Cheech and Chong: Still Performin’

by Lexi Foldenauer

February 11, 7:30 pm., the doors opened at the Mt. Baker Theatre for the lucky ticket-holders of the sold out performance of an epic duo. Richard “Cheech” Marin, 63 and Tommy Chong, 71 are back together again, following a 30-year hiatus from performing. “Get it Legal” is the follow-up to their hugely successful reunion tour, “Light Up America.” The show not only promoted the overly anticipated return of the dynamic duo, but focused heavily on the current marijuana laws in the United States.

The curtain opened with the lovely Shelby Chong, Chong’s petite blonde Canadian-born wife, talking about their 30-year matrimony.

“I deserve a gold medal or something!” she joked.

After an animated and entertaining introduction by Shelby, followed by a thunderous applause and standing ovation by the audience, Cheech and Chong came out on stage. The show began with a question-and-answer sequence, a contribution by KISM radio, as sort of an appetizer. One fan asked Cheech why he got rid of his trademark beard. Chong quickly chimed in, “Yeah, and he got rid of his hair too!” pointing out Cheech’s noticeable balding. After a few questions from fans, it was time for the good stuff—the skits.

The stage went dark momentarily, then the lights came on and Cheech appeared, dressed in a familiar fedora and trench coat, with a pink flowered backpack on his shoulder.

“It’s me Dave, open up, man, I got the stuff,” said Cheech.

“Dave’s not here man,” echoed the dazed-sounding voice of Tommy Chong in the background.

The audience roared in laughter, as the two performed the famous “Dave’s not here” bit, nearly word for word. I found it amazing how, even after all of these years and countless performances, the pair still feed off each other’s comedic strengths and energy to deliver a memorable act for their audience. The show was nothing short of nostalgic, and the skits ranged everywhere from Cheech’s giggly and somewhat spastic red-neck character, which is my personal favorite, to “World Jerk-off Championships,” in which they added a reference to Bellingham!

“I found him wandering down the main street here in Bellingham today,” Cheech said as he stood next to Chong, dressed up like a demented elderly bum, with his hand creepily hidden under a tattered coat. 

After performing a couple of sketches together, Chong came out on stage to do a stand-up routine on his own. He went into a humorous trip down memory lane, recalling times of smoking joints with famous rock stars, and his involvement with Motown. It took me a minute to understand that he was serious, as this followed his impression of a crazy senile hobo, and a performance with Cheech of “Basketball Jones.” Chong’s ability to connect with the audience made it feel like you were sitting in his living room having a chat, rather than being in a crowded theater. This guy would make a really cool grandpa.

A pivotal moment of the performance was when Cheech came out in his pink tutu with Mickey Mouse ears and faux body tattoos, with an electric guitar in hand, screaming some sort of metal/punk sounding jumble in a skit called “Earache my Eye.” The character is named “Alice Bowie”—a combination of Alice Cooper and David Bowie. I started crying I was laughing so hard.

 The two closed the performance on a more serious note, putting out their message to loosen the drug laws in our country. They performed a song titled after the tour called “Get it Legal,” which included lyrics about pot’s medicinal purposes for illnesses like M.S. and cancer.  That really got the audience fired up, in a good way. Aside from their wacky, out-there humor, the two are actually very talented musicians, and the song had some powerful lyrics.

The show lasted two hours, which seemed like the perfect amount of time—I don’t know if my jaw could handle much more uncontrollable giggling. After the show was finished, I felt satisfied, and knew that I would remember this performance forever— that time I saw Cheech and Chong live. I feel honored to have witnessed, in the flesh, the living legends that will forever remain the faces of stoner culture. It was a night of epic proportions that will surely be hard to top.

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