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John Lamb, Published March 19 2011

Review: Cheech & Chong blow some smoke

Some acts age like a fine wine, getting more complex with time.

For Cheech & Chong, the stoner comedy duo from the 1970s, their show Friday night at the Fargodome was more of a flashback.

There were the vintage gags, like “Dave’s Not Here” and “Santa Claus and His Old Lady” and “Blind Melon Chitlin’ ” and lots of talk about the good, old, hazy, crazy days.

To be sure, fans likely wanted to hear the same drug jokes that fueled films like “Up in Smoke” and “Nice Dreams.” But anyone hoping for the act to have evolved in the past 30 years was out of luck.

And fitting in all the drug jokes, the nearly two-hour show felt long with awkward pacing. The jokes that drew the biggest responses were rehashing of old material.

With the exception of a handful of Charlie Sheen jokes, the bulk of any new material was inspired by Tommy Chong’s bust for drug paraphernalia in the 1990s.

Shelby Chong, Tommy’s wife, opened the show, setting a strained pace.

“Don’t you love pot? Isn’t it the best thing in the world?” she asked. When she asked if people smoked in their car or at home, I’m sure some were wishing they could wait in their car for her set to finish.

But even when the stars arrived onstage 20 minutes later, the show lacked energy.

Shelby stayed on to ask stock questions like how they met and why they split in the mid-80s. It allowed the funnymen to riff a bit, but the jokes seemed stale, including the canned rimshot.

The duo ended the show with the song “Get it Legal,” a reference to overhauling drug laws. Chong asked the crowd to join him in smoking a joint every day until pot is legalized.

But they wouldn’t be lighting up onstage or in the building.

At one point, Shelby returned to the stage to announce there would be a charity meet and greet with Cheech & Chong for $160 a pair to help Japan after the recent disasters.

The opportunity prompted someone from the crowd to ask if they could get high with the stars.

“No, but you get to take a photo with them, and you can pretend you’re smoking pot,” she replied. That announcement drew boos.

Cheech later said they couldn’t smoke pot because the Fargodome wouldn’t allow it. Instead, he offered suppositories.

It was a throwaway line, but one of the few of the evening that showed the comics can still riff.

The biggest cheers came during talk of a new movie, so fans are still hoping Cheech & Chong haven’t burned out.


Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533