This Friday, Cheech and Chong make a rare appearance at the Arlington Theatre as part of their Get It Legal tour. It’s been decades since such characters as Basketball Jones and Alice Bowie emerged from the counter-cultural stew via the heads of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong. Recently, Chong has become prominent in connection with the campaign to legalize cannabis. (The tour takes its name from Chong’s determination to remain a spokesperson for change in the movement.) Back in 2003, Chong pled guilty to federal charges of selling drug paraphernalia (water pipes) via the Internet. I spoke with Chong recently by phone about his experience, and about what to expect from the duo’s show at the Arlington.
You went to prison for nine months for selling glassware on the Internet. What did that mean to you? I like to think I did more to expose the weakness of the system than anything else. I definitely didn’t do anything that I couldn’t feel good about in terms of the business I was in with my family. I see the charges that I pled to as having been piggybacked on antagonism toward my public position on cannabis, rather than being major crimes of some kind in their own right. The object was to intimidate me, but I never lied, and I took the sentence and did the time because I believed in what I was doing.
What can we expect from the show? My wife, Shelby, opens for us. She’s an excellent standup comedian, and she introduces us in such a way that we come out to a standing ovation. Then Cheech and I almost do a talk show, where we take questions from the audience. Then there are sketches and standup, of course, and I also get to play some guitar. There’s a big sing-along—kind of like Seals & Crofts. Cheech’s son, Joey, is our music director. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, really. Don’t expect to see us back next year.
Cheech and Chong hit the Arlington Theatre this Friday, March 5, at 8 p.m. Call 963-4408 or visit thearlingtontheatre.com for tickets.