It takes a strong late-night host to resist doing Charlie Sheen jokes, and that man is Craig Ferguson. He announced earlier this week that he wouldn’t be doing any Sheen-is-crazy humor.
Ferguson has a greater frame of cultural reference than the other hosts, and he reached back to the ancient London hospital that gave us the term “bedlam” — a choice word for the media frenzy surrounding Sheen, but, to Ferguson’s point, an example of a place where mental patients were ridiculed by the public.
As Ferguson noted, you know things are getting serious when a late-night host says such a ripe target should probably be left alone, but that’s the kind of guy Ferguson is: He takes his ridicule elsewhere, to those in control and power, rather than those who are losing control and power.
On the other hand, if you are going to make a Charlie Sheen joke, Ferguson’s friendly rival, Jimmy Fallon, managed to do it in a subtle way. His parody of Sheen doing an ad for a fragrance called Winning was excellent because (a) the impression was dead-on, and (b) although it had punchlines, there was a strong undercurrent of understanding, of capturing just how pathetic Sheen has become.
This was a critique of Sheen humor itself.
Bravo to both men.
What say you?