Tommy Chong's career doing time in the joint
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
By Wayne Harada
The original Puff Daddy, Tommy Chong, is 68 — and proud to admit it.
The comedian, and father of actress Rae Dawn Chong, is a senior citizen who credits his diehard fans for his lingering popularity.
"They're like me; they get older, but they never grow up," he said.
Chong stars in "The Marijuana-Logues," a play he's been touring for a year, at the Blaisdell Concert Hall tonight.
"I'm enjoying the experience of doing a play," he said in a phone interview from an Annapolis, Md., stop before his trek to the Islands. "What's nice is that the authors allow me the opportunity to stray. It's theater, so there's a script; but I do get off (track) a little bit."
The work, by Arj Barker, Doug Benson and Tony Camin, boasts a clever title — a take-off on Eve Ensler's rant-and-rap "The Vagina Monologues."
"I saw a bit of 'Vagina Monologues,' but I'm a man who's an admirer of the substance, not an owner. With 'Marijuana,' I'm totally at home. With the language, too." The expletives are undeleted, so leave the kids at home.
The play, also featuring co-authors Benson and Camin, is a foray into joints, high-jinks and drug culture, all in fun. It's somewhat of a contemporary companion to "Up in Smoke," Chong's and former comedy partner Richard "Cheech" Marin's landmark 1978 film that defined a generation of potheads and launched the Cheech and Chong franchise.
"We're infamous," said Chong, reflecting on those dazed days.
Drugs, he said, never incapacitated the duo or dulled their performances. "That's why we were a success: We could organize, we could manage; it was like reflecting where the audiences were, too — like holding up a mirror. We had good times."
Chong co-wrote and directed many of the Cheech and Chong movies.
"I look back in amazement," he said. "We got away with it, for all these years. I often think of what Lenny Bruce once said, that pot will be legal by the '60s because so many lawyers were into it. But it's more illegal now than it's ever been."
Does he still indulge?
"Like (President) Clinton, I believe in 'don't ask, don't tell,' " he said.
In 2003, he was fined and served nine months in prison for marketing allegedly drug-related paraphernalia, specifically bongs with the tag Chong Glass, over the Internet.
"I paid my dues," said Chong about jail time, which inspired a book, "The I Chong: Meditations from the Joint," due in August.
Chong, who is Chinese (his dad) and Scottish-Irish (his mom), said he draws from his roots in his comedy. "I suppose all that diversity makes me an honorary Hawaiian citizen," he said of his mixed-plate ethnicity. "I'm also addicted to dim sum, every now and then, so I go for Chinese food in Los Angeles," where he lives.
Yes, he's collecting Social Security. "Like everyone else, I wait for the check every month," said Chong. "If it's late, I'll phone and ask, 'Where's my check?' "
Besides touring with "The Marijuana-Logues," Tommy Chong has had a lot on his plate recently:
Reach Wayne Harada at email@example.com.