Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Top 10 pot comics

For the March '06 issue of High Times, I wrote the feature story, "How Many Potheads Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb?" The main focus of the story was that stoner comedy is coming into its own, as evidenced by the High Times Comedy Night at the Improv series in Los Angeles, which began last October, and two recently-released comedy cds, Pot's Greatest Hits and The Good, the Bad and the Drugly. I created a list of "High Times' Top 10 Pot Comics" as a sidebar to the main story. I also inducted five legendary stoner comics into a new entity, the High Times Comedy Hall of Fame.

The Top 10 Pot Comics are:
1. Bill Maher
2. Doug Benson
3. Amy Poehler
4. Sacha Baron Cohen
5. Tenacious D
6. Jon Stewart
7. Jim Breuer
8. Sarah Silverman
9. Jay Leno
10. Jackie "The Joke Man" Martling

The 5 Comedy Hall of Fame inductees are:
Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Tommy Chong, Cheech Marin and Bill Hicks

In my wildest imagination, I never thought the story and lists would get the windfall of publicity it's received.

The week the magazine first arrived in the office I sent copies to all of the comics who made the Top 10 list. Either the mags went directly to the individual or to their publicist and/or agent. The first recognition of the story came on Saturday Night Live, when Amy Poehler, during an opening skit with Scarlett Johansson, mentioned that she'd "hosted the Stony Awards for High Times magazine in 1998." It was actually 2000 - she hosted with her comedy group, Upright Citizen's Brigade.

Well, that actualy had nothing to do with the Top 10 Pot Comics list, but I knew that by just sending the mags over to SNL, it had sparked that one-liner.

A month or so later I was sitting at home watching Bill Maher on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. At the beginning of Maher's second segment, Leno said, "Bill has been given an honor. In Hollywood, this is bigger than the Grammy, bigger than the Emmy. High Times magazine has voted Bill Maher the No. 1 pot comic in the United States, in the world!"

Maher quickly grabbed the March issue out of Leno's hand. "Who's No. 9 here, Jay?" he said, pointing to the article.

I'd named Leno No. 9 because of the number of pot jokes he's directed at band leader Kevin Eubanks over the years. "Someone who's never smoked a joint in his life," Leno quipped about himself. "It says because of all the dope jokes I've done about Kevin I was voted No. 9. That's quite an honor. But it's a big difference between No. 9 and No. 1."

"I am No. 1," Maher said, seriously for a second. "And I'm proud of it."

Then he riffed about smoking legally off-shore beyond the 12-mile limit: "Like William F. Buckley used to say that he did smoke pot, but he did not break a US law because he got a boat and went out 12 miles. And I have such a boat - it has a million miles on it."

Maher had also sent me an email after receiving the magazine, which read: "This is better than an Emmy. I would've been pissed if I was anything less than No. 1."

Amy Poehler's apparently content to be No. 3. Last week on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, the red-headed host congratulated the blonde-haired Poehler for being named "one of the top 3 pot comics in the world."

"I had to really work not too hard to get that," she deadpanned. "My parents were really proud of that. Actually, I have a great relationship with High Times magazine. One time, my group the Upright Citizen's Brigade got to host the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. I don't remember much of it. We were performing as well. We'd give them a list - here's how we want to be introduced. They'd be, like, great. Then, like 5 minutes later, they'd come back and be like, bad news: We lost the list. But the good news is here's a trash bag filled with weed."

The segment ended with O'Brien saying that he's "going to host the Cannabis Cup next year... I'm gonna be there. You're going to be there..."

"You know I'll be there," Poehler chimed in.

"It'll be crazy," O"Brien concluded.

To watch Amy Poehler and Conan O'Brien: CLICK HERE

Cool article, but I'm wondering why Dave Chappelle didn't make the list.

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