By Steve Bloom
Lenny Bruce was the first comedian to work marijuana into his stand-up comedy routine. Claiming that since he didn’t smoke pot, he was qualified to comment on it, Bruce challenged politicians to change the laws that prohibit the use of marijuana. In the ’60s and ’70s, as the counterculture blossomed, comics like George Carlin, Robin Williams and Richard Pryor devoted segments of their stand-ups to personal observations about drug use. In the late ’70s and ’80s, the duo known as Cheech & Chong brought pot comedy to the silver screen with a series of stoner movies, including their classic Up in Smoke. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, Bruce-influenced ranters Sam Kinison and Bill Hicks railed against the drug laws.
In 2003, The Marijuana-Logues debuted onstage in New York, and three years later the show is still traveling around the country. Over the last few months, two CDs featuring pot routines have been released: Pot’s Greatest Hits (benefiting NORML) and The Good, the Bad and the Drugly (benefiting the Drug Policy Alliance). Together, the CDs compile routines by 25 comics based mostly in Los Angeles.
Los Angeles is the pot-comedy capital of the world. Nights devoted to pot comedy at area clubs have become commonplace. Our monthly HIGH TIMES Comedy Night at the Improv in Hollywood is a perfect example. Once a month, HIGH TIMES presents a lineup of such cannabis comics as Sarah Silverman, Doug Benson, Arj Barker, Zach Galifianakis and the Sklar Brothers. For more info about the series, go to hightimescomedy.blogspot.com.
Doug Benson: “So I’d been working at Kentucky Fried Chicken for a couple of days, making minimum wage, and then I decided to have a great idea. Why not sell weed at the drive-through window? So I came up with a code, an expression for customers to use to let me know they wanted to get some weed. All they had to do was ask for ‘extra biscuits.’ Yeah, I didn’t really think it through. ’Cause as it turns out, a lot of people at KFC ask for ‘extra biscuits.’ One fat off-duty cop in particular. So I got busted, but I didn’t do any time because it was my first offense. Now I work over at Taco Bell. And the code is still ‘extra biscuits.’ Hee, hee, hee. ’Cause we don’t sell no biscuits at Taco Bell. Ha, ha, ha. I’m no stupid.”
Lenny Bruce: “I don’t smoke pot. I’m glad I don’t smoke pot, because I can champion it then. If there’s some attorney out here who’d like to become senator, you’ve got a big vote, Jim, an untapped vote. You would shit if you knew how many shit smokers there were. You’d be amazed, man.…”
Bill Hicks: “Not only do I think marijuana should be legalized, it should be mandatory. Pot is a better drug than alcohol—fact! I’ll prove it to you: You’re at a ball game or a concert, and someone is really violent and aggressive and obnoxious. Are they drunk or are they smoking pot? They’re drunk. I’ve never seen people on pot get into a fight, because it’s fucking impossible! Say you get into a car accident and you’ve been smoking pot. You’re only going four fucking miles an hour!”
Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling: “You know you’re stoned when you’re sitting there picking away at the holiday turkey and it’s still frozen…. One Christmas party, I smoked a joint and the next thing I knew I was in the backyard giving a hickey to a snowman…. One time after I ate a pot brownie, I was sitting in my driveway hoping I wasn’t getting home too late and then realized I hadn’t left yet!”
Be sure to check out the March 2006 issue of HIGH TIMES magazine to see our Top 10 Pot Comics and the HIGH TIMES' Comedy Hall of Fame Inductees.