By Noe Gutierrez
Cheech & Chong are the most recognizable comedy team of our time. At Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio on Friday, September 2, 2016 at 8 p.m. you can witness their classic comedy show live, along with their long-time opening act Shelby Chong.
Coachella Valley Weekly spoke with Cheech Marin, from his home in Los Angeles earlier this week in the early morning. When he was told it was 100 degrees at 9 in the morning here in the desert, he replied in jest, “Oh, dear God!” The fact is Marin has close ties to the desert through his passion for golf and a certain music festival. “I’m happy to be back in the Coachella Valley. I can’t wait to see all my people to make them laugh and have a good time. I’ve played all the tournaments there and have gone to Coachella. I’ve come back many times because I was born and raised in L.A. I’m sure I have relatives in the desert by now. We always have a good time out in the desert, the people there are cool.”
Performing together since 1971, Cheech and Chong have recorded 9 albums, which garnered four Grammy nominations for Best Comedy Album with one win for Los Cochinos (1973), and co-wrote and starred in 8 movies together, with Up In Smoke (1978) being the highest grossing comedy of that year earning over $100 million. All of their films were directed by Tommy Chong.
Cheech & Chong
Marin is a multidimensional entertainer and businessman who developed integrity as an actor, director, writer, musician, art collector. Having starred in films like Born In East LA, and on televisions shows like Nash Bridges, Marin is meaningful and influential to a multitude of generations. Marin has also become a well-known private collector of Chicano art. As a team, Cheech and Chong are not remiss of their significance. “I’ve heard the story over and over again when kids come up to me and tell me how they got turned on to us by their parents. Our records and movies are shared on cross country family trips. We used to say we had the only true family films because you had to take your family to get in, ha ha! We identified that line that is risqué and acceptable at the same time. That’s part of the genius of Cheech and Chong.”
Chong was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and began his entertainment career as a musician in a rhythm and blues band. Chong met Marin through an improvisational group he founded called ‘City Works.’ Chong has also starred on the television hit, That 70’s Show, as the improbable stoner ‘Leo’. Chong is also an author of New York Times Best-Sellers, The I Chong: Meditations from the Joint and Cheech and Chong: The Unauthorized Autobiography.
The show at Fantasy Springs is a unique opportunity for fans in the Coachella Valley. Since their reunion after 25 years, the duo has only performed a handful of times. “We’ve been doing one-off shows. We’re not banging out shows. We’re more relaxed in our lives right now but we still enjoy getting out on stage and doing our jobs,” Marin said.
Marin remains involved in other realms as well. “I’ve received several movie and television offers that I’m mulling over. I just finished a memoir that will be released March 10, 2017. It’s all about my fabulous life and it’s called Cheech Is Not My Real Name, But Don’t Call Me Chong.”
Cheech and Chong remain relevant given the current political climate. “Our show allows us to comment on anything happening in the culture right now and different sections.”
Music is also a significant part of their comedy as well. “We’re both musicians. We have a lot of popular tunes like “Earache My Eye” that we play. Bands like Korn, Soundgarden and the Rollins Band have covered it. I don’t’ know a guitarist alive who doesn’t know that riff, ‘da na na, da na na, dun dun dun.’” Once the song hit its peak on the charts, radio station managers pulled the song due to complaints that the song appealed to junkies, dropouts, drug addicts, and drunks. Some radio managers threatened to fire their disc jockeys for playing the song.
Tres Papalote Mezcal
Marin has further expanded his magnetism into the world of mezcal. As brand ambassador of Tres Papalote Mezcal, he brings an invitation to consumers to step up to the elegance of the high quality mezcal experience. “I’ve always enjoyed mezcal throughout my drinking age life. It tastes great,” shared Marin.
The difference between mezcal and tequila are noteworthy. Tequila and mezcal are produced in different regions of Mexico. Mezcal is made from different varieties of agave than tequila. The other big difference between the two types of Mexican liquor is that mezcal distillers traditionally slow-roast the agave by burying it in pits with hot rocks, which infuses the final product with its signature smokiness.
The bottle decoration was chosen from the Marin’s Chicano art collection. The image on the bottle comes from a glass sculpture skillfully crafted by the artists Elinar and Jamex De La Torre. “We used Jamex De La Torre’s art and embossed it on the label. It’s very colorful. You’ll see if from across the room. The reaction to it is has been great!” The brothers moved from Guadalajara, Mexico to California in 1972. They are respected in the Chicano art community as innovators in their chosen art form.
Through it all Marin remains focused on those he cherishes: “My family is great. I have my kids working for me in various positions. My wife is doing well. My grandkids are growing up. Life is good. My wife joins me on tour when she can. She has a pretty busy schedule.”
Marin’s omnipresence is only shadowed by his humility. The Coachella Valley will be rolling in the aisles on September 2nd at Fantasy Springs Casino.
Tickets for the 8pm Cheech & Chong Live show with opening act Shelby Chong are on sale for $59, $39, and $29 at the Fantasy Springs Box Office, via telephone at 800-827-2946 or online at www.FantasySpringsResort.com.