Monday, December 27, 2010

The Current-Feature Story November 2010

Cheech & Chong

Upon receipt of this month’s writing assignment, I could only smile. It would seem that my initial foray into the Green Living section had been a wild success, so much so that I was entrusted with the tremendous responsibility of writing about those pioneers of green living, Cheech & Chong.

I know, I know, Cheech & Chong aren’t famous for the same type of green-living that we here at The Current are talking about. Except for those guys in the smoke-filled van outside the Christmas party a couple of years ago. But judging by their shared affinity for the bounties of this great earth, my guess is Cheech & Chong would look on our own Green Living section with approval.

The problem with writing about legendary performers, and Cheech & Chong, who will be performing in Tulsa on Nov. 18, are absolutely comedy legends, is that pretty much everything one may want to know about them has been written. Everyone knows Cheech & Chong, right? Well, as Lee Corso might say, not so fast my friend.

Most people probably think of one thing when they think of Cheech & Chong: marijuana. As a duo, their love of pot has served as the basis for most of their comedy, whether it’s their stand-up act, movies, stand-up act or movies. Actually, they may be most famous for a novelty song, “Santa Claus and His Old Lady”, that can be heard every Christmas. And I mean heard, as in over and over. Indeed, it was their comedy albums back in the 70s and 80s that put these two on the map, and like most of their other work as a duo, the comedy relied heavily on the pot references. But is it fair to define these two solely by their love of marijuana? Not even close.

Did you know Tommy Chong, (the “Chong” half of the duo) was once a successful online businessman? Well, to be fair, that online business, Chong’s Glass, distributed marijuana-related paraphernalia, but he was quite successful at it.

Did you know Tommy Chong is also a political dissident who chose a stint in prison on trumped-up federal charges so that his wife and business partners could avoid jail time? I mean, in the interest of full disclosure, he was convicted of conspiring to distribute drug paraphernalia, marijuana bongs, across state lines, for which he served nine months in federal prison (and which also led to his writing The I Chong: Meditations From the Joint, which became a bestseller).

Did you know that Tommy Chong is a tireless political and social activist? Of course, you can probably guess what cause he’s chosen to support. If you can’t, it’s marijuana legalization. Think about the tax revenue!

Did you know that Cheech & Chong are professional wrestlers? Okay, that one’s not really true at all, but they did serve as guest hosts back in March when WWE Raw came to Oklahoma City. And while they didn’t actually get in the ring because they happened to be too high from the “magic cereal” that Hornswoggle fed them, causing them to mistake William Regal for Eve Torres and Chris Masters for Kelly Kelly, which led to them ordering the two into a diva pajama pillow fight as they watched intently from their ringside recliners, they did seem to enjoy themselves. Seriously, I didn’t make any of that up.

The truth is, Tommy Chong has made the reformation of marijuana laws a major focus in his life, and even when the two parted ways in the early eighties, Chong continued to perform his comedy, both as a solo act and with his wife, Shelby, a successful comedian herself. Through it all, including the stint in prison, Chong continued, and continues, on his quest to see the legalization of marijuana. Richard “Cheech” Marin? He went mainstream.

Remember that TV show about the plane crash survivors and polar bears and time travel and good versus evil and the Korean mafia and baby stealing and moving islands and plenty of other nonsense that I can’t think of right now called Lost. Cheech was on that. He was also on Nash Bridges and Grey’s Anatomy. And in plenty of movies like Tin Cup and everything Robert Rodriguez has ever done. But a couple years ago, Cheech decided it was time to return to the dark side. Or the green side. In 2008, Cheech & Chong got the band back together (literally, they play songs and everything) and embarked on the Cheech & Chong Light Up America/Canada Tour, their first in over 20 years.

And with the success of that tour, the iconic duo is doing it all over again, again, with the follow-up Cheech & Chong: Get It Legal Tour. Do your part to go green by coming out when they bring the fun to the Tulsa Convention Center on Thursday, Nov. 18. Shelby Chong will be opening. Doors open at 7pm and show starts at 8pm. Tickets are $41.50, $51.50 and $61.50 and can be purchased at You can find everything Cheech & Chong related at

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