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Chong coming to W.V. club

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There is no love lost between Tommy Chong and his former acting/comedy partner Richard "Cheech" Marin, who co-starred with Don Johnson on TV's "Nash Bridges."

"What motivates me today," said Chong with a laugh, "is that one day, I'd like to get an Academy Award or an Emmy and stand up there and say, 'Nash Bridges' was canceled and I won an award.' "

During a phone interview from his home in Los Angeles, Chong added, "We did win a Grammy together (for the comedy album 'Los Cochinos'), but since we had to share it — it doesn't count."

Comedian, actor, musician, screenwriter and director Chong will perform his stand-up routine, with his wife, Shelby, on Sunday, July 15, at Wiseguys comedy club, 3500 S. 2200 West. Show times are 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tickets are $15 and can be reserved by calling 801-463-2909.

While many baby boomers remember Chong as the spaced-out pot toker in many a Cheech & Chong film — "Up in Smoke," "Things Are Tough All Over," "Nice Dreams," etc. — not a lot realize that he also directed many of them. Chong also wrote and starred in "Best Buds" and "Far Out Man" and made an appearance in "Half Baked."

Also on his ever-growing resume is guitarist: Chong has recorded songs with Cypress Hill, Dr. Dre and the Spin Doctors. But these days, the comedian is sticking to touring, along with appearing on the TV sitcom "That '70s Show."

"There are a lot of offers coming my way," said Chong, who cited Lenny Bruce as one of his major influences. "I think it's because I've been truthful to my craft, like Lenny was. I'm reaping the reward of a spiritual career. By spiritual, I mean I've kept it pure and didn't sell out."

Another piece of the success puzzle is his wife, who appeared as the Princess in Cheech & Chong's take on "The Corsican Brothers." "She's like my boss now," Chong said with a hefty laugh. "We've been together for 20 years, she says. It was longer but now it's down to 20."

Shelby Chong originally started off as her husband's announcer before she was invited to become part of the act. "She used to stay at home, but then I didn't trust her," Chong joked. "Then I asked her to come up on stage, and she liked it. I think she liked it too much. And I haven't been able to get her off the stage since."

Joking aside, Chong says his wife is the best thing that has ever happened to him. "She's too gorgeous and too funny. I like spending my time with her. It's cool to sit next to her on a plane or see her on stage. I can't say enough about this beautiful woman who is in my life. But every now and then, I can reward myself and sneak out of the house and wear what I want to wear. I know, though, when I do, I'll hear about it later."

When he's not touring, Chong, who originally wanted to be a blues musician, spends his time with hand-blown glass art. "My son has a factory — well, I actually bought it for him. We work together and create glass works. Then we sell them and split everything 50/50. Sometimes we come up with outrageous designs and figure we can sell them to a junkyard somewhere."


E-mail: scott@desnews.com