Cheech & Chong's Tommy Chong & Shelby at Cobb's
The last date listed for Tommy Chong & Shelby was Sunday, May. 18, 2008 / 8:00pm.
Cheech and Chong are a fondly remembered (by those who can) pop artifact from a time when the then relatively young drug culture was viewed in a more benevolent light. After two years of working together in a Toronto-based improv group, Thomas ‘Tommy’ Chong, the half-Chinese, half-Scottish-Irish Canadian, collaborated with the Los Angeles-born Mexican-American Richard ‘Cheech’ Marin in 1969 to create a comic sensation. Cheech and Chong started out with nightclub appearances in Toronto and LA, graduated to opening act for major rock shows, including the Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers Band, and eventually generated a hugely popular series of comedy records beginning in the early 1970s.
While both comics exploited and lampooned stereotypes associated with their ethnicity, to varying degrees (Cheech more, Chong less), their overriding concern was the acquisition and consumption of superior marijuana. Vulgar, lowbrow but quite funny, Cheech and Chong were a classic comedy team on drugs. Cheech was the more manic while Chong was more laid-back and spacey.
Cheech and Chong enjoyed a major following throughout the 70s and early 80s. Their 1972 album “Big Bambu” became the largest-selling comedy recording of all time and held that record for many years. Their follow-up, “Los Cochinos”, won the Grammy for Best Comedy Recording. They segued into films with the surprise hit “Cheech & Chong’s Up in Smoke” (1978). “Up in Smoke” went on to earn more than $100 million worldwide. The success of this initial venture produced five subsequent “joint” film projects for the amusingly stoned duo. Chong co-wrote all of them with Marin and directed several.
After the team of Cheech and Chong had run its long successful course, both embarked on solo careers. Chong appeared in several films without Marin including 1990’s “Far Out, Man!” (where Cheech made a fleeting cameo appearance). Chong wrote, directed, starred and composed songs for this underperforming story of a 60s hippy who comes out of hiding and rediscovers his family. Chong has also done a couple of guest shots, memorably as a well-cast old friend of the protagonist on “The George Carlin Show” (Fox, 1994). Semi-retired for much of the 90s, he returned to the screen for a supporting role in “National Lampoon’s Senior Trip” (1995). Beginning in 1999, Chong had a recurring role on the popular Fox sitcom “That ’70s Show” and as of the 2001-2002 season was bumped up to regular status.