Cheech & Chong pick up right where they left off

2008-10-07T00:00:00Z Cheech & Chong pick up right where they left offBy Gerald M. Gay arizona daily star Arizona Daily Star
October 07, 2008 12:00 am  • 

Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong were looking their ages at the Tucson stop of their "Light Up America" tour at Casino del Sol's AVA Sunday night.

As they made their way through the opening sketch, a rehash of their classic "Cruisin' with Pedro de Pacas" bit, the two appeared more like the curmudgeonly old balcony Muppets, Statler and Waldorf, than the pot-smoking counterculture comedians of the 1970s and '80s.

Cheech, 62, sat in the driver's seat in his red knit cap, canary yellow shirt and red suspenders, portlier than he was in his youth and with a lot less hair on his face and head.

Chong, who turned 70 in May, sat next to him in a button-down shirt with a marijuana leaf print, blue jeans and red sneakers, his once shaggy black hair and beard now a stately silver.

"Am I driving OK?" Cheech, as Pedro, asked cautiously.

The two characters had just shared an oversized joint on the road.

"I think we're parked, man," Chong replied.

"Well, am I parked OK?" Cheech shot back, his character more confused than ever.

The back-and-forth sent the sold-out crowd, a mix of older hippies and a cult following of youngsters, howling and shouting out lines like a rowdier, more inebriated version of the midnight crowd at a "Rocky Horror Picture Show" screening.

It was the duo's first tour in more than a quarter-century, but you'd never know it. The seasoned performers, who admitted early in the show to watching their old bits on YouTube to get them right for the tour, blazed through an hour-and-a-half set as if they had been doing it for years.

They covered a lot of familiar ground, playing characters such as Blind Melon Chitlin' and "Earache My Eye's" Alice Bowie and performing an encore collection of songs that included "Born in East L.A." and "Up in Smoke."

Most of the evening was well-scripted, with the occasional dash of improv.

During the segment "Let's Make a Dope Deal," Cheech asked Chong to choose one of three prize doors, and Chong hit back with a joke about Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors.

"They don't know who The Doors are, do they?" Chong asked with a laugh, referring to the younger audience members. "Well, the old (ones) do."

The performance was peppered with Chong's own solo stand-up routine as he talked about his reunion with Cheech and his time in federal prison.

Chong spent nine months behind bars in 2003 and 2004 for selling drug paraphernalia over the Internet.

"It is hard to be a tough guy in prison when you are in there for bongs," he explained.

Shelby Chong, Tommy's wife of 33 years and the opening comic for the evening, also talked about her husband's imprisonment.

In a touching moment, Shelby recalled the day the sentencing was handed down.

"I thought, 'Wow. I (screwed) up. I should have married Cheech,' " she said.

Review

Cheech & Chong's "Light Up America" tour at Casino del Sol's AVA Sunday night

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at 573-4137 or ggay@azstarnet.com.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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