Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

Inductee: Tommy Chong

A hand gesture says a thousand words: Tommy Chong during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Photo Kevin Winter.  Courtesy Getty Images.
A gesture says a thousand words: Tommy Chong during an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Photo Kevin Winter. Courtesy Getty Images.

Reason for Induction:
For promoting racial harmony and teaching multiple generations of counterculturalists that laughter makes the best medicine.

Citation:
Hey man. It’s hard to know if the sun beamed on Edmonton on May 24, 1938, but it’s nice to think that the whole world brightened with the arrival of Thomas B. Kin Chong.

From his early years forward, Tommy Chong has walked his own path. He dropped out of his Calgary high school in his sophomore year, playing guitar to support himself. (The Chongs had moved from Edmonton to Dog Patch, a town on the outskirts of Calgary, when Tommy was a boy.) Money, it seems, was a minor motivation. “I was about 16 when I discovered music could get you laid, so I got into music,” Chong told fellow Alt-Walk inductee Nardwuar in 1993. His first band, formed in 1955, was a rarity for the time: “There was a Canadian Indian, a black... and myself who’s half-Chinese. We called ourselves the Shades cause we’re all different colours.” Chong’s proto-rockers gigged in Edmonton and Calgary until, he has said, Calgary’s mayor asked them to leave the city. The Shades decamped to Vancouver and became Little Daddie and the Bachelors, then Four Ns and a C — crass shorthand for “four coloured fellas and a Chinese lad.”

In the mid-’60s, Chong met Motown recording artist Bobby Taylor on a San Francisco street corner (Taylor was walking the city with Wilt Chamberlain and Sly Stone at the time); Chong and Taylor partnered to form Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers. Jimi Hendrix joined the band for close to a year, before he was famous, though they fired him for his overlong solos. Chong co-wrote the Vancouvers’ biggest hit, 1968’s Does Your Mama Know About Me?, a song about interracial dating. He was later turfed for skipping a band commitment to attend a hearing for his U.S. green card.

Making music and hanging out in nightclubs introduced Chong to the world of improv comedy. Also in ’68, he formed a comedy troupe, City Works, then honed his chops at a Vancouver gentlemen’s club managed by his brother. That was where Chong met Richard “Cheech” Marin, a Los Angelino who’d come to Canada to dodge the U.S.’s Vietnam draft. Marin joined City Works; he and Chong became fast friends. When the troupe disbanded two years later, Cheech and Chong turned their focus to a two-man act in which they played affable, dim-witted stoners who wanted nothing more than high times with “good grass.” The duo began releasing comedy albums in 1971; George Harrison contributed guitar licks to 1973’s Grammy-winning Los Cochinos.

Cheech and Chong’s creative and (counter)cultural peak came in 1978, with the release of their first film, Up in Smoke. Most critics belittled the effort, a ridiculous road movie about two idiots, Pedro (Cheech) and Man (Chong), smuggling a van made of marijuana across the U.S.-Mexico border, but audiences came in droves: Up in Smoke grossed close to $42 million US at the box office. Cheech and Chong made many more movies in the following years, all of a similar kind — Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie, Nice Dreams, Still Smokin’, etc. — but never equalled the comedic success of their debut. They folded the act in 1985, though, to the public, it seems Chong has mostly stayed in character since.

High-jinks: A production still from the movie Cheech & Chong's Nice Dreams.  Photo Columbia TriStar. Courtesy Getty Images.
High-jinks: A production still from Cheech & Chong's Nice Dreams. Photo Columbia TriStar. Courtesy Getty Images.

That last bit is worth dwelling on: Tommy Chong is an actor. From Up in Smoke through That ’70s Show, where he had a recurring guest role as an aging burnout, Chong the character has always been further removed from reality than Chong the man. The latter is intelligent and articulate — if not immune to the former’s bad habits. In 2003, U.S. authorities raided Chong’s L.A. home and discovered a pound of marijuana on the premises. They’d come looking for pot pipes and accessories, part of a federal case against Chong for selling drug paraphernalia on the Internet. Chong was made to forfeit $120,000 US in sales proceeds and sentenced to nine months behind bars. He served his time with typical aplomb. “Mail call here is like two sacks, one for me and one for the rest of the people,” he told L.A.’s City Beat in a jailhouse interview.

Now a free man again, Chong, 67, claims to have quit smoking dope. He continues to perform stand-up comedy with his wife of three decades, Shelby. In February, he joined Marin onstage in Aspen, Colorado for the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival; they performed their Cheech and Chong routine for the first time in 20 years. There has been loose talk of an Up in Smoke sequel, although thus far the rumour has amounted to more vapour than substance. So don’t hold your breath.

Matthew McKinnon writes about the arts for CBC.ca.

Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

New Diehard Sanders backers descend on Democratic convention vowing 'Bernie or Bust'
Some loyal Bernie Sanders voters have organized multiple events and rallies in support of the failed Democratic presidential nominee in Philadelphia to coincide with the party's convention. "Bernie or Bust" adherents say there is no way they will vote for Hillary Clinton.
New Black lives, blue lives, all lives: What does it mean when we say certain lives matter? video
The recent shooting of black men at the hands of police and the killings of law enforcement officers in response have reinstated complicated discussions about what it means when we say certain lives matter.
Calgary man detained in Turkey accused of plotting failed coup, friend says
A family friend says a Canadian man is being held in Turkey on accusations he was a leader of the failed July 15 military coup in that country.
more »

Canada »

New 'You're pretty much hosed': Air Miles rewards lacking for expiring points, customers complain
In the race to redeem their Air Miles before they expire, collectors are expressing frustrations about limited rewards options. Many are upset they can't access cash rewards like gift cards.
New Inuit press claim for co-ownership of Franklin artifacts
Inuit have asked the new Liberal government to ensure they have co-ownership of artifacts recovered by divers from the sunken wreck of HMS Erebus, a Sir John Franklin ship discovered in 2014. In the meantime, Canadian negotiations are in discussions with the Royal Navy about which of those objects Britain will own permanently.
Syrian refugees combat fear of water in Edmonton-area lake video
The number of refugees that have been lost to sea in recent years is staggering. For many refugees here in Canada that, unsurprisingly, has translated into a fear of water. To combat that fear the Islamic Family and Social Services Association put on a rather unorthodox event.
more »

Politics »

New Donald Trump's lessons for Canadian politics
We should perhaps not regard the roiling American political scene with great smugness. By comparison, Canada is a sanctuary of pleasant reasonableness. But we are not quite an invulnerable place of perfect enlightenment.
Analysis Premiers head home from Whitehorse with double-edged challenge: Chris Hall
Canada's premiers need to take advantage of a partner in Ottawa who's willing to engage with them again. But they also have to put up enough of a common front to keep Justin Trudeau from acting unilaterally — as so many prime ministers have done before.
Privacy commissioner to investigate data breach of public servants' personal info
Canada's privacy commissioner is launching a formal investigation into one of two data breaches linked to the federal government's troubled computerized payroll program, called Phoenix.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Games of Thrones cast predicts who might claim Iron Throne
The cast of Game of Thrones gathered Friday in San Diego at the annual fan convention Comic-Con, minus a few key figures including Snow actor Kit Harrington, George R. R. Martin and Emilia Clarke.
Tragically Hip fan with same cancer as Gord Downie gets tickets to final show video
Moncton resident Jason DeRoche will be at the final concert on the Tragically Hip's summer tour, and it's all thanks to a Facebook post by his wife. The 39-year-old was diagnosed with the same Stage 4 brain cancer as Hip singer Gord Downie just weeks ago.
Judge won't allow Suge Knight lawyers to have witness addresses in murder case
Defence lawyers for Marion "Suge" Knight will not be given addresses and other information about confidential informants and key witnesses in the murder case against the former rap mogul, a judge ruled Friday after a closed-door meeting with a prosecutor and police detective.
more »

Technology & Science »

What the dog smelled: The science and mystery of cadaver dogs
They can catch a whiff of human remains under 30 metres of water or buried in a mine shaft, and can tell the difference between, say, a dead raccoon and a dead hiker. And yet scientists still aren't 100 per cent sure how cadaver dogs manage to do this and the training community is still figuring out how to train them most effectively.
'Heat dome' blamed for sizzling temperatures in Ontario, U.S.
Extreme heat and humidity has engulfed southern Ontario and much of the U.S. Meteorologists are blaming the "heat dome." Here's what you need to know about it.
Ursula Franklin, renowned Canadian scientist, dead at 94
Ursula Franklin, one of Canada's most accomplished scientists and educators, died Friday in Toronto at age 94.
more »

Money »

New 'You're pretty much hosed': Air Miles rewards lacking for expiring points, customers complain
In the race to redeem their Air Miles before they expire, collectors are expressing frustrations about limited rewards options. Many are upset they can't access cash rewards like gift cards.
Bill Morneau says Canadian economy to rebound this year
Canada's economy should rebound "over the course of the year" from the impact of the Fort McMurray, Alta., wildfire, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said on Saturday on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in Chengdu, China.
Feeling gouged? How to save money on airline fees
Gone are the good old days when an airline ticket included added perks like a checked bag. Now those perks will cost you. So CBC News did the research to help you avoid added airlines fees this summer.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Jared du Toit eagles 18 to stay 1 shot back at Canadian Open video
Jared du Toit was the first to start celebrating. The amateur from Kimberley, B.C., had the best view, of course, of his 40-foot putt for eagle on the 18th hole. The shot helped move him to 2-under par on Saturday afternoon and into a tie for second at the RBC Canadian Open.
Andre De Grasse wins final race before Olympics
Competing in an American Track League event in Houston, Andre De Grasse beat out former world record-holder Asafa Powell over 100 metres. The 21-year-old Markham, Ont., sprinter raced to a 10.02 second result into a 0.3 metres-per-second head wind.
Recap Blue Jays take a flogging as Mariners come out swinging video
Nelson Cruz hit a grand slam off a struggling R.A. Dickey, then added a three-run shot off Drew Storen as the Seattle Mariners overpowered the Toronto Blue Jays for a 14-5 victory on Saturday.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »