I hadn't been to the Comcast Events Center in Everett in probably ten
years. Not knowing what to expect with regards to location and
parking, I showed up at the show with plenty of time to spare. There
were maybe a couple hundred people milling about in front of the
arena, with the usual radio station booths and security guards out
front. I retrieved my VIP packet from will call and headed inside.
The packet contained a ticket, lanyard and wristband for backstage
access, as well as a rule sheet for how things would go at the meet
and greet. Inside there were dozens of people lined up to buy all
sorts of merchandise and food at the concession stands. From talking
to one of the security guard they were expecting about 2000 people at
the event.
My seat was about as good as it gets.... second row, dead center,
which was about 15 feet from the stage. The set was just as it's been
in the other shows... just a couple of chairs and a small end table
straight out of "Archie Bunker" or "Fernwood Tonight" (sans the gum on
the lamp). While waiting, a couple of roadies tested the video
equipment and brought unbranded water and sports drink bottles to the
set. In the back of the stage was the giant tv screen, and a few
speaker monitors and video teleprompters lined the front.
People were slow to enter the auditorium, and there didn't seem to be
any urgency in getting things going. The show was supposed to start
at 8pm, but the lights didn't go dark until 8:30pm. In the meantime,
a guy named Bob was wandering around the crowd asking if they had any
questions they wanted to ask Charlie during the second half of the
show. My only question (what to do with my website) seemed better
left for the meet and greet, and Bob agreed. Other folks whose
questions passed the 'Bob test' were given a special wristband for
easy locating later on.
To start the show, a video montage went up on the big screen, mainly
clips of Apocalypse Now and Jaws, as well as bits of other gems like
Scarface and The Shining. Someone played electric guitar on stage as
the sound in the video built up to a frenzy, and at the climax,
Charlie himself emerged. Dressed in a Mariners jersey (with 'Vaughn"
on the back) and baseball hat, he was greeted with a standing ovation
and numerous enthusiastic fans yelling all sorts of encouraging... and
colorful... phrases. He seemed genuinely appreciative of this and was
all smiles while thanking the crowd and telling them how much they
rocked. The videographer on stage would occasionally get his camera
on various people of the audience, broadcasting them on the big
screen, which naturally caused them to scream louder. The selection
of fans on camera was definitely biased towards the more exuberant
female audience members.
When the stage camera was focused back on Charlie, you could make out
some of the words on the teleprompter... sort of like a reverse angle
at a presidential press conference. I briefly wondered if this was
going to be a completely scripted event, when - as if to read my mind
with his warlock powers, Charlie said "I'm just going to turn these
things around right now", and rotated both teleprompters to face the
crowd, where they stayed for the rest of the evening, occasionally
broadcasting one of his many recent catchphrases. This made me quite
happy, as this event now could go in whatever direction he, or the
audience, wanted.
One of the first things that Charlie said was directed to the media.
"Pay attention", he told them, and asked that they actually stay for
the show and listen to what he had to say, rather than leaving early
to write something innacurate based off of their own preconceived
notions. My guess was that since this was the last show, Charlie and
company had experienced a few ...inconsistencies with prior events and
how they were perceived by the media.
For roughly the first hour we were treated to lots of stories, mostly
from various past personal escapades and quite a few revealing (and
very unflattering) tales of Chuck Lorre. It was pretty clear to me
that while he despised Mr. Lorre, he did care about the rest of the
cast and crew and would go back to work if 'you know who' wasn't in
the picture, although now it seems highly unlikely given that new
shows are apparently being written without him, to which Charlie
responded: "So how is that gonna work... I mean... where are they
gonna live?"
Throughout the show, Charlie was very gracious to the crowd,
especially when they became quite irritating to the rest of us.
Numerous drunk guests (one in particular in the front row seemed to
parrot the last three words of every sentence Charlie said) were loud
and disruptive throughout a good portion of the event, but Charlie
took it all in stride with a smile and just seemed to feed off of all
the positive energy in the crowd. After the first hour things
fortunately quieted down a bit in the audience, although it was never
completely without the occasional yahoo or random screaming.
Speaking of the crowd, I noticed in the front row towards the right
side was a guy who had apparently brought his 84 year old mother.
Considering the language and topics of conversation that the evening
entailed, I gave her credit for staying there, or at least
disconnecting her hearing aid. Charlie noticed her too and called her
out. He then took off that sweet Mariners jersey and gave it to her.
Underneath he was wearing one of his "I'm an F-18, bro!" t-shirts.
The crowd went wild, and his remaining goddess came out with two bags
of other t-shirts to throw out to the crowd.
Charlie also told the crowd about his travels of the past weekend.
His tour dates were two days apart, but somehow he managed to get an
emergency trip in to visit the Alabama tornado victims and set up a
new charity, http://www.torpedosagainsttornados.com/. He promised
them that he would return once the tour was over and he could devote
more time to that project.
The next part of the evening was the Q&A from the audience. Those who
had gotten writstbands before asked questions ranging from "what's
been your favorite movie to make?", "how much does a briefcase full of
cocaine cost?", and "what's the most you've ever spent on a hooker?"
Charlie answered every question he was asked, no exceptions. While
most of the responses were quite hilarious, in true Charlie fashion,
all were completely (and sometimes brutally) honest. (And if you're
wondering the answers to the three I mentioned, they were: 1. It
hasn't been made yet, 2. It depends on the quality of the coke and
the size of the briefcase ($250k for the one he never received), and
3. also $250k, which mainly consisted of a gal robbing him and not
even getting to the nookie).
I don't remember exactly what time things started to wrap up, but
according to Charlie this was the longest show he'd done on the tour,
and he was willing to go as long as the audience wanted. I think
things finally wrapped up at around two hours, after which he got
another standing ovation before being escorted through the crowd and
out of the auditorium. Those of us who had the 'meet and greet'
package waited in our seats until we were eventually called out in
groups to go wait backstage. They had some drinks and snackycakes
while we waited some more and watched Seinfeld reruns. It took about
an hour before the line really got going, and each person got to shake
hands, say a few words, pose for a picture, and then get their
autographed poster on the way out. Appropriately, I was wearing my
"Fluffy Bunny Feet" Hot Shots shirt, which Charlie immediately gave me
props for. We had a chat about my website, and then he called over
Bob so that the three of us could talk some more. After the photo and
a firm handshake, I thanked Charlie again for coming and for his
advice, then I spent a little more time talking with Bob before
getting my autographed poster and heading out.
Overall I was very, very pleased with the whole experience. The
people who worked at the arena and for Charlie were all very
courteous, professional and organized, there were no major issues,
etc. Of course, Charlie himself was fantastic... great rapport with
the audience, entertaining stories, and for those of us lucky to talk
to him afterwards, very personable and full of energy. The auditorium
was just as full when it ended as when it began, certainly a testament
to Charlie's ability to keep everyone entertained.

If he came back to Seattle, would I see him again? Absolutely.