It’s the reunion many fans of comedy thought would never happen. After years of well-known animosity and creative differences, comedians Richard “Cheech” Marin and Tommy Chong — better known as the stoner duo Cheech & Chong — have picked up the peace pipe and are back out on the road, performing old favorites and new classics for the 420 generation.
According to Chong, it’s just like old (high) times.
“It wasn’t difficult at all to get back into this groove,” Chong said. “What we had to do was, again, take advantage of the situation, and that’s what we’ve been doing. The best part of all this is we don’t have to work as hard. We get paid twice as much for twice as less work. That’s always a good thing.”
While Cheech & Chong are best known for their marijuana-related comedy, thanks to albums like Let’s Make a Dope Deal and movies such as Up in Smoke, Chong believes the duo doesn’t get enough credit for bringing non-white comedy to the masses.
“What Cheech and I did was we made it OK for brown people to talk about their lives instead of comparing it to the straight white establishment,” Chong said. “We showed a world where there were brown people, and it was our world, the Cheech & Chong world. In fact, we became an adjective because of it. We weren’t trying to be white or a gang member; we were just trying to get high and have a good time.”
The good times haven’t stopped. In addition to the tour, the two are currently in the process of coming up with a premise for a new feature film, one that can satiate both artists’ need for creative control and fulfillment.
“Cheech and I, we had our problems. When we broke up, he went on and worked with a lot of directors in major movies — like Quentin Tarantino — and I had directed all the Cheech & Chong movies, including Up in Smoke, even though my name isn’t on it. When we got back together again, Cheech wanted recognition and appreciation for what he’s learned over the years, which is normal. That’s one of the reasons we haven’t done a (new) movie, because as a movie director, it’s really hard for me to work in other people’s movies. So we’re still working on it.”
Until that time, audiences will flock to see the duo live onstage. Chong said the response has been “pretty incredible,” crediting it to their comedy not being a show as much as an “experience” — one they’re excited to bring back for Oklahomans who have the munchies for some laughs.
“Shit, yeah, I love playing Oklahoma!” Chong said. “I remember being there right after a tornado, and I wasn’t going to come, and the promoter said, ‘Oh, no, you’ve got to come!
They’ve got nowhere to live, but they still want to come to the concert!’ So I went there, and I met a couple of fans, and they said, ‘Hey, man. When the tornado hit, we ran in the house and the only thing we rescued were the tickets to see your show.’ You really have some of the greatest stoners in the world.”