For comedian Doug Benson, weed is life. The star of Comedy Central’s “The High Court” still smokes cannabis daily and shows no signs of slowing down. That’s because—as Doug says himself—his best ideas come from when cannabis is in his system. It’s safe to assume then that the idea for Doug’s virtual 4/20 show presented by RushTix was created in an environment that was equal part Doug’s creative mind and part mind-expanding pot.
While knee-deep in prep for his stoner holiday show, Doug takes a break to talk more about the virtual show’s origins, how cannabis first entered his ecosystem, and how the THC-laden plant continues to play a major role in both his comedy and his lifestyle.
Doug Benson: The 420 Interview
How did the idea for the 4/20 show and collaboration with RushTix come about?
Doug Benson: For years I’ve been doing a show somewhere on 4/20 because 4/20 is like my Christmas. There’s always a great turnout and a nice smoke sesh in the parking lot after the show. Since I didn’t get to do a 4/20 show last year, I’ve teamed up with RushTix this year to put on a show that can be viewed from anywhere.
What’s different about this show than from other digital comedy shows?
Doug Benson: The difference is it’s not just a comedy show. It’s also a movie trivia game show and a long-ass smoke sesh. The first hour will be me and some friends performing stand-up sets. The second hour will feature a game from my podcast, “Doug Loves Movies,” and then the third, fourth and possibly more hours will be an opportunity for the virtual audience to smoke with me and ask me questions. They’ll be able to smoke ’em if they’ve got ’em, which isn’t true of my shows in clubs. Of course, I’ll be smoking the entire time as well.
Will there be future collaborations/shows with RushTix or is the 4/20 event the only one scheduled as of now?
Doug Benson: As the country and the world opens up I’ll be going back out on the road, but I’ll probably do more of these Internet shows because I can reach people in towns I may never go to.
Has the role of comedy in society taken on more importance throughout the COVID period?
Doug Benson: People need to laugh now more than ever it seems. The few shows I’ve done over the last year have been socially distant drive-in events, and the crowds have been so into it and appreciative. I can’t wait to get back to the club and theater shows, but of course they’ll have to be done safely.
For you personally, how is weed immersed in your day to day life?
Doug Benson: Most days, I wake and bake and then keep at it all day. People always assume I’m high so I might as well be, right?
Does it play a role in your creativity?
Doug Benson: A leading role. It’s the main character. I’ve gotten my best ideas when I’m high. Also, some terrible ones [laughs]. I could write jokes without getting high first, but that’s no fun. And since the end result is supposed to make people happy, why should I be miserable while creating it?
Have you ever taken a tolerance break?
Doug Benson: The only tolerance breaks I take are when I can’t smoke for some reason. Like on planes. I feel like I don’t need a tolerance break because I mix up what I’m doing so much, from joints to blunts to bong rips to dabs and edibles, everything hits a little differently.
Growing up, did you always know comedy was your path?
Doug Benson: I always loved stand-ups, watching Johnny Carson and David Letterman every night, and following all of the acts, but I thought I was going to be an actor/writer. After living in Los Angeles for a few months pursuing my show business dreams, my friends convinced me to try stand-up. I had an okay three-minute set on potluck night at the Comedy Store and was hooked!
I’ve been doing stand-up ever since and I hope I get to do it for the rest of my life.
Was there an initial “win” you experienced early in your career that reaffirmed comedy was what you needed to be pursuing?
Doug Benson: A comic I’d always admired was in the back of the room during my first ever set and he said something nice to me that was incredibly encouraging. I then went on to have a lot of bad sets at rinky dink open mics around town, eventually getting emcee spots at some local clubs. It was when I was hosting shows at a club called Igby’s that I met—and was encouraged by—many more established comedians. People like Rick Overton, Louie Anderson and Dana Carvey.
How did cannabis first enter your life and how did it become an important part of your existence?
Doug Benson: Even though I grew up in SoCal, I didn’t have much experience with weed in school. It was when I became a touring comedian that I started smoking regularly. The weekend I remember really getting into pot was when I was working at a club in the Bay Area with Greg Proops and Brian Posehn. Those two hilarious dudes have been friends/smoking buddies of mine ever since.
What’s one deeper truth about the universe you’ve learned through cannabis consumption?
Doug Benson: That nothing matters!
What’s a more ridiculous experience you’ve had while stoned?
Doug Benson: I was hired to host a private event for a phone company’s holiday party in 2007, which was a battle of the 80s bands. I got to meet and introduce Tiffany, Thomas Dolby, Tone Loc, Vanilla Ice, and The Sugarhill Gang. Each group or artist performed two songs, and then the audience voted—on their phones, of course—to determine a “winner.” I had to perform stand-up while the event crew set up for each performance and I was way too high for the job. The crowd did not care about me at all.
If you’re wondering who “won” the battle, it was The Sugarhill Gang. In a landslide.
How has legalization opened the door for new and innovative ways to merge comedy with cannabis?
Doug Benson: I haven’t done this particular venue yet, but there’s an outdoor show running right now in Los Angeles where each audience member gets a cooler with beers and weed in it. I’m looking forward to getting on it because I’ve never performed a show in the U.S. where the entire crowd is allowed to smoke. That’s only occurred in Amsterdam and a few places in Canada, and it’s been glorious. Not as many laughs from the crowd, though. Mostly coughing and nodding.
Follow @youdontknowdoug and snag tickets to “Doug Benson’s Comedy Sesh” this 4/20