Tommy Chong: ‘We were always high. That was the job’

How does half of stoner duo Cheech and Chong cope with coronavirus lockdown? Fine – thanks to drugs, his wife and the experience of nine months in prison for selling bong pipes

Tommy Chong has got the munchies. It’s early afternoon in locked-down LA, and last night he was on the pot cookies. “My wife, Shelby, just made a whole batch of them – oatmeal and maple syrup.” He stops to correct himself. “I put the pot in there, and of course I put too much in. Last night it got me almost comatose. Shelby got kinda mad at me. You know like when a kid gets so stoned all you do is sit there and grin.” Chong is 82 next month.

He sounds about four decades younger – his voice is deep, sexy, pulsing with life. Chong is one half of the most famous stoner comic partnership in history, Cheech and Chong. In the 1970s, they not only sold out their live shows, they topped the album charts and had huge box-office hits with movies such as Up in Smoke and Cheech and Chong’s Next Movie. The double-act were as radical as they were bonkers. And while the films were ostensibly about two aspiring rock stars in search of the next spliff, they introduced audiences to a downtown, multiracial Los Angeles rarely seen in movies.

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Tommy Chong: ‘We were always high. That was the job’