When troubled times / be-gin to bother me / I take a toke / and all my cares go up in smoke
"Dave's not here, man."
Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong form the Los Angeles
comedy team Cheech and Chong. Their comedy derives from pot smoking
, hippies, the free love movement, pop culture, incompetent leaders (particularly cops
) and more pot smoking
. Cheech Marin, a Mexican-American, was based in L.A. and Tommy Chong, the son of a Chinese truck driver and a Scots-Irish waitress, was born and lived in Canada.
Chong was originally the guitarist of the interracial R&B group Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers (formerly "Four Niggers and a Chink
"), whose hit single "Does Your Mama Know About Me", was cowritten by Chong (it was inspired by Chong's Afro-Canadian ex-wife, Maxine, the mother of Rae Dawn and Robbi).
While attempting to turn a strip joint into a comedy club (including combining strippers and comedy routines), Chong met Cheech, who came to Canada to evade the draft, and the rest was history. Born Richard Marin, the stage name "Cheech" is short for "chicharron", a fried pork skin that is a popular snack in Mexican cuisine.
Cheech & Chong developed a crossover audience by opening for rock bands in gigs arranged by manager Lou Adler, who got them a Warner Bros. recording contract and a string of hit comedy albums. Some of their best-known bits included "Earache My Eye" (a novelty single featuring a skit and a song by Alice Bowie
), "Basketball Jones" (sung in character by Cheech as an African-American basketball player, with appearances by George Harrison
, Carole King, Billy Preston, and Tom Scott), "Santa Claus
and His Old Lady
" (in which Cheech tells a fractured version of Santa's origins), "Sister Mary Elephant" ("Class? Class—SHUT UP!!!"), and, in particular, "Dave", in which Cheech is trying to get inside the house after a successful drug transaction, but Chong, too stoned to realize who is outside, tells him "Dave's not here!"
Their success with live shows and albums was followed by a successful film career, beginning with Up In Smoke
. However, Cheech felt that if he continued playing stoner roles, he wouldn't be taken seriously as an actor, leading to the duo's breakup, following more "experimental" efforts like The Corsican Brothers
, which didn't feature any drug humor at all, and the video and album Get Out Of My Room
, which focused primarily on comedy music (and, again, featured very little pot smoking).
Cheech had the most success as a solo actor, appearing in the series Nash Bridges
, lending voice acting to Disney movies like The Lion King
, and small roles in Robert Rodriguez
movies like From Dusk Till Dawn
(delivering a hilarious "pussy" speech trying to hustle people into the Tittie Twister bar), Spy Kids
, and pretty much moving a big step away from his former stoner image. Chong, however, retained firmly in the stoner culture, and his film and TV roles were pretty limited, with his biggest solo success being his role in the series That '70s Show
Attempts at a reunion were largely unsuccessful because the two comedians were unable to get along with each other for a very long time, and appearances together in Ferngully
and South Park
were done with their voices recorded separately. (Chong was also offered a part in The Lion King
, but turned it down, and as a result, the character was changed into a female and the part was given to Whoopi Goldberg
). Meanwhile, Chong and his wife, Shelby, toured as a team, and their routine included updated versions of Cheech and Chong bits.
Plans by Cheech and Chong to finally unite were halted when Chong was targeted by two American investigations code-named Operation Pipe Dreams and Operation Headhunter, which sought out businesses selling drug paraphernalia, mostly bongs, and was arrested and imprisoned for his son's "Chong Glass" company, which sold water pipes with Chong's likeness. These events were chronicled in the documentary a/k/a Tommy Chong
. After Chong's release plans to reunite resumed, but the two still had trouble getting along with each other, and cancelled reunion plans.
Finally, in 2008, it was announced that the duo had resolved their issues with each other, and would officially reunite, and completed two tours in which they performed classic routines, updated routines, and new material. Shelby Chong performed standup as the duo's opening act. Cheech and Chong lent guest voices to an episode of The Simpsons
and plan to make a sequel to Up in Smoke
. In 2011, they did the voices of two of the Three Little Pigs
in Hoodwinked Too: Hood versus Evil
Compare and contrast The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers
FilmsCheech & ChongCheech MarinTommy Chong
AlbumsCheech & Chong
- Cheech and Chong
- Big Bambu
- Los Cochinos
- Wedding Album
- Sleeping Beauty
- Up in Smoke
- Let's Make a New Dope Deal
- Get Out of My Room
- My Name Is Cheech the School Bus Driver (1992) - children's album, released in both English and Spanish versions.
Tropes associated with Cheech & Chong
- Bestiality Is Depraved: In the skit, "Hey Margaret", one of the things in the porno movie that Margaret (Chong) is disgusted by is the lead having sex with a dog. Also, in "The Old Man In The Park", where the Old Man (Chong) tells the Punk (Cheech) that the Punk could be his son because "I used to fuck Buffalo. In fact, you look just like your momma."
