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Cheech & Chong are a Grammy Award–winning comedy duo consisting of Richard "Cheech" Marin and Tommy Chong who found a wide audience in the 1970s and 1980s for their films and stand-up routines, which were based on the hippie and free love era, and especially drug and counterculture movements, most notably their love for cannabis.
The duo met in Vancouver, British Columbia in the late 1960s. Chong was a Canadian citizen, and Cheech had moved there from Southern California to avoid the draft at the height of the Vietnam War. The pair performed stand-up shows, released many successful comedy record albums, and starred in a series of low-budget films. Some of their best-known comedy routines and songs include "Earache My Eye", "Basketball Jones", "Santa Claus and His Old Lady", and "Sister Mary Elephant". Perhaps their most famous line is "Dave's not here", from their self-titled debut album.
Their early success culminated with the release of their first feature-length movie, Up in Smoke, in 1978. It became something of a cult classic, and was also successful enough at the box office (grossing over $44 million despite a low budget) to warrant two sequels: Cheech & Chong's Next Movie in 1980, and Nice Dreams in 1981. These were followed by the less successful Things Are Tough All Over (1982) and Still Smokin (1983). The pair attempted a departure from their stoner comedy with 1984's Cheech & Chong's The Corsican Brothers.
Tommy Chong directed four of their films, while co-writing and starring in all seven with Cheech Marin.
They also appeared in smaller supporting roles in Graham Chapman's Yellowbeard and Martin Scorsese's After Hours.
In 1985 the duo released their album Get Out of My Room, which included the novelty hit song, "Born in East L.A." (based on Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A."). This song would later serve as the basis for the 1987 film of the same name, in which Cheech Marin played the starring role. Immediately following the release of the album, Cheech Marin separated himself from the pair's drug-inspired act by working on a solo career.
After their contentious parting in the 1980s, the duo spent years without working together. In 1992 the two worked together for the first time in several years, voicing characters in the animated film FernGully: The Last Rainforest. In 1997, Chong made an appearance on Marin's TV series Nash Bridges, in an episode entitled "Wild Card", which contained a reference to their iconic "Dave" skit from their 1972 debut album. In 2000 both performers voiced characters in the animated television series South Park for the episode "Cherokee Hair Tampons", but their voices were recorded separately. Both Marin and Chong indicated in a 2003 episode of Biography that they were willing to reunite.
The duo had plans to reunite for another film when Chong's California-based company, Chong's Glass, was raided by federal officials in February 2003, as part of a federal crackdown on "drug-related paraphernalia". In a plea bargain which allowed his son and wife to remain out of jail, Chong pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to distribute drug paraphernalia in May, and in September 2003 was sentenced to nine months in federal prison, fined $20,000, and forced to forfeit $120,000 in assets. He was released in July 2004. His cellmate was Jordan Belfort.
With Chong released, the duo planned to resume production on a reunion film. A variety of titles were rumored, including Grumpy Old Stoners. But they announced in September 2005 that the reunion film had been canceled. Beginning in September 2008, Cheech and Chong reunited for the Light Up America comedy tour which opened in Ottawa, making a radio appearance on The Bob & Tom Show. In March 2009, they recorded two shows at the Majestic Theatre in San Antonio for a DVD release of the reunion tour.
In August 2012, Cheech & Chong appeared at the 13th annual Gathering of the Juggalos in Cave-in-Rock, IL.
In February 2014, Cheech and Chong appeared on an episode of Tom Green Live. In March 2014, they announced they were working on a new movie, with writer/director Jay Chandrasekhar.
Additional notable media appearances
On August 11, 1972, Mayor John Gatti of San Antonio declared August 11, 1972 "Cheech and Chong Day". That night "Cheech" Marin and Tommy Chong performed a set with Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. The duo had just released their second album Big Bambu in June which would earn a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy recording.
On June 28, 2000, Cheech & Chong voiced Chief Running Pinto and Carlos Ramirez in the South Park episode "Cherokee Hair Tampons", Chief Running Pinto and Carlos Ramirez were fake Native American doctors, selling medicine to the town of South Park.
In 2007, Adam Scorgie's marijuana advocacy documentary The Union: The Business Behind Getting High starred Tommy Chong as a commentator about marijuana related issues and for his drug paraphernalia charge in 2003. The film had many other notable names such as former Vancouver mayor Larry Campbell, Canadian marijuana seed retailer Marc Emery, Canadian baking marijuana icon "Watermelon Girl", and other marijuana advocates like Author & Former 'Pot TV' Manager Chris Bennett and former High Times editor Steve Bloom.
On November 5, 2008, Cheech and Chong reunited for a timely message in a video on Funny or Die to encourage people to get out and vote on Wednesday, November 5, the day after the election. The video was titled "Cheech and Chong Get Out the Vote!".
On November 30, 2008, Cheech & Chong were honored during the roast special Cheech & Chong: Roasted on TBS hosted by Brad Garrett which included other guests, among them Chong's wife. The event was filmed at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas during The Comedy Festival.
On April 17, 2009, while on the Sydney leg of their "Cheech and Chong Light Up Australia" Tour, they had to delay the start of their show as it became the target of a drug operation by the New South Wales Police. About 25 police and four drug dogs were involved, searching around 50 people, with six people caught in possession of small amounts of cannabis. On October 24, 2009, Cheech & Chong hosted the main stage at the Smoke Out festival in San Bernardino, California.
On January 25, 2010, Cheech & Chong appeared on Lopez Tonight. During a singing segment they started to perform their song "Mexican Americans", but it turned into "Get It Legal", in reference to their current U.S. tour. On March 1, 2010, Cheech & Chong were the guest hosts of WWE Raw in Oklahoma City. On April 20, 2010 (4/20) Cheech and Chong's Hey, Watch This, the DVD filmed in San Antonio on March 14, 2009 was released.
On March 13, 2011, Cheech & Chong were guest stars on The Simpsons episode "A Midsummer's Nice Dream", where, during a reunion tour, Homer briefly replaced Chong before the pair reconciled.
In September 2011, Cheech & Chong appeared in a viral video posted on YouTube which at first appeared to be a trailer for a (non-existent) upcoming movie titled Cheech & Chong's Magic Brownie Adventure, but which at the end revealed itself to be a commercial for Fiber One 100-calorie snack brownies.
On May 6, 2012, Saturday Night Live did a sketch with Fred Armisen playing Cheech and Bill Hader playing Chong, where a mysterious third partner, played by Eli Manning was performed.
In 2012, actor Tommy Chong revealed to CNN's Don Lemon that he is battling prostate cancer. It is unknown how this will affect any future projects.
On September 28, 2014 were guests of Doug Benson on his podcast "Getting Doug with High".
Cheech and Chong