Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

April 30, 2013

Cheech and Chong back in the act, playing Riviera show

Niagara Gazette — There have been some great duos in the history of comedy including Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Burns and Allen, Lewis and Martin and The Smothers Brothers. At the top of many lists is the legendary comedy duo that is coming to North Tonawanda’s Riviera Theatre this Friday, Cheech and Chong. Chong’s wife, Shelby Chong, opens the show.

After years working the stand-up comedy circuit , Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong released their first comedy album in 1971 and quickly built a huge following for their unique brand of counter-culture humor with heavy doses of marijuana use. Their comedy albums led to a series of successful movies, including the cult classic “Up in Smoke” in 1978.

After a successful run through the 1970s and early '80s, the duo went their separate ways with Marin pursuing an acting career and Chong mainly focusing his stand-up career. In 2008 the duo reunited for a comedy tour and have been back together ever since.

“I never really left, Cheech left for his acting career. I hung around and did stand-up so when the time was right we got back together and it worked out fine,” Chong said during a recent phone interview.

“We actually divided and conquered America, because if we had stayed together we would have been old news. The fact we broke up when we did left people wanting more Cheech and Chong. “

In their years apart, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong each remained successful in their own right. Nonetheless, longtime fans and a generation of people too young to catch them the first time around met the pair’s reunion enthusiastically.

Chong views his pairing with Cheech Marin as more than just good chemistry, he sees it as destiny.

“I’d always had partners before in bands, we’d put a band together and it would fall apart. Even before I had a band I had a funny guy I would hang around with and I would be the instigator. When Cheech and I met each other it was very cosmic. He moved to the area where I lived and even before we met he knew who I was. There was a special connection. I believe the forces of the universe wanted us to introduce hemp to the world in a non-violent manner, which we did. I think that was our mission.”

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