Cheech & Chong “light up” for new comedy tour
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Two of the most famous pot smokers of the 1970s, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, unveiled plans on Wednesday for their first comedy tour in more than 25 years following their acrimonious split.
“Cheech & Chong: Light Up America …” will hit 22 cities in the United States starting with Philadelphia on September 12 and ending in Denver, Colorado, on December 20. In between they will play Los Angeles, Miami, Washington, D.C. and other places.
“This is a moment that I’ve been looking forward to for many, many years because we have such a legacy and history together that we couldn’t escape it, even if we tried,” Chong told reporters at a news conference to announce the tour.
Cheech and Chong were one of the most successful comedy teams of the 1970s with hit movies and chart-topping records based on their brand of marijuana-influenced humor.
They were potheads who appealed to a youth generation steeped in personal freedom spawned by 1960s-era hippies.
Marin said their humor about doing stupid things while being stoned on marijuana should still appeal to today’s youth, as well as Cheech & Chong’s older fans.
“We’ve had the younger audience all along. Every time they get to that certain age, they go through that Cheech & Chong period of watching the movies, listening to the records. So, it’s almost like a rite of passage,” Marin said.
The comedy duo said the tour will be theatrical and will rely on the sizable budget that Live Nation — the company behind the tour — can muster. When they toured early in their careers, the duo’s props were a bag of used clothes, but the new tour will have large video screens to flash images on.
As they discussed the tour, Cheech and Chong relied on some props in the form of synthetic marijuana plants to win some laughs, as Chong “watered” the plants with bottled water.
Marin, 62, and Chong, 70, spoke about the tour to reporters at the Troubadour, a fixture on the Southern California club scene. Marin said as budding comedians, he and Chong waited in line outside the club for hours for the chance to perform.
Cheech and Chong gained notoriety in nightclubs in the Los Angeles area in the 1970s and released their first album, “Cheech and Chong,” in 1971. “Los Cochinos” in 1973 won the Grammy award that year for best comedy album.
In 1978 their first movie, “Up in Smoke,” proved to be a blockbuster, raking in more than $100 million at box offices.
They performed together onstage for the last time in 1981, but continued to make movies and records.
The pair split following the 1985 release of their album “Get Out of My Room.” Chong said that their break-up — which was well-publicized and bitter — was caused by success.
“What happens if you don’t have big problems, like trying to make it — when that’s cured when you’ve made it — then your little problems become your big problems,” he said. “So you start fighting over stupid things.”
Marin carved out a career as a television actor in shows such as “Nash Bridges” and “Judging Amy.” Chong also did a lot of TV work, including appearances on “That ‘70s Show.”
Chong has long advocated the legalization of marijuana, and in 2003 was arrested and later imprisoned for selling drug paraphernalia.