On this episode of The Story & Craft Podcast, we sit down with comedian, musician, actor, writer, director, entrepreneur and cannabis advocate, Tommy Chong. It’s a great chat where we touch on his career on stage and screen, his comedy partnership with Cheech Marin and the ups and downs of being a cannabis advocate. It’s an insightful look into how Tommy crafted a career as a backing man, but has always tried to lead by example. We also take a few detours to chat about George Carlin, Tommy’s philosophies on American culture and even a chance encounter with John Lennon. It’s a cool tour into the mind of the legend and cultural icon that is Tommy Chong.
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Comedian | Actor | Writer | Director | Entrepreneur | Cannabis Advocate
Grammy Award winning comedian Tommy Chong is legendary for his invaluable contribution to American counter-culture as part of the iconic comedy duo Cheech & Chong. During their reign, the twosome recorded six gold comedy albums, including the 1973 Grammy winner “Los Cochinos,” and starred in eight films, most of which Chong co-wrote and directed. The first, Up In Smoke, was the highest grossing comedy of 1978, topping $100 million at the box office. Others were Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie (1980), Nice Dreams (1981), Things Are Tough All Over (1982), Cheech and Chong: Still Smoking (1983), and The Corsican Brothers (1984). Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Tommy began his entertainment career as a musician in a Canadian-based rhythm and blues band. Eventually, he landed a gig with the “Vancouvers”” and co-wrote the band’s 1960’s hit, “Does Your Mama Know About Me.”” From here, Chong eventually turned towards the life as an actor. The first step was forming “City Works,” an improvisational group where he consequently met his future comedic partner, Richard “Cheech” Marin. Throughout the 1970’s Cheech & Chong earned a massive following until eventually, the duo had run its lengthy and prosperous course and they both embarked on solo careers. Tommy has appeared in several films including 1990’s “Far Out, Man!”” and “National Lampoon’s Senior Trip” (1995). Chong has also starred, most notably, as “Leo” on Fox’s “That 70’s Show,” and has guest starred on ABC’s “Dharma & Greg” and “The George Lopez Show.” Chong recently released his new book entitled Cheech and Chong: The Unauthorized Autobiography about the exploits of the infamous duo’s smoke-filled world. This book serves as a follow-up to his New York Times Best-Seller The I Chong: Meditations from the Joint which chronicles Chong’s arrest for shipping bongs across the country as well as his days in jail and the humorous encounters of his 9 month prison stint. Earlier this year, the highly anticipated, award winning documentary A/K/A Tommy Chong was released worldwide. The documentary features the journey that Chong took after a fully armed SWAT team raided the comedian’s home in February of 2003. Tommy Chong was sentenced to 9 months in federal prison for conspiracy to manufacture and distribute drug paraphernalia through “Chong Glass,” a family business specializing in handmade glass water pipes, or “bongs.” Making history this year, Tommy Chong reunited with his old comedy partner, Richard “Cheech” Marin to announce their first tour in over 25 years with Shelby Chong opening the show. The “Cheech & Chong: Light Up America & Canada” tour has proven to be one of the most successful comedy tours of the year, selling out multiple shows from coast to coast.