Latin Times Interview with Comedian/Actor/Author/Advocate and Businessman Cheech Marin
Victor Padilla: Hola Cheech, thank you for being with us on this interview. Tell us about your Family Background and where you were born and raised?
Cheech Marin: I was born in Los Angeles, a 3rd generation Mexican in Central LA until I was around ten years old when we moved from South Central to Granada Hills in San Fernando Valley. My education and upbringing, where half of everyone was African American, and then the other half was white. It was like I woke up in a different place, you know? My father was an LAPD policeman, and my mom was a housewife, I went to Catholic high school in San Fernando Valley and then San Fernando State College.
Victor Padilla: What inspired you to be a comedian/Actor and what was it like when you started in the industry? (In the roles you acted in)
Cheech Marin: I was a singer all my life, I played guitar from a very early age, but I was still a singer. I made a record when I was five years old, so that was always part of it, and I come from a very friendly family, my family was quick-witted and to get any time at the dinner table, you had to have like a type 2 minimum? Before they let you in. I grew up that way, very competitive with each other, and I’m very scholastic orientated, and that’s how I got my first, I don’t know how you call it, ‘Disciplined,’ and how to learn the things I wanted to learn.
Victor Padilla: You wrote a book, “Cheech is Not My Real Name…But Don’t Call Me Chong!” Love the name, and interesting title, tell us about it?
Cheech Marin: Well you know I wrote it because I had to, people I knew came around and said “Hey you should write a book…”, We spoke some words, and I said ok that sounds good, and so it’s written in a way to kind of catch everybody up on what I’m doing, what I have been doing, and my earliest times, and seeing kind of how it forms my past. I lived in Canada for a few years after college, and I was the only Chicano over there. They didn’t know what I was when I got up there, everything but Chicano, I even thought I was American Indian or an Indian from India.
Victor Padilla: You are Currently working with The Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution Educators with Rick Najera on Latino Thought Makers, tell us how important being a thought maker is for Latinos?
Cheech Marin: Well, it is, you know you have to have somebody expressing those kinds of thoughts that the general public, general Latino audience, is seeking and guide them to the correct legitimate processes which are where they need to go and how to get there. Rick and I go way back to Broadway where we worked together, love working with him.
Victor Padilla: In all the Films you have acted in, tell us about some of the funniest moments you had?
Cheech Marin: Well, you know I had a lot of funny moments with Cheech and Chong, which made them much more amusing than they would appear, is that they were all spontaneous. They were all improvised on the set after we did it, it became a basic idea, and then we found funny ways to do them. We would set up a scene and I would be ok with it and this is what made it funny.
Victor Padilla: How do you feel about the progress the legalization of Cannabis in this country?
Cheech Marin: Well it’s coming faster than most people would have expected it, I thought it a would come to a lot earlier, but 35-47 states now have some type of legalized marijuana, medicinal more than recreational, so the boat is rolling downhill right now, and it’s how would we direct it not how we profit.
Victor Padilla: What is your favorite Latin food and do you love Cuban Sandwiches?
Cheech Marin: I do love Cuban sandwiches they are, and I’m a little hungry man, and my favorite, I’m a big Menudo fan, I love to it eat warm as a little kid
Victor Padilla: Are you working on any new projects?
Cheech Marin: I just finished a little ark in a tv series called Law 49 on TBS, a real quirky series, and the thing I’m most excited about is May 17th & 18th, I’m singing at the Hollywood Bowl on the Disney’s rendition of Little Mermaid? , That is going to be great! I’ll be Louie the Chef, and it will be Live, I’m getting paid to sing at the Hollywood Bowl!
Victor Padilla: Who has been your hero and inspiration?
Cheech Marin: Well, my all-time famous hero would have to be Muhammed Ali, I had a couple of interactions with him, and I appreciated him. I admire him for what he did, the bravery, the courage when he stood up at the height of his career for what he believed. Not only was he the world greatest boxer ever, but he stood up for the rights of a few constituents, and he just gave and gave and gave!