This Is How Cheech And Chong Met

Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong, the comedic duo known for their love of weed and women, met in Vancouver, British Columbia, in the late 1960s at the most appropriate of places, a nightclub that was evolving into a comedy club that boasted topless women in some of their acts. The club belonged to Chong and his brother, Stan, with their parents being involved as well. Chong explained to Cannabis Culture that Stan had been operating the club as a topless joint while Chong had been in the U.S. for a few years working as a Motown musician. 

However, near the end of that stint, Chong had an epiphany. "One night in Chicago when we weren't playing a gig, I wandered into an improvisational comedy club called Second City and the experience changed my life," he told Cannabis Culture.

Chong knew he wanted to get into comedy, so when he went back to Canada, he went to work transforming the club into a comedy venue. But rather than fire the girls working there, he decided to incorporate them into the comedy.

"I didn't have the heart to fire the strippers when I took over, so when I turned the show into a comedy troupe known as 'City Works,' I put the girls in the skits," Chong said. "We had the only topless improvisational theater in Canada, and it was a total family affair." It was in those early days of Chong getting into comedy that Cheech Marin walked into his life.

Cheech was delivering carpets when he met Chong

Tommy Chong told Cannabis Culture, "One day, a Hispanic guy delivering carpets next door came into the club. He was fast and funny, and tired of laying carpets, so I offered him $5 a week more than he was getting laying rugs. His name was Cheech Marin, and he was now making $60 a week as a member of City Works."

Marin told a version of that story to Access Hollywood in 2017. He said when the met they were trying to figure each other out. In a Youtube clip of the interview, Marin said, "I was looking at him, saying, 'What are you, a Mongolian biker?' You know, it was like weird because he was half Chinese, half English, Irish, and Canadian with long hair — hippie — and like in those days he looked at me and he never seen a Chicano before. He was thinking the same thing."

Marin had experience as a singer, so with Chong's music background, the duo approached comedy with music in mind, Marin told Access Hollywood. Cheech and Chong honed their comedy over the next several months. As their act progressed, Chong told Cannabis Culture, "I could see more and more a future in this kind of stand-up duo performance."

Cheech and Chong were in the right place at the right time

Cheech and Chong emerged around the same time as the anti-Vietnam War, counter-cultural revolution was ramping up, and the two quickly found an audience. According to Biography, their act combined comedy that played off of their ethnic backgrounds as well as heavily leaning into the stoner culture of the day. That mix of material became their calling card and their popularity grew steadily. They also expanded their audience by performing at colleges and as an opening act for rock bands (via Encyclopedia).

By the early 1970s, the duo took their act into the recording studio which brought them even more attention with the release of hit comedy albums like 1971s self-titled "Cheech and Chong" and their 1972 follow-up effort "Big Bambu." Not only did their comedy albums sell well, but they received critical acclaim and even scored the pair a Grammy award. They then parlayed their audio success into what would become a big-screen cult classic with the release of their film "Up In Smoke" in 1978, which managed to gross over $100 million.

Cheech and Chong eventually had a falling out

Cheech and Chong saw immense success together but at a certain point, their relationship began to fray. According to The New York Post, Cheech Marin wrote in his 2017 memoir "Cheech Is Not My Real Name: ...But Don't Call Me Chong," that at some point after the pair had churned out several movies things took a turn between the comedians. Marin said that he felt as though Chong was struggling with balancing his perception of his public persona with the successful character he had crafted, known as the Man.

"He wanted to be recognized for what he perceived his persona to be rather than for the Man character, but he would only play the Man character, so it was tough on him," Marin said. However, Marin, did note that any issues the two had with each other never affected their performances. 

Cheech and Chong eventually broke up, though they did reunite in 2008 following a prison stint for Chong after he was arrested for selling bongs online after one was sent over state lines (via Daily Mail). Marin said in his 2017 interview with The New York Post that the relationship between him and his comedy partner was going well. According to Ticket Master, the iconic comedians continue to do occasional live performances.