Cheech And Chong Recall Struggles Before Becoming Cannabis Icons

When it comes to cannabis icons, Cheech Marin - who turns 70 today - should need no introduction. The comedian has appeared in classic stoner comedies like Up in Smoke (1978) and released several comedy albums with his partner-in-crime Tommy Chong, who helped make Cheech and Chong the Abbott and Costello of marijuana lore.

But it wasn't always that way. The two once struggled just like any other aspiring comedians. In a 1974 interview, Cheech and Chong recalled some of their early struggles.

"Our first gig as a duo was a 5,000 person rock concert," said Cheech.

"We were unannounced," Chong chimed in. "And nothing is worse than an unannounced comedian. 'Alright, kids, everybody stop. We're going to have some funny guys up here.' [But] two minutes later, we had 'em."

And despite their reputation as incorrigible stoners, they said that they only smoked pot before a show in certain circumstances.

"Only when we're comfortable," said Chong. "Two reasons we'll get stoned: if we need to catch up with the audience...or it's the opposite," meaning that the audience is so square that they need to cut loose to cope with the stiff reception.

In the same interview, Cheech offered a surprising revelation about his dad. When the duo was asked what their parents thought of their career, Marin said, "My dad loves it. My dad's a cop....He's LAPD, been on the force for 25 years. And he loves it. It's made him a hero with all the kids. 'It's Cheech's old man - REALLY?!?'" he added, impersonating some of the kids that have had run ins with Officer Marin.

Check out the full interview - including Chong's classic response to why they like marijuana - in the clip below.

Banner image: Napa, CA/USA - 5/26/16: Cheech and Chong perform at the Uptown Theater in Napa, CA as a part of the 4th annual BottleRock festival. (Sterling Munksgard /


With northern California's renowned cannabis festival, the Emerald Cup coming up next month, we're reflecting on all the fun we had last year with cannabis influencer Elise McRoberts interviewing Herbie Herbert, a former Santana roadie and manger for Journey, as well as Steve Parish, who managed the Jerry Garcia Band and went on the road with the Grateful Dead. Back int he day, bands touring the world had to smuggle their cannabis into Europe and other foreign countries. Traveling with equipment and other gear, roadies would have to find secret places to hide the stash.

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