Cheech & Chong
Light Up Canada Tour
Friday, December 5, 2008
Queen Elizabeth Theatre
Vancouver, BC Canada
***Live Review & All Photos By Lord of The Wasteland
I remember as a young kid seeing my older cousin’s LP of Cheech & Chong’s BIG BAMBU and, for whatever reason, being completely mesmerized by it. I was maybe 7 or 8 years old, far too young to realize or understand what these two were all about: drugs. As the years passed, I saw a few of Cheech & Chong’s movies—UP IN SMOKE, STILL SMOKIN’ and THE CORSICAN BROTHERS—and came to enjoy the pair’s cotton-mouthed humor. Never being a drug user, I suppose I never really got to the root of what Cheech & Chong were about, plus I came about fifteen years too late, as their message was paramount to the early seventies: anti-war, pro-drug, free love. Liberal hedonism at it’s finest.
Fast-forward to 2008 and, as a person in his mid-thirties, I remember many of the skits that Cheech & Chong performed to this day with fond memories. There is no denying the fact that Cheech & Chong are legends. Their controversial act was on par with that of George Carlin and Lenny Bruce in terms of shock factor and ground-breaking influence for the next generation of comics. People love Cheech & Chong and hold their classic material in high (pardon the pun) regard. The 2,500-strong that filled the Queen Elizabeth Theatre for the first of two sold-out shows certainly got their smoke on, with clouds of pot smoke billowing over top of the crowd, and gave Cheech & Chong the reception normally reserved for rock stars, not a pair of self-described geriatric “stoners.”
Shelby Chong, who is Tommy Chong’s wife, opened the show with a 15-minute standup routine that offered little more than a reason for the crowd to heckle her off the stage. It had been 27 years since Cheech & Chong last performed live, so despite a sea of red eyes, the fans wanted to get right to the good stuff. Cheech Marin immediately appeared and launched into the pair’s classic routine from UP IN SMOKE where they first meet and Chong proceeds to get Cheech stoned with a massive joint. The theme never deviated much from there, either, as Chong gave pro-marijuana speeches and discussed his bust on bong charges and subsequent incarceration while the next bit was set up. This was far from bad standup, too, with some guy trying to wring laughs out of a bored crowd with tired lines and bad jokes (Shelby Chong managed to do that). With little more than two chairs to use as props, Cheech & Chong’s live show is performance art at its most base level. Theatre for the common man, in other words. “Old Man In The Park,” “Let’s Make A Dope Deal,” “Ralph and Herbie,” “Blind Melon Chitlin’,” “Hey Margaret,” “Earache My Eye,” “Born In East L.A.,” “Up In Smoke” and “Mexican Americans” all drew rave responses from the crowd eager to hear the pair revisit their classic material.
Even though the drug humor still doesn’t do much for me, I can appreciate Cheech & Chong’s role in popular culture and what they did for comedy. It was nice to see Cheech & Chong in person—something I never assumed would happen—and relive some moments that brought back great memories for me and everyone else in the crowd. Not seeing “Dave” or “Sgt. Stadanko” was a bit surprising but for 75 minutes, Cheech & Chong defied their age and the times by bringing everyone in the crowd back to their friends’ bedroom, sneaking tokes off bad weed while snickering to the records your parents wouldn’t let you hear. Good times.
***Thanks to Jessica at Live Nation for the press pass.
Cheech & Chong—Official Site