two and a Half Men” is a monster of a sitcom, and one airing in prime-time’s best timeslot for comedy for the last dozen seasons or so – Monday at 9/8c on CBS.
Moreover, despite all the interest in seeing Charlie Sheen return to television, Comedy Central’s raunchy roasts are an acquired taste (and Comedy Central doesn’t draw audiences the size of CBS’s generally). In fact, in terms of content, the Comedy Central Roasts are as close to R- or even X-rated as advertiser-supported television gets. And while “Two and a Half Men” can get pretty racy in its own right, the CBS sitcom practically qualifies as family entertainment when you compare it to the no-holds-barred utterances of the comedians and celebs on the roasts.
For the record, the Charlie Sheen Roast did emerge as the highest-rated of all the roasts seen so far on Comedy Central.