Chong smokes Park Lane Pavilion with high times
KEYSTONE -“Man, what is this stuff?””It’s mostly Maui-Wowy man, but it’s got some Labrador in it.”If you missed out on the Maui-Wowy-Labrador mix of humor in the 1970s with Cheech and Chong classics, it’s not too late. The still-smokin’ half of Cheech and Chong, Tommy Chong, updates the laid-back pothead giggles of the ’70s with current situations, touring the country with his hippie humor.”It’s really a stoner, vaudevillian type of show,” Chong said. “Vaudeville was aimed for people with a short attention span.”Chong packs his pipe – I mean show – with comedy, dance and song. His wife, Shelby Chong, lights up the audience with real-life stories about being married to a stoner, raising a family and trying to stay young-looking in Hollywood.”The female audience really appreciates it,” Tommy Chong said. “She’s very honest. She gives the female audience a whole different perspective that guys, in our wildest dreams, can’t even think of.”Though they have been together for more than 30 years, Shelby and Tommy just became officially hitched a few weeks ago. This time the groom didn’t drop acid, as he had 30-odd years ago during their unofficial wedding in Hawaii.The newlyweds are the George and Gracie for stoners, with Tommy Chong smoking a big joint instead of a cigar during the gig.”Comedy comes from extremes,” Tommy Chong said. “It’s really finding all the embarrassing things about yourself (and exposing them). We’ll just change your life forever, if you’re ready. You’ll get a glimpse at two people who bare their soul.””Their performance is like speaking directly to the audience,” publicist Brandie Knight said. “A lot of the comedy comes directly from their life. The audience is getting an inside look at their life. He’s upfront about who he is.””There’s a lot of depth to what I am and what I do,” Tommy Chong said. “I’m like that outlaw that never OD’d. If John Belushi or Richard Pryor hadn’t OD’d, they’d be doing the same thing I am.”Tommy Chong, now in his early 60s, has kept up his weed-toking lifestyle by working out and, for the last couple of years, practicing Bikram’s yoga, contorting his body in a sauna for hour-and-a-half stints.”You don’t have to smoke every day,” Tommy Chong said. “The key to drug use is you’ve got to keep your body in real good shape if you’re going to abuse your body.”Chong’s health-regimen has kept him active touring, as well as playing his regular role as Leo on the hit series, “That ’70s Show,” making him a favorite of many Generation ers.”Leo is really me,” he said. “In order to be funny, you have to be stupid. I’m stupid in a very clever way.”I could be superficial, but that’s not me,” he said. “I raised like a jazz musician, and that’s the way I live my life. You’ve got to be cool. Pot makes you introspective. It brings those creative spirits into your soul. It’s the loss of ego. That’s why potheads are such easy targets for the cops. You can’t be devious on pot. It’s like a truth serum.”Truth be told, Tommy Chong is still coming to grips with his breakup with Richard “Cheech” Marin, and he’s writing a book on their relationship. The duo formed in 1969, when Chong was looking for a straight-arrow man and found Marin – short “cop haircut” and all. Together they recorded six gold comedy albums and starred in seven films, from “Up in Smoke” in 1978 to “Cheech & Chong’s “The Corsican Brothers'” in 1984.They split up in 1985 when Marin remarried and went his own way in films and television, including a role as a straight-arrow cop in “Nash Bridges” with Don Johnson.”We’ve just been offered a big movie, but there’s a lot of weirdness going on,” Tommy Chong said. “I’m trying to come to grips with it. If I can get him back to my mindset (and off of) the Geraldo Rivera school of hypocrisy where you smoke but don’t want you’re kids to smoke (then we have a shot).”Until then, the Chong team will pass its high times to audiences nationwide.”A big thing that I feel keeps his fans very loyal is he’s fan-oriented,” Knight said. “He’s a people person. He meets and greets each fan (after the show) until the last one is gone.””We come out and sell merchandise,” Tommy Chong said. “While they’re there talking, they might as well be handing me some money.”To get a glimpse of the Chongs, take a VW bus or low rider to the Park Lane Pavilion at 8 p.m. Saturday (doors open at 6:30 p.m.). Tickets are $22.50 in advance for general admission, $27.50 for preferred seating in the first five rows and $25 the day of the show. They may be purchased by calling (970) 496-4FUN.Tommy Chong also will make a special appearance at High Altitude II in Frisco at 2 p.m. Sunday.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at email@example.com.—Tommy Chong- When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7- Where: Park Lane Pavilion, Keystone
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