Cheech, Chong reunion a high point of Comedy Fest
February 11, 2005
The St. Regis ballroom was packed Thursday night with dope fiends and dope-film fans taking every available seat and inch of standing room in an effort to see comedic legends Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong.The audience, which gave the two a raucous standing ovation, was not disappointed, listening spellbound, some would say entranced in the moment, as the counterculture figures, together for the first time in 20 years, spun stories from their early days on the road.Sometime in the ’70s, Chong said, they were performing their stand-up routine in Aspen. He said the crowd that attended the night’s first show didn’t leave when it was over, deciding they wanted to see the second performance, as well.”We were backstage saying, ‘What the f— do we do now?'” he laughed.
Marin and Chong, who went their separate ways after their sixth movie in 1984, exchanged easy banter early and often, with Cheech making several cracks about Chong’s sexual experiences in prison.Cheech & Chong: Together Again, a career retrospective, was hosted by rapper Xzibit of MTV’s “Pimp My Ride.” He asked Chong how he ended up behind bars for nine months for selling marijuana paraphernalia across state lines.”I’d like to give you some advice if you’re going to sell bongs: Don’t put your face on them,” Chong said.In response to a question of whether fans still offer them dope, Marin said he was offered a joint “in the elevator on the way here.”The evening began with a look back at a few of their cinematic, ahem, highlights that had the crowd roaring. Xzibit later asked the duo if they separated themselves from their on-screen personas.
“I said f— it. I’m going to do it anyway, might as well get paid for it,” Chong remembered.Asked to describe their studio recordings, he feigned smoking a joint. They both spoke on the creation of the mythical Dave routine. “Tommy loved messing with me,” Marin said.They said they didn’t actually smoke that much grass during the making of “Up in Smoke,” their first and best movie, because they were worried about wasting film. When they did toke up, Chong said, they were sitting in a car on the set awaiting the director’s cue. A knock on the car window told them the cue had been given and the crew were waiting on them.On LSD, Chong said, “That’s f—ed up. You’re sitting there before the show and you say, ‘How did I do?'” He also told a story about the last time they did cocaine before a show. It was at The Bitter End, the renowned rock club in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The crowd’s silence indicated how the duo was faring.
“It was a small club and when no one was laughing, you could hear it,” Chong said, adding that he and Marin were yelling at each other before they were even off the stage.Speaking about being prosecuted by the federal government, Chong said he had never had any type of parking, speeding or criminal offense. But Bill O’Reilly of Fox News went on the air and said the reason he was convicted was due to Chong having 17 prior offenses. “That lying c—sucker.”At any rate, the evening was an unqualified successful celebration of the unique and lasting legacy of Cheech and Chong. The latter said it all started with one line.”The first time he said, ‘Hey man, want a ride?’ that was our career.”Chad Abraham’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org