Cheech & Chong are back, man. The iconic stoner-comedy duo made up of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong famously reunited after decades apart in 2008, and things went well enough that they've hit the road again. Their aptly-titled Joint Venture Tour rolls (get it?) into the Straz Center on Saturday.
We caught up with Tommy Chong on Election Day, and he was more than happy to talk about voting for Barack Obama, comedy in the computer age and smoking with the Beatles.
Q: So the guy I sit next to at TBO.com is named Tim Chong. Any chance you have a long-lost Tampa relative?
A: Is he rich? Has he got any money?
Q: Uh, I don't know. He works on a local news website like me.
A: Oh, so he's destitute then. No, no Tampa relatives then. You know, being a Chinese name, Chongs tend to get around.
Q: Today is Election Day. Did you get out and vote?
A: Not yet, but I'm gonna. Although my vote won't really count, since by the time they get to California the election's pretty much all over. But I'm gonna vote for Obama.
Q: How did you come to that decision?
A: Well it really is as clear as black and white (laughs). The white guy tells too many lies. Romney never had a chance in this election anyway, he's just a sacrificial lamb stuck out there. I think the election could just be an aptitude test to see how many idiots were out there.
Q: I know you're an advocate for medical marijuana. Are you critical, like some advocates have been, of Obama's record of letting the DEA go after medical marijuana dispensaries?
A: Well he had to, you know. It's a political move. If he had done anything the other way, they would have hung that around his neck the whole time. Everything he did in his first term was like a noose, like the right was trying to lynch him - and for anything! (Obama) almost went all the way and tried to legalize it, and I think that would have been his plan if Mitt had been a little closer with the youth vote. You know Obama's record on pot speaks for itself; he's a black surfer from Hawaii.
Q: Are you surprised, at this point, that pot is not legal yet?
A: It's been demonized so badly, that it's taken all this time for people to un-demonize it. You can make paper out of it, you can make rope, you can make clothes, it can feed you—it can feed and clothe you, so of course it's illegal. (laughs) It's all about money. Look what's legal, cigarettes have no medical benefit. They're addictive, they'll give you cancer and they're legal. But pot has always been legal for people that want it. You can always get it. In California you can have pot delivered faster than a pizza.
Q: So you're pretty active on Twitter. How has the Internet changed the way you approach entertaining people?
A: Oh man, I love it. I have a podcast. It's a direct line right to the people, and it has eliminated a lot of middle men. You have to use the Internet these days. I think Woody Allen still uses a typewriter, and he's gonna have a hard time getting typewriter ribbon eventually.
Q: So who's coming out to see Cheech and Chong on this tour?
A: Young people, or the young at heart, and the stoners. We're still the hippie act. Our fans are great. One time we played in Oklahoma after a tornado destroyed all these homes. We were going to cancel the show, but I went on the radio and all these people were calling in saying 'no, no, what else are we going to do? We need a laugh.' So we have loyal fans.
Q: What can we expect to see at the Tampa show?
A: Well, I can tell you that the air will smell better at our show. It always does. My wife opens up the show, then me and Cheech do a Q and A with the audience, and then we play a little music, do a little standup and some dancing. Oh, and we do the odd pot joke. You're lucky if you get to see us, because our days are getting a little shorter. I tell people, don't miss us if we're coming near you, because nothing lasts forever.
Q: Any celebrity, living or dead, who would you smoke with?
A: Hmm, well I smoked with most of them already (laughs). I smoked with every Beatle except Paul. I smoked out with Ringo, but he liked to drink more. I smoked out with John in the room, although he didn't smoke because he was worried about immigration. I used to smoke regularly with George Harrison. So I'd say Paul McCartney. Paul, get ready, and I'll supply it.