Cheech & Chong, Then and Now: Young Stoner Comics Who Grew Up

By | September 28, 2017

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Comedy team Cheech (Left) and Chong photographed while touring Australia in 1974. (Photo by Trevor James Robert Dallen/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).

In the 1970s, comedy acts didn't get much bigger than the whacked-out duo of Cheech & Chong. Stoner comedy was a natural consequence of the time -- with such an explosion of marijuana and LSD use in the late 1960s, the freewheeling counterculture was bound to spawn an act that played on its own druggy excesses and ridiculousness. As outsider comics, young Richard "Cheech" Marin and Tommy Chong captured the relatable stoner -- those guys everyone seemed to know in the early '70s who'd fried their brains and permanently lost touch with reality. Cheech and Chong's drug comedy shtick made them massively famous, with top-ten albums, hit singles, movies, and of course sold-out comedy shows.

Cheech And Chong Were Stoners With Artistic Ambition

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Cheech and Chong in 'Up In Smoke,' 1978. Source: IMDB

In 1967 at the age of 21, after graduating from California State University with a writing degree, and during the uproar surrounding the Vietnam War, Cheech Marin fled the United States to avoid the draft. (His nickname "Cheech" is derived from "chicharron," a fried pork-skin dish that originated in Soain and is enjoyed throughout Latin America.) He ended up in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where he put his writing degree to use as a record reviewer with a Canadian music magazine. Marin knew deep down that music and entertainment was not only in his soul but would also be his destiny. During the course of his job at the magazine, Marin was introduced to musician Tommy Chong, which was the start of an epic friendship and an infamous career.