Tommy Chong Still Has What It Tokes

Tommy Chong Still Has What It Tokes
Posted by CN Staff on January 31, 2005 at 06:25:45 PT
By Andrew Clark, Special To The Star
Source: Toronto Star
They came seeking comic wisdom from the King of Dope. On Saturday a capacity crowd crammed into Yuk Yuk's to hear Tommy Chong lay out his signature brand of stoner humour. Accompanied by his wife Shelby Chong, the 66-year-old did not disappoint. Part stand-up, part Borscht Belt vaudeville and part THC revival meeting, Chong rocked the audience with his dry delivery and finely tuned writing.
"Have you seen people today?" he asked the audience. "Marijuana shouldn't be decriminalized, it should be mandatory."Unlike previous Tommy Chong visits, Saturday's show had a political undertone. In 2003 Chong was arrested for selling drug paraphernalia on the Internet, or, as he would put it, "I was busted for selling bongs." Chong was sentenced to nine months in a Californian minimum-security prison. It was an ironic turn for the comedian, who in 1992 told me he was amazed that people were still "doing incredible amounts of time for possession of pot. It is like the Twilight Zone for me."The arrest has become comic fodder. Last December he appeared in the Marijuana-logues in New York City and the comic spent a fair portion of his Yuk Yuk's show detailing the experience. Decked out in a "Tommy Chong Free at Last" T-shirt, he turned the ordeal into a picaresque monologue.His prison guards asked for his autograph, his fellow prisoners wanted him to do lines from his movies. "When they picked me up, it was unreal. I thought, I'm a celebrity, they couldn't really do that, there are people out there who love me ... Then I realized that there are about 10 times that amount who really, really hate me."Chong is an icon of Canadian comedy. Bred in Calgary, he moved to British Columbia, where he teamed up with a comedian named Cheech Marin. Cheech and Chong were born. The pair honed their craft at Vancouver counter-culture venues such as the topless club Shanghai Junk. Hollywood beckoned and the pair went on to record six gold records and a host of successful movies, such as Up in Smoke. Cheech and Chong had killer timing, deceptively well-written material and exceptional comic rhythm. They split up in 1985, though rumours of a new Cheech and Chong flick still circulate. Chong is best known among young fans for playing "Leo the Photo Shack Guy" on That '70s Show.Chong's newest collaborator is his wife. At Yuk Yuk's they performed a sketch based on their everyday lives (while waiting in the car for his wife, Tommy finds a joint and smokes it). As the drug takes effect, he begins shouting, "Hurry up, we're going to be late." When Shelby turns up she asks him where they're going, to which Chong replies, "I don't know but we're going to be late for it."Their act was a stoner spin on the "Dumb Dora" vaudeville routines of the 1920s and '30s (epitomized by George Burns and Gracie Allen) only in this instance the wife played the straight man, with Chong laying out the slow-witted punch lines. This variety turn was followed by dancing (merengue and salsa) with a lady chosen from the audience.The show was topped by a "big finish" worthy of vaudeville. With Tommy playing guitar, he and Shelby sang "Up in Smoke" and the crowd sang along. It was an appropriate choice. As far as comedy is concerned, Tommy Chong is still smoking.Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)Author: Andrew Clark, Special To The StarPublished: January 31, 2005Copyright: 2005 The Toronto Star Contact: lettertoed Website: Related Articles & Web Site:He's Taking One Big Hit Tommy Chong’s Bongs Family Values Chong’s Next Movie 
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