While the ’70s are mostly remembered as the decade of bell-bottoms, disco, and blow, the “Me Decade” also produced some of the greatest stoner comedy albums ever. Heads like Cheech and Chong and George Carlin opted out of the pop, pop, pop, coke-binge antics of a Richard Pryor or Steve Martin act and instead dragged out their routines to cater to their baked, post-hippie fan base.
The comedy duo of Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong toured first doing stand-up before releasing a string of hit albums based on their stage routines. Their third album, “Los Cochinos,” features a pull-out cover of a car stuffed with grass. Among our favorites on this album are ‘Pedro and Man at the Drive-Inn’ (Cheech and Chong’s alter-alter egos), in which the pair are so stoned at the drive-in they forget their friends they locked in the trunk, and ‘Sargent Stadanko,’ about a narcotics officer addressing a New York Catholic school class that knows more about weed than he does. Start with “Los Cochinos,” then go back to their self-titled debut. With “Cheech and Chong,” you get the feeling of the pair getting used to being in the studio and it’s a little uneven. Our faves on this disk include ‘Vietnam,’ about a platoon of baked soldiers on patrol during that era’s war of choice, and the iconic ‘Dave’ skit, where a dude, clearly stoned, refuses to open the door for his friend.
George Carlin, who started out as a straight-laced late-night comedian, became the face of weed humor in the ’70s. 1974’s “Toledo Window Box,” which refers to a type of weed grown at home, is his fifth solo album. Carlin’s shtick is less skit-based and more “deep thought”-based, a style that would become prevalent over the next two decades. Look out for ‘Nursery Rhymes’ and the ‘Toledo Window Box’ skit, which pretty much sums up why grass beats alcohol every time. Then go back to 1972’s “Class Clown,” an earlier record that’s not as solid, but it includes Carlin’s iconic ‘Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television.’ And that alone is a reason to seek out this album.
As our attention spans shortened with the rise of arcade games, and later on, the internet and cellphones, the long skits of the ’70s gave way to twisty wordplay, with life’s big questions in the late ’80s through the ’00s asked by comedians like Mitch Hedberg and Steven Wright. We’re at a time now where grass humor is no longer relegated to snickering in the dark of mom’s basement thanks to shows like “Weeds” and “Broad City. “
“I Have A Pony,” cerebral comedian Steven Wright’s 1985 debut album, is flat-out hilarious. Wright combines the short bits of Steve Martin with the “whoa dude” humor of Carlin. “Pony” has “tracks” but it’s really one long rambling, mumbling bit of Wright’s questions about life and heavy wordplay. It also is free of the sometimes racist or homophobic bits that were permitted on the previous decade’s style. If Wright had a love child with a pot brownie, it is Florida comedian Mitch Hedberg. Hedberg, who died of a drug overdose at age 37, burned extremely bright and burned out quickly on the comedy scene. Though released posthumously, “Do You Believe in Gosh?” represents Hedberg at the height of his career. His style of wordplay and the way he asks questions is a direct descendant of Wright’s style.