For 420 Day: The Hall of High Comedians

In the spirit of our earlier posts on Drunk Comedians and Plus-Sized Comedians, this year we observe 420 Day with a brief listicle on certain comedians who are identified with the cannabis plant and its marvelous effects on the human mind and body. Obviously, as with all intoxicating substances, you could fill a phone book with ALL pot loving comedians; this one will simply focus on those who are especially associated with weed and/or have portrayed characters who seemed conspicuously high. Follow links to full posts on the hep cats in question:

Lord Buckley

I am well overdue to do a post on this influential comedian/poet/philosopher/eccentric because it is slowly dawning on me that he is one of the few public performers whose oddball career mine has in any way resembled, unconscious though it may have been, and minor though it may be. Lord Buckley (1906-1960) was uncategorizable. There is no way to explain him, just search for his clips on Youtube. Closely associated with be bop jazz, Lord Buckley was one of the very first public figures to CLEARLY have had some creative association with marijuana.

Lenny Bruce

Lenny hewed even closer to the be bop scene; it permeated his act, and clearly his life. Sadly, he was drawn into harder drugs, which killed him.

Paul Krassner

Here we make Krassner the poster boy for his many associates amongst the Yippies and the wider anti-war and civil rights activist community of the late ’60s. He was actually a kind of apprentice to Lenny Bruce, and more literally a professional comedian than, say, Abbie Hoffman, who would more accurately be described as a “prankster”.

George Carlin

Carlin was the first (or one of the first) to take the counterculture to mainstream audiences from the stand-up stage and on comedy records. At a certain juncture, he gave up lucrative Las Vegas employment and started working college campuses, a move that was both honest and savvy.

Cheech and Chong

I should hope this requires no elaboration.

Mark Blankfield

As with Krassner, although with perhaps less justification, I make this very funny comedian a stand-in for a generation. It may seem an odd choice, given his brief (relative) fame, and his relative lasting obscurity. I choose him because of all the TV comedians of the era (late ‘1970s and very early ’80s), I associate him with his druggy characters. He was a cast member on Fridays, and even starred in some movies, but he never attained the same level of fame as the top SNL comedians. And I don’t know that he was particularly associated with weed, although he seemed it. One of his best appreciated characters was a pharmacist who did, like, ALL the drugs. This is contrasted with someone like John Belushi who may have done all the drugs himself, but had no particular conspicuous comedy character associated with such. The bottom line is that Blankfield just seemed stoned.

Steven Wright

I have no idea about Steven Wright’s personal habits, but his stand-up character sure seems stoned, both in terms of his slow rhythms and his spacy, surreal, speculative concepts.

Mitch Hedberg

Ditto Mitch Hedberg, except we KNOW that he was high.

Dave Chapelle

Black comedians and reefer go WAY back; in fact many of them influenced Lord Buckley as early as the 1930s and ’40s. Chapelle is the first one I can think of though who talks about it a lot, clearly seems influenced by it intellectually, and even starred as “Sir Smoke-a-lot” in the 1998 film Half-Baked.

Seth Rogan

More a comic actor than a “comedian” per se, Rogan’s screen characters have often (perhaps more often than not) been stoners, the premium example perhaps being Pineapple Express (2008) and he is also an outspoken cannabis enthusiast outside of his roles.

Harold and Kumar

Pot and/or bongs play prominent parts in all three Harold and Kumar comedies starring John Cho and Kal Penn.

The Broad City Chicks

I’m a huge fan of Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, whose ground breaking sit-com, based on their previous web series, ran from 2014-2019. It may be the first sit-com in which the lead characters take bong hits like people in Middle America drink cups of coffee. Haha, and that’s not even the most important way in which the show is ground-breaking (it’s like, fourth). I miss having new episodes of this show a great deal.

Now that weed is legal and since the increasingly codger-like Bill Maher (who, to be fair, was once an actual dealer) still makes such a noise about his fondness for it, pot’s renegade allure is fast fading. Identifying with it as some sort of signifier of hipness feels distinctly retrograde out of the mouth of a sexagenarian, redolent of Rush Limbaugh’s oft-announced liking for “adult beverages”. If by “adult” you mean “senior citizen”, okay Rush (may you rest in agony). As for me, I associate partying with YOUTH. Don’t get me wrong — I love everything mind-altering. But cool is printed in the person; you can’t buy it from “your guy”.

And speaking of codgers, as always, I never welcome, appreciate, or incorporate your contributions or suggestions! If you feel that I have omitted someone, you are encouraged to start your own blog, and make your own list, Smart Guy. Now get off my grass-patch!

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