Tommy Chong wraps up his stand-up routine by performing “Up in Smoke” at the Civic Center, Friday evening.(Mark Wilson Photo)
Cheech & Chong actor Tommy Chong entertained hundreds of fans Saturday night with his Up in Smoke comedy show, which brought Chong and his wife Shelby to Roswell for the second time in seven years.
Fans from across Southeastern New Mexico traveled to the Civic Center to catch the act, including Artesia residents James Carrasao and his girlfriend Kim McGhee. Carrasao and McGhee celebrated their one-year anniversary by attending their very first Up in Smoke act.
“I’ve been watching his movies since I was 8 or 9 years old,” Carrasao said before the show. “What is there not to like about him?”
McGhee said the appeal of Cheech & Chong to her is how they aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo, especially when it comes to marijuana.
“They’re funny for one thing, but they’re entrepreneurs, too,” McGhee said. “They say what they want to say, and they do what they want (to do).”
“I think (marijuana) just needs to be legalized already — that way people are free to make their own choice,” she said.
Most of Chong’s material Saturday night focused on marijuana, ranging from lighthearted jokes and anecdotal accounts about the drug to the nine months Chong spent in federal prison “for selling a bong” and his political takes on America’s war on drugs.
Chong began the show telling the audience about how earlier in the day, he did an interview with a Roswell radio station that ended ironically with Chong posing for pictures with a local sheriff.
Other bits featured Chong’s take on stoners who drive, and how they “never get speeding tickets” but occasionally do get warned by police for driving too slow or for waiting for a light to change at a stop sign.
“We’re concentrating really hard, staying between the lines,” Chong laughed. “It’s, ‘Oh (shoot), I went through a red light. But it’s OK. I’ll stop twice at the next one.’”
Chong, a marijuana advocate since the 1960s, talked about his views on the benefits of medical marijuana and how he treated his prostate cancer with hemp oil. Chong said before he used hemp as a treatment, his PSA numbers were “off the charts,” but after using hemp oil, he is cancer-free.
Chong talked about TV footage he saw of an 11-year-old autistic child who was abusing himself before his doctors prescribed a dose of marijuana. Chong said soon after the dose, the child became calm and began to study his own hand. Chong said after the dose, however, a pediatrician nevertheless questioned the veracity of the child’s treatment.
“So here’s this kid who was all (messed) up, and now he’s not all (messed) up — don’t you see? What more do you need?”
The loudest ovation of the evening came as Chong offered his explantation for why marijuana is so often ignored in the medical arena.
“I realized why they won’t get excited about this is because those (people) are being paid off by the big pharmaceutical companies that want to keep feeding our people with (prescription medication) that makes you crazy and turns (a profit).”
“We could stop cutting down our trees if we start growing enough hemp,” he said. “We can have paradise on Earth if we only get off this (crap) of making hemp illegal.
“No one’s ever died from pot. Well, one guy. He was unloading it and a ton of it fell on him. But other than that, nobody.
“You see, the trouble with our society is that, we talk too much. And we don’t listen enough. Here’s the thing: If you want peace, love and happiness and health, you have to listen to God. You do, you do. And the way you listen to God? You meditate.”
At the end of the show, Chong played blues guitar and sang popular songs from Cheech & Chong films. He finished with the song “Up in Smoke,” a crowd favorite that had many in the audience singing along with the chorus: “When troubled times begin to bother me, I take a toke, and all my cares go up in smoke.”