DTLA – Richard “Cheech” Marin and Tommy Chong were ahead of the curve. Their 1978 movie Up In Smoke became the standard that stoner comedies strive to meet. Then there’s the fact that, decades after they showcased their unabashed love of marijuana on film, recreational pot is legal in California and several other states.
The pair, and the film, are known for mixing intricate jokes and wordplay with a loose attitude. That style is on display at Downtown Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum, where the exhibit Cheech and Chong: Still Rollin’ — Celebrating 40 Years of Up in Smoke just debuted. The show collects memorabilia related to the movie, along with other paraphernalia detailing Cheech and Chong’s time as comedy and cultural icons. It opened, naturally, on April 20, and runs through next spring.
That’s not bad for two guys who spent their time celebrating the parts of Los Angeles that in the ’70s weren’t on any tourist maps. Their routine celebrated Chicano and counterculture life and informed much of the world about the community of East L.A., which they showcased in Up In Smoke.
“It was an offshoot of our albums. We were taking people on journeys, with their minds. With this, we could do it visually, and L.A. is such a visual forest,” Chong told Los Angeles Downtown News during an opening event for the exhibit. “That’s why people keep coming back to it. It’s not just a movie that made you laugh. It was where you learned something.”
Cheech and Chong may be well-known now, but at a Q&A event for the exhibit’s opening, they recalled the days when they were struggling to break through. The duo recounted meeting up in the early 1970s at a strip bar in Vancouver, Canada, to talk comedy. Chong was looking to expand the improv programming at the venue, while Cheech, as he put it, was resisting the draft and being sent to Vietnam, and also striving to develop a set.
That became the basis for their act, and soon they were rolling, building a routine rooted in pot, Chicano culture and the American counterculture movement. That led to the 1978 film Up in Smoke. The movie had it all: adaptations of some of their famous bits, rock and roll, Southern California and a van made from pot.
To Read The Rest Of This Article By Donnell Alexander on Capital & Main
Published: May 2, 2018
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News