Ashley Hillard recently caught up with legendary comic duo Cheech [Marin] & [Tommy] Chong to talk about their new flick, “Hey! Watch This!” – and end up talking about, well, anything but. Here’s how it went down :
Q: How did you two first meet?
CM Vancouver Canada.
TC Cheech was up there during the Vietnam War. He was part of a secret army in case the Viet Kong attacked (laughs)
CM I answered an ad in the Georgia Straight, which was the local underground paper. Learn the joys of rubber clothing, excessively hairy men need not apply. I needed the money (laughs).
TC I ran a topless night club. We had an afterhours club and then we bought a topless night club and I just recently converted the topless nightclub into a improvisational nightclub
CM But with topless ….
TC With topless girls. Part of the reason is, actresses get paid a lot less than topless dancers and once I called them an actress…
CM But they still took off their clothes.
TC I had a couple of partners, you know, playing the longhaired hippies and then I had a straight guy playing a cop and then the dancers. And then the straight guy’s wife found out what he was doing (laughs), so I was looking for a straight man. This mutual friend recommended Richard, not Cheech, it was Richard, so I went out to Richmond to this little farm house where Richard was working on an underground newspaper. I met with him and invited him down to the club and he came down to the club. And I remember he showed up with this gorgeous woman, full length mink coat, I mean she was just stunning and I said well, uh, he’s hired (laughs). I always judge a man by his woman.
CM Actually it was a guy that just had long hair.
TC No it was very much a woman. I didn’t know at the time she was coming to break up with Cheech (both laugh). But yeah, when I saw that I thought yeah, this guy’s got something and then Cheech watched the show and then he joined the show. He was like an understudy writer for the nine months the show went up and then my brother fired us. Cheech and I were the only ones that wanted to carry on, doing something so we formed a band, we never played a note because we did comedy instead and the next thing you know it was just the two of us, so we came down to LA and the rest is history.
Have you seen your audience change? Is it an older audience?
CM 80% of the audience that comes to see us now is between 30 and 40, which means that a lot of them were not alive the last time we were on stage together.
TC We were barely alive (laughs)
CM Our audience has grown much bigger in our absence because of the viewing of the movies and the rec ords, it’s a social phenomenon. It’s like social networking, Cheech and Chong, it’s a rite of passage. You get to be 13, 14, 15, you know, you discover Cheech and Chong, pizza and dope around the same time (laughs). You know like we have nothing to do, ok, Cheech and Chong marathons.
TC And we have the ability to make young kids laugh. A lot of our humor, my twelve year old daughter at the time would tell us jokes and I’d translate them into our records. We’re very juvenile.
CM My dad was a juvenile cop. He was.
Q Do you guys qualify for medicinal cards now?
TC Thank God. I got my card, I made Jack Herrera, do you know who he is? He wrote the, uh, Emperor Wears No Clothes, the first marijuana book out. Him and I, when they changed the law the first time around here, uh, there were no cards or anything so we designed our own card. It was a letter, then we had it chopped into cards, so that’s the very first, buy it for about $50 (laughs).
Q Is it signed by a real doctor?
TC Yeah, I went in to get some pot and they said do you have a card? And I showed them that (hands card around) and they uh, they looked at it, they said oh it’s outdated, well, there was no rules, you know, so they called the doctor and he says oh yeah, come on in and I’ll update your card. Yeah, come in and give more money (laughs) but yeah, that’s uh the first card, so we both do have our medical cards.
TC to CM You got one here?
CM Uh yeah I got one when I went to San Francisco.
Q.Well in another six months you might not need a card altogether.
TC That would be great. Yeah well you know they’re going to appeal that. The thing is if we get even a close vote, one way or the other, it’s just going to push the Obama regime into uh rescheduling it, because that really is the answer to legalization, reschedule the drug to uh
TC Yeah, schedule it so it’s by prescription only.
CM I think it’s going to be legal on a nationwide basis within three years. It’s the number one cash crop in the world, up there with wheat. You know? Come on.
TC The Internet has solved everything, because the Internet’s a truthseeker, where you can find the truth. You can say any kind of bullshit and then go oh ok really? For instance, they used to say there’s not enough studies, we don’t know how harmful pot can be, blah blah blah. We can go to Amsterdam and it’s been legal there forever and now they’re trying to change it back because they’ve got this right wing government in there, and they’re trying to change it back, but the genie’s out of the bag, they’ll never get it back again.
Q In your guys’ opinion, do you think people that smoke and get high and drive can get into an accident?
TC Again, get on the Internet.
Q Don’t you think like if we do the same thing that we do with cigarettes and alcohol, if you’re over a certain age, it’s good….
CM Any kind of legalization’s going to come with rules.
TC When we were flying here from Detroit, this neurosurgeon came and visited me at my seat and he says uh I’m going to tell you something, he says I’m a neurosurgeon, I operate on alcohol related accidents every day, he says in my twenty years I’ve never once operated on a marijuana related accident, twenty years, not one. By the way they did a study during Nixon’s time, they did a commission to do a study and part of the study was how marijuana affected drivers. They did this study in Toronto, in Canada. They found that the marijuana impaired drivers scored higher, the highest, than all the straight drivers.
CM Naaaaaaah get outta here
TC No, no look it up.
Q So forty some years later, do you guys still get the same buzz?
CM No, we get a different buzz. It’s more expensive.
TC It’s like golfers. You’re a golfer, you’re telling me those guys don’t get high before they go play?
CM Um most of them no, not the professional ones. I get high sometimes when I play golf, but it can go either way. Sometimes I’m all relaxed I’m not so, I shouldn’t be so relaxed (laughs).
Q Why go back to do this after all these years?
CM Money. Plus we get 200 hours of court mandated community service knocked off, for each of us. So that’s a win win proposition.
Q.The thing with you two is I don’t know when you’re serious and when you’re joking
CM Well see that’s good, that’s acting.
TC The Cheech and Chong brand has survived, you know, like the movie Up In Smoke, it’s still being rented, still being watched and uh so all we did is take the brand back from the people that had it and now we’re enjoying the harvest.
CM That’s what I missed when we were apart, is I couldn’t access this part of my life, this part of my past. We had half of a treasure map a piece and we could only access the treasure when you put both halves of the map together and you miss it, we’re happy doing other stuff, but you miss that part. What about the kids I never see? There still my kids and I love them, you know, I’m still sending checks, how come I don’t get to see them and play with them? It’s nice. All the time we were apart I never denounced Cheec h and Chong, I love that part of it, I love the next part going on but I love that part and I’m glad we’re back doing it now, its fun doing it now. There was a part of me that really missed the road, you know? But I’d miss it for a little while then I’d get tired of it. But I missed going from city to city and find out what’s going on in the country cause you’re there. That’s the great thing about traveling, you don’t have to take anybody’s word for it anymore. It’s exciting, you get to go to different places and see what’s happening.
Q The DVD’s being released on 4/20, have you celebrated 4/20 as a holiday yourself over the years?
TC With me it’s usually 4/21 cause I always forget it’s 4/20 (laughs).
CM Yeah, the stoner lifestyle has kind of affected every segment of society. Weed just kind of goes into every segment, it’s everywhere, it’s the common thread.
TC The most decorated athlete in American history, Michael Phelps. Sure didn’t hurt his career.
CM They kicked him off the Wheaties brand, what do you think stoners eat at 3 in the morning? (laughs). Come on! It’s like it’s more prevalent than beer.
TC I love their argument when they say it’s a lot stronger now than it was before. Well, that means you smoke less. And if you do indulge, you pay for it!