All three stars have taken or are taking their shows on the road, cutting out the mainstream-media middlemen represented by television networks and film studios and bringing their voices right to the people. O’Brien — who took his “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour” to 32 cities last year after severing his relationship with NBC — proved the template can be a success. After being treated like a rock star on the road by Team CoCo fanatics, he wound up with another late-night talk show and, more recently, a documentary about the touring experience that was just snatched up for distribution at Austin’s South by Southwest Festival. Not bad.
Smith — who brought his new fundamentalist horror movie, “Red State,” to D.C’s Warner Theatre last night as part of his national series of DIY screenings and Q&As — wants to prove he can both make and distribute films on his own, without backing from major studios. Sheen, on the other hand, just wants to prove that he’s perpetually winning. Obviously those goals are very different, but the methodology still comes from the same playbook O’Brien used: Just do it live and on your own.
So are there other stars who could give their careers or projects a needed dose of rocket-fuel by adopting the same onstage routine? Of course there are. Here’s a list of five.
1. Dave Chappelle: It’s been six years since the D.C. native walked away from his hugely successful “Chappelle’s Show,” in part, as he explained at the time, because he felt he was losing control of the comedy. Why not take control again, make a comeback and launch a national tour that features a mix of stand-up and that sketch comedy he does so well? Sure, he’s clearly content to live a quiet life in Ohio and probably has no interest in doing this. But America hasn’t been the same since Chappelle stopped doing his Lil Jon impression.
2. The cast of “Arrested Development”: It seems clear that the much-discussed “Arrested Development" movie is never going to happen, or at least not for many years. So let’s reach a compromise and reassemble the cast for a series of improv comedy nights. Granted, cast members like Jason Bateman, Will Arnett and Michael Cera have thriving movie and TV careers and therefore have no financial motivation to do this sort of thing. But surely they’d want to, for the fans of the Bluth family? Plus, who wouldn’t want to see a live riff on the chicken dance?
3. The cast of “The Breakfast Club”: In a similar vein, let’s bring the brain (Anthony Michael Hall), the athlete (Emilio Estevez), the princess (Molly Ringwald), the basketcase (Ally Sheedy) and the criminal (Judd Nelson) back together for a series of limited performances. The show --“Demented and Sad, But Still Social: ‘The Breakfast Club’ Three Decades Later” — would allow the cast members to reminisce about their work with late director John Hughes and to act out a few scenes that show us what happened to their characters once they grew up and their hearts, presumably, died. Every Gen Xer on the planet would want a ticket.
4. Wesley Snipes: The “Blade” star is currently serving a three-year prison sentence in his much publicized tax evasion case. But once he gets released, it’s time to reintroduce himself to the public. And what better way to do it than by writing his own one-man show that tells, in dramatic fashion, his version of the tax evasion story? Book it off-Broadway, get some good reviews, then all of a sudden, Snipes might be starring in movies that don’t go straight to DVD.
5. Jon Cryer: Charlie Sheen has always gotten all the attention. But Cryer is a funny guy in his own right. Maybe he could do a series of live shows and finally share his side of the “Two and a Half Men” debacle. Actually, on second thought, Cryer’s probably better off keeping his mouth shut. The actor formerly known as Duckie Dale from “Pretty in Pink” can save it all up for his inevitable memoir, “I Am, and Will Always Remain, a Duckman: The Jon Cryer Story.”