- Berserk Button: Cheech on occasion. Unlike the perpetually mellow Chong. Subverted in Things Are Tough All Over, where both play two sets of characters: their usual personas and Hair-Trigger Temper Arab businessmen Mr. Slyman (Cheech) and Prince Habib (Chong), who try to kill Cheech & Chong, believing them to have stolen their money due to a comic misunderstanding.
- Breakaway Pop Hit: "Born in East L.A." (a Cheech solo song credited to Cheech & Chong) originally premiered in the video and album Get Out Of My Room, but is better known thanks to being turned into a Cheech solo movie of the same name, which briefly featured the song that it was based on. It's also the only song from the album that the two acknowledge, as they performed a revamped version during their reunion tours (with a salsa interlude to highlight Chong and Shelby's salsa dancing, something they took up as a hobby in the 1990s).
- Broken Pedestal: Frank Zappa attended one of Cheech & Chong's performances and left because he hated the duo's stoner humor (due to his strong anti-drug stance). Chong, a huge Zappa fan, was disappointed.
- Camp Gay: "Queer Wars", in which they play lisping, limp-wristed space heroes who shoot at bad guys with dildo guns.
- Cool Old Guys: Cheech & Chong themselves definitely apply.
- Subverted in some of their comedy skits, like "The Old Man In The Park", where the Old Guy is kind of a dick (but so is the Young Guy).
- Cover Version: "Earache My Eye" has been covered numerous times, notably by Korn. Hank Williams III also did a notable cover of "Up in Smoke".
- Creator Backlash: Chong disliked Get Out Of My Room because he had little input towards all of the songs in the album and its videos, and it was mostly Cheech's vanity project throughout the production. The album and video's hit single, "Born in East L.A." didn't even feature Chong at all. Neither were satisfied with The Corsican Brothers.
- Dawson Casting: Parodied in Cheech & Chong's The Corsican Brothers as the duo plays their characters' as babies.
- Deranged Animation: The opening and ending sequences of Next Movie feature Cheech & Chong being beamed into a spaceship that looks exactly like a joint. Chong's solo movie Far Out Man has Chong rapping about building a theme park where the rides include Jimi Hendrix's balls and penis.
- Dogs Are Dumb: "Ralph and Herbie."
- Erudite Stoner: Chong is designated as the mellow character in a lot of the duo's routines and films. In real life, he actually is an Erudite Stoner.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: The Arab businessmen in Things Are Though All Over. Especially Chong's character, Habib, who frequently Hulks Out throughout the movie and trashes the duo's car after it runs out of gas while Mr. Slyman breaks the fourth wall to explain that Habib is "killing the car". When Slyman and Habib see a film of Cheech & Chong having sex with the Arabs' girlfriends, Slyman gets the idea to make a porno with the duo, but Habib thinks that they should do a snuff movie of them killing Cheech & Chong.
- Hulking Out: Cheech does this in Next Movie, under the influence of "space coke". Also, Chong as Habib (see above).
- Incessant Music Madness: Next Movie features a stoned Chong pretending to be Jimi Hendrix...with his guitar hooked to a big amplifier. The entire neighborhood quickly knows he's playing, and even Cheech has trouble getting inside to stop him; the sound blasts keep slamming the front door in Cheech's face.
- Laundromat Liaisons: Things Are Tough All Over gives us an awkward creepy version. Events conspire to put Cheech in a dryer, and he comes out completely naked...right in front of an 8-year-old girl and her overprotective mother.
- Non-Fatal Explosions: When Chong lights a joint in a car full of gas fumes in Next Movie.
- Old Shame: Cheech felt this way toward the entire Cheech & Chong filmography when he was trying to establish himself as a serious actor. He also felt that with their formula was getting stale, and that if he continued working with Chong, they would have eventually ended up like Abbott and Costello and made movies like Cheech & Chong Go To Mars. However, Cheech later reembranced the stoner following that made him famous in the first place, and eventually reconciled with Chong.
- Police Are Useless: Police are usually portrayed as being highly stupid in their comedy and films.
- The Porno Mancer: Cheech.
- Racist Grandpa: Harry (Chong) drags his wife Margaret (Cheech) to see a porno movie. Pretty much everything in the movie (including bestiality) disgusts Margaret, but the only thing Harry is disgusted by is when the actress has sex with a black man...the very thing that actually arouses Margaret.
"Oh, he's kissing her with those big MAMBO
lips. That's it, we're leaving. Margaret, are you coming
- The simple fact that Margaret never speaks, all emotions registering solely on "her" face is quite effective.
- Shown Their Work: Tommy Chong is actually a talented guitarist, and played in an R&B band before becoming a comedian. He Shows His Work in his performances by actually playing an electric guitar, and playing it well. He's also played acoustic and electric guitars in several of his movies.
- Stoners Are Funny
- Stoner Flick: Entire filmography, except for Things Are Tough All Over, The Corsican Brothers and Get Out Of My Room.
- Take That: Towards the Bush administration during their reunion tours. Also, Ronald Reagan, when he went into politics.
- The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: Tommy's daughters, Robbi and Rae Dawn. Mr. Skin likes to use stoner puns while describing Robbi and Rae Dawn's nude scenes in movies.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Shelby, Chong's wife.