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Still Up in Smoke

The godfathers of ganja bring their chronic comedy to a new generation

What’s so funny? Don’t hold your breath—find out August 5 as Cheech and Chong roll into town. (Photos Courtesy Live Nation)

Cheech and Chong
WHEN: August 5 at 8 p.m.
WHERE: Humphreys Concerts By the Bay, Shelter Island

By Alex Zaragoza

If you notice a cloud hovering over the coast on August 5, it’s not a marine layer—it’s Cheech and Chong and their smokin’ standup routine at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay.

Though their ’70s stoner shtick may seem anachronistic, comedians Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong are proud of the role they’re still playing in helping change how marijuana use is perceived in society.

“It makes you feel almost fatherly in a sort of high way,” says Marin, 64, who will don his trademark yellow tank top and suspenders during the show.

“We’ve changed the culture and brought stoner comedy to the mainstream,” adds Chong, 73. “When we see people copying us, it’s a compliment. I feel like the granddad that’s left the old car to the kids. ‘Here you go. Have fun with it.’”

Cheech and Chong frequently use their humor as a vehicle to voice their opinions on the federal government’s War on Drugs and what they view as the inevitable decriminalization of marijuana use.

In 2003, Chong became the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s celebrity whipping boy, spending nine months in federal prison for selling “drug paraphernalia” (i.e., bongs) on the Internet. Today, he is a staunch advocate of marijuana as a medicinal substance, as well as a vehicle for world peace.

“I’m an old jazz musician,” says Chong, who once performed in an R&B group with Jimi Hendrix. “Before, we had to hide, and that was okay. It was our own secret club. Now, we’re getting close to the point where it will be legal, and I feel vindicated. Marijuana is a very peaceful substance. I think, when marijuana is legalized, the wars will end. It takes your mind off the ugly things in life.”

Marin says the United States economy would benefit from legalization, since every toke could be taxed, and the Mexican drug cartels would take a huge hit (to their criminal empire, that is).

Despite being onboard the bud bandwagon, neither Cheech nor Chong hits the bong on a regular basis these days. For Chong, giving up ganja was a heavy decision.

“I’m on a diet,” he says, having put down the pipe two months ago. “It’s almost impossible to diet and smoke pot. If I’m high, I have no will power.”

Chong says he’s shaken the munchies and lost 10 pounds—though he’s looking forward to lighting up again when his doctor gives him the “green” light.

“It’s gonna be like Christmas,” he says.

Asked what they hope their audience will take away from their show, Marin says, “a lot of merchandise to cement their experience. Memories can only go so far.” (Especially after that third puff.)

Career Highs for Cheech and Chong
Movies: Up in Smoke (’78); Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie (’80); Born in East L.A. (’87)
Comedy Singles: Santa Claus And His Old Lady (’71); Sister Mary Elephant (’73); Earache My Eye (’74); Born In East L.A. (’85)

Recent TV appearances
Tommy Chong: That ’70s Show; South Park, MADtv
Cheech Marin: Lost, Judging Amy, Grey’s Anatomy, Celebrity Jeopardy!

1 Comment

  1. Panama corporation

    August 25, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    He is most widely known for his involvement in the marijuana-themed Cheech Chong comedy movies with Cheech Marin as well as playing the character Leo Chingkwake on Foxs That 70s Show..Chong was born as Thomas B. Although Little Daddy The Bachelors built up a small following things soured when they went with Chongs suggestion and had themselves billed as Four Niggers and a Chink . 7 or bowing to pressure Four Ns and a C before taking on the moniker Bobby Taylor the Vancouvers. 7 .In 1965 the Vancouvers signed with Gordy Records a subsidiary of Detroit Michigans Motown Records and recorded its debut album an eponymous release and their debut single the Tommy Chong co-composition Does Your Mama Know About Me peaked at number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100. 7 After the band released two further singles Tommy Chong and Wes Henderson were fired by Clark and Motown producer Johnny Bristol for missing a gig to apply for Green cards. 8 The group broke up shortly afterwards when Chong attempted to have the Vancouvers contract halved so that he Taylor and Henderson would constitute the group while other members would simply be regarded as sidemen and session artists..Cheech Chong while a very successful comedy act experienced creative differences and split in 1985. He also played a role as a hippie in Dharma and Greg..Chong was originally going to voice the character of Shenzi the hyena in the Disney film The Lion King which would have had him performing once more with Cheech Marin who voiced Banzai.

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