Talk about typecasting: Tommy Chong (search), who as one-half of the '60s comedy duo Cheech & Chong (search) became the archetypical stoner, is stepping into the off-Broadway show "The Marijuana-Logues" (search) for two weeks beginning Tuesday.
As stints go, it sure beats his last one: serving a nine-month jail term for shipping "drug paraphernalia" (in this case, a bong) across state lines.
Chong says the show — a sort of cannabis version of "The Vagina Monologues," in which three performers deliver a series of comic paeans to the herb — is a perfect fit for his first post-bust gig.
"It's very poetic that it came down to me doing it," the 66-year-old told The Post from his home in California. "With me in it, it's going to be that much more authentic."
Chong and comedy partner Cheech Marin originally had more than 100 characters in their repertoire, but when it came time for their film debut, the stoner and the Chicano were clearly the most popular choice.
"They were the characters that the most people could relate to," Chong says. "The lowest common denominator. No matter how bad your life is, you can always look down at Cheech and Chong."
They starred in seven films, most of which Chong co-wrote, including their smash hit "Up in Smoke." After their last film appearance in 1985, in Martin Scorsese's "After Hours," Marin went on to a successful acting career, while Chong, staying true to his persona, did a lot of stand-up and had a recurring role on TV's "That '70s Show."
Chong, who still sprinkles the word "man" freely into conversation, found himself in prison, thanks to his mail-order business, which he says was largely his son's. Despite his image, he really didn't suspect that there would be any trouble. (Chong's wife and son, who ran the business with him, weren't charged.)
"We did everything right," he insists. "We had all the necessary licenses. We paid taxes. In fact, our company was being audited at the time of the bust."
But when one of his salesmen, whom he suspects was actually an undercover cop, shipped a bong to Pennsylvania, it became grounds for arrest. "Without doubt, it was a purely political bust." It was also a highly comic one.
"They asked me if I had drugs, and I told them, yeah," he relates. "I got buds, probably in every room. But they couldn't find them. I said, 'What kind of narcotics officers are you guys, man?' And they got defensive, and said, 'Well, we don't have our dogs.' It was a comedy of errors. Even the arresting officers felt embarrassed."
Chong agreed to plead guilty, thinking he'd be sentenced to a few months' house arrest. But the deal went south, he claims, after he publicly joked that "the only WMDs found by the Bush administration were my bongs."
The hardest part, he says, was saying goodbye to his wife. He did, however, appreciate the irony.
"I acted like it was a reality TV show, which it really kind of was," he says. Thanks to his celebrity status, Chong had a fairly easy time in minimum security. The prison even established a rule: Any guards associating with him or even asking for an autograph would be fired.
Since the arrest, he's been drug-free, a condition of his parole. It doesn't really bother him. "Because of my age, I can't party with the big guys anyway," he says. "I haven't seriously smoked pot in years."
Nonetheless, he's sure to enliven "The Marijuana-Logues," for which he'll provide some new material. In the spring, he and Marin are scheduled to start shooting another Cheech & Chong movie, "Grumpy Old Stoners."
They haven't worked together in nearly 20 years, but, as Chong points out, "In doper time, that's yesterday."