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Stoner comics find new fans

Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)

A quarter-century after splitting up, Cheech & Chong, the kings of stoner comedy, are toking up again.

One of the most iconic and popular comedy duos ever, Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin starred in eight movies together in the late 1970s and early ’80s, including “Up in Smoke” and “Nice Dreams.” Before that they had a successful stand-up act, garnering accolades including a 1973 Grammy for best comedy album.

After years of strained relations and several aborted attempts to reunite, they’re back together for a nationwide stage show. With marijuana movies smokin’ up the big screen, Marin, 62, and Chong, 70, showed in a recent phone interview that imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery.

Question: So have those “Pineapple Express” guys cut you a check yet?

Chong: (Laughter.) They should, shouldn’t they?

Marin: They should just send us over a giant bag of Pineapple Express!

Chong: I’d go for that!

Q: Why do you think that movie and the “Harold & Kumar” flicks, which are pretty much ripping you guys off, are so popular?

Chong: America’s jumping the gun. They’re already acting like a Democrat’s in power again. It’s a celebration saying goodbye to the old Bush-league justice.

Marin: I think so, too. Because you know the pendulum swings. It’s swung to one side, and now it’s swinging to the other side.

Q: Much was made of your long rift, and there were several attempts over the years to reunite the act. What finally put it over the top?

Chong: Money, or the lack of. As long as we had any kind of money, we weren’t talking. But the minute we both ended up with no money, we said, “You know what? We’ve each got half of a treasure map, so let’s put our halves together.”

Marin: We’re on the road to El Dorado! But we’re very fortunate to be in the position to be a comedy act that was together for a long time, and apart for a long time, and we have a chance to get back together to put an exclamation point on what we did.

Q: So has the act changed much from your early days?

Marin: It had to because we can’t remember it!

Chong: I’ll tell you one thing, the look has sure changed. We used to be these young handsome guys, and now we’re these old funny-looking guys. It’s a good thing we’re comedians because if we were serious lover-type actors, we’d be in serious trouble.

Q: The real question people are going to be asking is, are there going to be any more Cheech & Chong movies?

Chong: Oh, absolutely. Well, there’s one out now called “Pineapple Express!”

Marin: We’re going to do porno movies.

Chong: Old guy pornos!

The birthday bunch

Actress Melinda Dillon (“A Christmas Story”) is 69. Musician Paul Simon is 67. Country singer Lacy J. Dalton is 62. Actor Demond Wilson (“Sanford and Son”) is 62. Singer Sammy Hagar is 61. Actor John Lone (“Rush Hour 2”) is 56. Singer-actress Marie Osmond is 49. Actress Kelly Preston is 46. Actress Kate Walsh is 41. Actor Sacha Baron Cohen (“Borat”) is 37. Singer Ashanti is 28