Chronic comic relief
Cannabis comedian Doug Benson lands in Sacramento, does Howe ’bout Arden this 4/20 evening
Doug Benson continues to prove himself the hardest-working stoner in show business. During the four years since the release of his hit documentary Super High Me, the stand-up comic has garnered an impressive cult following as the host of weekly podcast Doug Loves Movies. His Comedy Central series, The Benson Interruption, recently wrapped production of its first season. He’s a busy stoner.
During my last interview with Benson in 2009, he discussed his love of Sacramento, in addition to a bizarre infatuation with the Howe ’Bout Arden strip mall (where the Punch Line is located), where he’ll record a live comedy show this Wednesday, April 20.
I had another email exchange with Benson last week in anticipation of his 4/20 appearance in the 916; here are some highlights:
So, how did marijuana originally come to be your drug of choice, as opposed to, you know, huffing glue in your mom’s basement as a kid, or turning your nose into a ski resort like Charlie Sheen?
I was a late bloomer, weedwise. [I] tried it in high school with some long-haired kids who lived next door to me in San Diego, California. Didn’t think it really did anything—maybe it was bad weed—so I never went back to it. Just drank my way through some junior college and the first five years of my stand-up career.
Then I did a road gig with two guys who have been good friends of mine ever since. … The three of us would get high after every show that weekend, and it changed my life forever. Or at least one aspect of my life. But I only drink and smoke weed; I don’t do all of those other things Charlie Sheen gets into, which would probably make me one of the trolls he’s always talking about.
What significance does 4/20 have to you?
It’s like a stoner holiday—if we had jobs, that is. I’m kidding. It’s basically a day that people who enjoy weed or need it for medicine can celebrate. Pretty much the same way they do every other day of the year.
You’ve done 4/20 shows in San Francisco in the past. What made you decide to change the location and record your new album in Sacramento this year?
I’m taping my new CD in Sacramento because I do it in a different city every year. I decided a few years ago that I would record a new album every year, which would force me to generate new material constantly, instead of doing old bits over and over again. And 4/20 seemed like the perfect date to do this, because it’s a nod to my fan base, to all the people who like my movie Super High Me. So the first year was [Los Angeles]; the second was S.F.; third was Minneapolis; and now, this year, Sac.
I love Sacramento. It’s a very open-minded place when it comes to pot. I’ve been playing the Punch Line here once or twice a year for a while now, and I always have a good time. I mean, you can’t beat the Howe ’Bout Arden mall.
What are some of your favorite cannabis clubs in California? How do clubs in California differ from those in other parts of the country?
The difference is clubs don’t exist in other states—at least not on the scale that they do in Cali. I have a place I go to in L.A. that doesn’t advertise. It’s very chill, and they always have the kinds of strains I enjoy. I’ve never enjoyed shopping, but going to the dispensary is always a delightful experience. It’s magical, like going to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory—but this chocolate has weed in it.
Favorite strains? Do you prefer indicas or sativas? Have you found the weed that makes you melt into the couch like that girl on the “Above the Influence” commercial yet?
No melting-into-the-couch weed, but I’ve found some pretty amazing stuff. I’m a sativa person, because indicas make me sleepy. And my favorite sativas are Chocolope and Headband.
How have things changed for you since the release of Super High Me?
I like to think that marijuana is becoming more accepted. Lots of young people have told me they made their parents watch my movie, to show that people who smoke weed can be productive members of society. Or end up like me. Hee hee.
What else do you have in the works right now?
I’m continuing to do my podcasts, Doug Loves Movies and The Benson Interruption (both available to download for free or for a small charge in the comedy podcast and album sections of iTunes), touring around the country, doing stand-up shows and live podcast tapings. For a pothead, I’m pretty busy.