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High Priest

8 Surprising Facts about Tommy Chong

Catch Tommy Chong on That '70s Show Mondays & Tuesdays from 6-11P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

We all know his work with Cheech and Chong and his role as Leo on That ’70s Show, but it turns out there’s a lot more to Tommy than “Dave’s Not Here.” Here are some of the most interesting and not all pot related facts about Tommy Chong.

1. He Played with the Jackson 5

No, Tommy Chong wasn’t a forgotten Jackson. Before comedy, Tommy was a guitar player for a band that changed names many times and eventually became Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers. They had a hit with “Does Your Mama Know About Me,” that went to #29 on the Billboard Hot 100. During their touring days, a little group called the Jackson 5 would open for them. Chong doesn’t have too many sordid stories of the young Michael Jackson later only referring to him as “a cute little guy.” To be fair, Tommy was probably stoned at the time. It’s a wonder he even remembers meeting the King of Pop.


2. The Lion King Almost Became A Cheech and Chong Film

Chong Lion King
Disney

Cheech Marin voiced the hyena Banzai in The Lion King and originally Tommy Chong was going to voice Shenzi, the other talking hyena. But Disney decided to make the character female and Whoopi Goldberg ultimately voiced the role. Also, maybe Disney didn’t want a duo known for popularizing weed in their children’s film.


3. He Broke a Record at the Semi-Finals of Dancing with the Stars

Chong dance
ABC

People thought Tommy Chong would not last on Dancing with the Stars, but he kept making the cut week after week. By the time he got to the semi-finals at age 76, he was the oldest celebrity to ever make it that far. Sadly, he was beat out by the daughter of somebody on Duck Dynasty, giving us all another reason to hate Duck Dynasty.


4. His Daughter was in The Color Purple

Chong daughter
Warner Brothers/FanPix

Tommy Chong has five kids, three of which are successful actors themselves. Rae Dawn Chong was Squeak in The Color Purple and has appeared in many other roles in film and TV. His daughter Precious Chong, has the best name ever and was in LA Confidential and Pearl Harbor. Also, they look nothing like their dad.


5. He’s been in everything from That ’70s Show to Zootopia

Chong 70s show
FOX

Leo, the stoned owner of Foto Hut, isn’t Tommy Chong’s only TV role. He’s stepped in for one time appearances on Miami Vice, Nash Bridges, and Dharma and Greg. In recent years, Chong has contributed voicework to everything from Zootopia to Uncle Grandpa.


6. The DEA Spent $12 Million to Put Him in Jail

Chong prison
Youtube

Operation Pipe Dreams was a huge DEA enterprise to crack down on people selling drug paraphernalia. 55 people were arrested, but the only person to serve jail time was Tommy Chong, due to his part of the bong selling business Chong Glass/Nice Dreams. Yeah, he was sentenced to a fine and nine months in prison for selling bongs. Operation Pipe Dreams cost the government $12 million and its only triumph was making Chong miss a season of That 70’s Show.


7. He Inspired the Wolf of Wall Street in Jail

Wolf of Wall Street
Paramount Pictures

Tommy Chong certainly made the most of his jail time. His cell mate was Jordan Belfort, the author of the book Martin Scorsese’s film The Wolf of Wall Street was based on. According to Belfort, Tommy Chong encouraged him to write his memoirs, which eventually lead to the Oscar nominated film. They’re still friends today.


8. He’s Gotten High With Everyone

Cheech and Chong

We couldn’t leave this list without some weed smoking trivia. Though it’s no surprise that Chong’s gotten high a number of times, he’s smoked with the best in the biz. In a Rolling Stone article, Tommy says he toked up with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Keith Moon, Wally from Leave it to Beaver, and all of the Beatles except Paul. There’s still time, Paul!

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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GIFs via Giphy

Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

via GIPHY

IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

via GIPHY

IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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