Cheech Marin talks 'Jeopardy' obsession and explains why he never did hard drugs

In his new memoir -- titled "Cheech Is Not My Real Name... But Don't Call Me Chong!" -- Cheech Marin recalled his phenomenal success with fellow comedian Tommy Chong and the many twists and turns that took place right after. The 70-year-old grandfather spoke to Fox News about why he never tried harder drugs and how to become a "Jeopardy" champ:

Fox News: You described your first experiencing smoking pot as revelatory.
Cheech Marin: Everything changed. It can be bad, but it can also be very wonderful.

Fox News: How did you resist heavier drugs?
Marin: We were more disciplined in that way. I played every sport, and I worked out every day. Tommy was the same way. He was a body builder at that time, so we would have that in common. We would go to the gym and work out. We belonged to the YMCA, that was our club of choice. We decided coke wasn’t for us right away. It was a conscious choice.


Fox News: As "Cheech & Chong" you two became like rock stars.
Marin: I would think that if there are any comedians who should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, it’s Cheech & Chong. We are rock and roll.

Fox News: How is your relationship with Tommy now?
Marin: Fine, I just saw him the other day. We work together all the time. It’s fine. I don’t know, we’ll see after the book.

Fox News: In addition to Tommy, you also have a special relationship with "Jeopardy."
Marin: My cousins and I played some form of "Jeopardy" all our lives... it was always this kind of holy but unobtainable grail out there. When I got the chance to appear on "Celebrity Jeopardy" I just jumped at it. It was the most nervous I’ve ever been in show business by far because you can really look an idiot on that show and I’ve seen some celebrities look like idiots. It was nerve-wracking.

Fox News: You said the key is to use your index finger on the buzzer.
Marin: I learned that from a track coach who used to time the runners with his index finger. I was in high school. He told me that the reaction time is a split second advantage to accuracy if you use your index finger. So I remembered that.


Fox News: And you’re their reserve. They pay you to be on hold in case a celebrity drops out.
Marin: Isn’t that cool? I love that! Well they’ve got to have somebody. I’m the reliever from the Mexican league. Don’t you wish you were me?

Fox News: You also mentioned how "Nash Bridges" was a favorite work experience for you.
Marin: Yes because Don (Johnson) and I got along so well. We had both committed to making the show a success and Don is really a great host. I tried to be appreciative of that.

Fox News: And animation has been very good to you, too. You were in "The Lion King" and "Cars."
Marin: Oh yeah, it gave my career legitimacy and took it in another direction and that pushed me forward into my own separate identity. My key to life, if there is a key, is to be centered at all times. If you’re centered things will come to you and you’ll be able to handle them when they come to you because you’ve seen them clearly.

Fox News: Now that the book is out, what are you currently working on?
Marin: I’m writing more. I’m writing every day. I’m trying to complete a novella I’ve started. I’m about half way through and maybe a book of essays on the whole Latino situation in the United States called "We Come in Peace and We Have You Surrounded."

Fox News: Is this a weird time for you now?
Marin: No, not at all... It’s like watching a lava flow. You can stand it in front of it, I just wouldn’t recommend it. We have a very divisive president who not only doesn’t want to bring the nation together, he’s not interested nor does he have the knowledge to do it. He doesn’t know how, he only knows how to go out and rattle his base.

Fox News: You’re a grandfather. Do you spoil your grandchildren?
Marin: They get things they didn’t even know they wanted!

Fox News: Most people would be surprised to read that you’re dad was a cop and you thought about joining the priesthood.
Marin: Surprise!