As one-half of comedy’s best-known counter-cultural duos, Tommy Chong has worn many hats, including musician, actor, director, weed advocate and even lawbreaker. He reunites with his performing partner Cheech Marin to bring the Cheech and Chong show to the Seneca Niagara Casino Nov. 26.
Last week, Chong spoke by phone as he was leaving “a little hippy community” in Oregon back to his Los Angeles. He has been traveling around promoting his “Chong’s Choice” brand of Cannabis.
“We find the best growers (of Cannabis),” he said. “It’s all personally tested, so I’m busy 24 hours a day testing it.”
While marijuana is only legal for medical use in New York State, Chong feels the legalization movement is snowballing across the country.
“It’s a growth industry,” he said. “It goes right across all lines. It helps old ladies with menopause, babies with epilepsy, teenagers staying off of alcohol. There are so many uses and we’re just finding out about it. In the election, it was really the only thing we could agree about.”
His comedy team with Marin has been entertaining audiences for decades, including hit movies and comedy albums. Chong attributes the success of the duo by adapting their personas to fit the times.
“Our show’s like vaudeville,” Chong said. “You do the same show over and over again until you do it to perfection, then you hone in current events. We stayed up-to-date about what’s going on in the world in the context of being Cheech and Chong. That’s why we’re still popular.”
Of his comedy partner, Chong called Marin “the sharpest mind in the business.” Marin is recognized for his roles outside the comedy team, including films like “Tin Cup,” “Spy Kids,” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico,” and television roles on “Nash Bridges” and “Lost.”
“He’s very smart and pretty predictable, pretty much the opposite of me,” Chong said of Marin. “That’s why we get along so well.”
As the Cheech and Chong team adapt to current events, the election of Donald J. Trump to the presidency is sure to make their stage show at the casino.
“It’s kind of exciting because it’s funny how Donald Trump trolled us all very good,” Chong said. “I’ve found a positive outlook on it. It’s a lot of fun. In fact, I love what’s going on. It’s like ‘The Apprentice’ got picked up for four more years.”
Although Chong supported Hillary Clinton, he admits that a Trump presidency offers more material for entertainment.
“We would have been in a world of trouble if Hillary Clinton got elected as far as entertainment and comedy goes, because there’s nothing really interesting there,” he said. “When Michele Obama said, ‘When they go low, we go high.’ But up high? There aren’t a lot of people there. Everybody’s down low, including Cheech and Chong.”
Chong’s life and career has taken many different routes, but now that he’s feeling healthy after two recent cancer scares, the 78-year-old is just taking it one day at a time.
“That’s why I relate to Trump, because he takes on one task at a time,” he said. “That’s what I’ve always done in my life: being able to focus on one thing at a time, be it being in jail sweeping floors or directing a movie for Paramount. A lot of people make the mistake of living in the past or future, and thanks to weed, I’ve managed to barely exist in the present.”
Who: Cheech and Chong
Where: Seneca Niagara Casino Events Center
When: 8 p.m. Nov. 26