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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

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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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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.