Cheech and Chongin It

Special thanks to Lina Lecaro of the LA Weekly for recapping the fabulous night with Cheech and Chong. Always happy to have her in the house!

CHEECH AND CHONGIN IT

We waited 25 years, what’s another hour? The not-so-secret Cheech and Chong reunion show at The Roxy last Thursday night was set to start at 8 p.m. sharp — but of course nothing is ever sharp in stoner time, and thanks to the crazy-long line outside, it was more like 9 when the guys finally sparked up the preview performance of their new “Light Up America” tour. Open to anyone who brought a print-out showing C&C in their top-friends list on MySpace (it was sponsored by the networking site), this show also had historic subtext, venue wise. Not only is the Roxy stage an old haunt, its owner Lou Adler discovered the duo and produced many of their films. Like many 30-somethings, we first heard the early work of the weed-loving funny men when we were kiddies, though it was forbidden by the folks. We discovered them as we got older though, and huffing ’n’ puffing with the classics — Up In Smoke, Nice Dreams — became a ritual. Judging from the enthusiastic youths in the crowd Thursday, this obviously continues to be a rite of passage. The crowd of people who filed in toting their DVDs and LPs were also about 80 percent Latino (Nightranger’s part of this percentile) and the barrio faves that blasted as we entered (War, Santana, Ritchie Valens, oldies) solidified the cultural significance of the pair’s success. Though Tommy’s not Mexican, Cheech and Chong have always been a source of Chicano pride (some sober types might say detrimentally so). The duo’s vaudeville skit-style presentation definitely had its share of Mexi references, including renditions of rib-tickling ditties “Mexican-Americans (Beaners)” and “Born in East L.A.”

After a bubbly opening monologue from Tommy’s wife Shelby Chong — who described what it was like when the cops stormed her home and busted her spouse for selling bongs (“They never found the weed in the freezer!” Hah!) — the duo came onstage to hollering, screams and even front-row fans doing the wave. They opened up with the classic car scene from Smoke and proceeded to cavort through bits like “Let’s Make a Dope Deal” and “The Big Sniff,” which saw the 62-year-old Marin and 70-year-old Chong play doggies, walking on all fours, smelling each other’s butts and, yes, humping. The pair’s chemistry remains potent, as does the musical prowess of each. Both comics offered melodious instrumental moments to the hedonistic high jinks, and though smokin’ and sexin’ were the main themes, there was some political commentary too. No shocker: The guys are pro-Obama, anti-McCain/Bush, and their experiences over the years seem to have made ’em anything but apathetic stoners. Still, sucking the hell out of another stereotype continues to be the crux of their comedy. When explaining why they broke up in the first place, Chong told the crowd (of Cheech), “We got rich — and you can’t make a rich Mexican do anything.” Cheech and Chong (who, by the way, recently outed Arnold Schwarzenegger as a former pothead … he in turn admitted to TMZ he did inhale!) will be back in L.A. for two shows at the Gibson Amphitheater on December 6. Wonder if the Governator will check out his old buds?