Cheech and Chong to perform at Keswick Theatre

Richard “Cheech” Mar­in and Tommy Chong

More than four dec­ades have passed since Richard “Cheech” Mar­in and Tommy Chong ap­peared in a cloud of smoke on the na­tion­al stage tak­ing their ir­rev­er­ent, satir­ic­al, coun­ter­cul­ture, marijuana-addled life­style to audi­ences every­where.

And now the good times con­tin­ue when the com­edy duo take cen­ter stage for one night of laughs at the Keswick Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 27, at 7:30 p.m.

After meet­ing in Canada in 1969, the two men tried to form a band at first, but had too much fun telling jokes, and even­tu­ally their long-last­ing com­edy part­ner­ship was formed. By the time they ar­rived in Los Angeles, they found a pro­du­cer and the in­spir­a­tion for nine hit com­edy al­bums and eight films that broke box of­fice re­cords, shattered com­edy al­bums sales and garnered mul­tiple Grammy nom­in­a­tions.

“I ori­gin­ally star­ted out to be a mu­si­cian,” Chong said dur­ing a re­cent phone in­ter­view. “I had been watch­ing a Peter Sellers movie, one I hadn’t seen be­fore, and thought he must be the finest com­ic of the cen­tury. He also star­ted out in mu­sic.

“As a mat­ter of fact,” Chong con­tin­ued, “mu­si­cians have a beau­ti­ful sense of tim­ing, and com­edy is all about tim­ing. I don’t know too many comedi­ans who don’t also have a love or tal­ent for mu­sic be­cause they are so in­ter­twined.”

With his early years filled with mu­sic, Chong worked as a busi­ness­man and pro­moter, launch­ing ca­reers and per­form­ing in suc­cess­ful bands that had Jimi Hendrix per­form­ing with him.

“But grow­ing up, I also saw my­self as an in­stig­at­or. I loved to laugh and be en­ter­tained, and would of­ten get friends to do things while I stood on the side­lines. In our movies, I tend to do the same thing with Cheech,” he re­membered. 

Chong, 75, con­siders him­self “street smart.” But as for Mar­in, 67, Chong claims he has an IQ on the geni­us level.

“Cheech is like the Rain Man. He re­mem­bers everything. Once, he ap­peared on Jeop­ardy and blew all the oth­ers away. He left An­der­son Cooper in the dust. He’s also a well-known art col­lect­or and is thought to own one of the biggest private col­lec­tions in the world.”

And while it may have been their dif­fer­ences that first brought them to­geth­er, it may have been the thing that also drew them apart. After a con­ten­tious part­ing in the 1980s, the duo had a less-than-stel­lar friend­ship, al­though after a few false starts, the pair has now suc­cess­fully re­united. In 2008, audi­ences were de­lighted when the le­gendary Cheech & Chong came to­geth­er after more than two dec­ades apart and em­barked on their “Light Up Amer­ica “ tour.

“For me, the break­up was very dif­fi­cult,” Chong said. “It was like a shock to my nervous sys­tem, but even­tu­ally it all worked out. It forced me to put one step for­ward and be my­self. I had nev­er been the lead­er in my bands, on stage or any­where else. It took a couple of years, but I fi­nally got the hang of it.”

All in all, Chong said the time apart has al­lowed their ma­gic to evolve, and there’s no sign these two are slow­ing down any­time soon. More films are in the works, and they are act­ively pur­su­ing their own hob­bies.

“After suf­fer­ing from can­cer, the doc­tors say I’m OK now. I’ve changed my diet, ex­er­cise, and did lots of oth­er things they told me to do. I also smoked pot. And as I look around today and see the new po­s­i­tions on pot, I won­der if after all this time we were right. What if it turns out that it’s ac­tu­ally good for you. Who knows.”

For times and tick­et in­form­a­tion, call 215-572-7650. ••

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