Tommy Chong and I were going through tough times back in 1988…
I was working at Stanford’s one night for a headline gig – that’s right – me doing comedy for an hour. I tanked. Sold out show and I blew it. A few nights later Tommy Chong was headlining the club. He also was off his game. Tommy was battling the loss of Cheech Marin, his longtime stage partner and film co star. I was in town for a five day furlough from federal prison.
My pal Seth Jaffe had warned me NOT TO DO MY PRISON bits.
I didn’t listen, because when I did stand up for the entire joint it killed. Well, they get all those jokes, the public, uh, not so much. Had I done my regular stuff, who knows? Maybe I would have become a stand up comic. But I felt so bad about it, that I quit doing stand up.
Dumb ass me. Chong. to his credit kept pushing the ball uphill.
We met for a bit to eat after Chong’s show. Like everyone, I was a Cheech and Chong fan. The guy looked fantastic, had to be around 50 plus. He was built, tan, had a sleevless shirt on with his guitar slung over his back. Very cool. We talked about his show, and Tommy had been looking for a "little Mexican" sidekick.
He’d offered the job to a couple young comics like Carlos Mencia and Pablo, but they’d said no. So Tommy had an idea to co star with his wife, Shelby. It sounded odd, but in time it worked. He made the right call.
I became good friends with the Chongs over the years that followed.
We had so many strange days and nights. Like the time Shelby thought my brothers Jeff and Jack stole the t-shirts that they sell. We found them at the other club a few months later When we were in Vegas one time, Chong, Bobcat Goldthwait and Shelby and Nikki Cox( the beautiful co star of UNHAPPILY EVER AFTER and later LAS VEGAS). Shelby and Bobcat got into an argument and I had to choose sides – I ended up in the green room with the Chongs. Funny times.
I helped the Chongs get a great agent in Matt Blake at CAA (my agent and a great guy). Then Tommy’s career took off again with THAT 70’s SHOW, talk shows, TV and nice paydays at clubs and casinos.
Then came my arrest here in 2001 and his a year later.
Yikes, troubled times. Chong for autographing bongs (BFD) and me for snorting coke that was represented as me running the rackets in KC. Yeah, right. Tommy got a few months in prison and I got six months in a halfway house.
When Chong was in custody I hired Shelby to do the "Free Tommy Chong Tour," co starring my pal from KC Steve Kramer (as Chong). They did Kansas City and it went fairly well. I wrote to Tommy all the time when he was in prison and he wrote back.
When Tommy got out, it all went crazy good for him. A book, Showtime Special and THE TONIGHT SHOW with Leno and of course Cheech. Yes, it resulted in a two-year tour of CHEECH AND CHONG. Man, it smoked – big time. They sold out 100 shows, including the Midland here in 2009.
Tommy even had me and my posse backstage after the show here – nobody else. I met Cheech, nice guy. "Hey wheres my book?" Cheech said. Since both Tommy and I had one out – Cheech didn’t have one yet.
My wife, Connie and I – yes, I was married back then – visited Shelby in LA a couple times when Tommy was away. I consider the Chongs some of my best friends in this selfish business of entertainment. Good people.
ONE MORE TIME.
So the Chongs will do one comedy club this year together. Stanford and Sons on August 12 and 13th.
That’s four shows on Friday and Saturday only. Tickets are now on sale over by telephone or at our boxoffice at Legends. Yes, they will meet and greet everyone, sign autographs (they couldn’t do that at the Midland) and sell T-shirts and the like.
But NO BONGS. See you there!