Speakeasy with Doug Benson

Comedian smokes out the Laughing Skull June 4-7

To the casual TV watcher and comedy fan, comedian Doug Benson may seem like little more than a pothead making a career out of smoking weed and joking about it. But the truth is, there's much more to him than that. Benson, the star of The Marijuana-Logues and Super High Me, a regular VH1 contributor and national-headlining comedian, is a gifted writer, talented performer and sincere legalization activist. That being said, he is kind of a pothead. Benson performs at the Laughing Skull Lounge June 4-7.

You've officially made a successful career out of smoking pot and making fun of pop culture. What's it like living the dream?
You know, I can't complain. It's not bad at all. It's kind of ironic though that Michael Phelps lost millions for smoking pot, and it's making me hundreds.

Do you actually perform stoned?
Yeah, most of the time. At this point people just assume I'm high all the time anyway, so they'd be disappointed if I weren't.

How often do people come up to you after the show and offer you weed?
Pretty much after every show, and now sometimes even while I'm just walking on the street, people come up and ask to smoke me out.

So are you ever stressed out ... by anything?
I'm like anybody, you know? There are always travel hassles and planes that don't take off. I still have bills to pay and get parking tickets just like everybody else.

Chicken or the egg: Did you smoke pot first and then start doing comedy, or did you begin in comedy and then start smoking weed?
I was a comedian first. Growing up I was in to George Carlin and Cheech and Chong and all that, but they didn't really turn me on to it. I didn't really start smoking that much until I started traveling a lot with other comedians, who, for some reason, always seem to have weed.

How long have you been doing comedy, and how often are you on the road?
I've been doing comedy for about 15-20 years now; I definitely wasn't an overnight success. But the road is pretty constant for me. I live out in LA and go to New York for VH1 stuff, but I'm usually performing in a different city every weekend.

What has been better for your career: VH1's "Best Week Ever," NBC's "Last Comic Standing," or The Marijuana-Logues and Super High Me?
The weird thing is it's all sort of come together. I have fans from all three, but the bottom line is it's all based on pot. My jokes are all either about pot or written while I'm stoned.

How much of the VH1 commentary do you improvise?
It's mostly written ahead of time by me and the staff writers, but sometimes I'll just go and riff on camera, and then they keep the best of the best.

The venue you're performing at in Atlanta is a very small comedy room. Do you prefer to perform in front of big or little crowds?
I like either setting. I've been doing shows in front of 400 people and they're cool, but they end up just becoming rowdy pro-pot rallies instead of listening to my jokes, so I like the intimate settings too.

Are there any dark secrets about you that people wouldn't expect?
I don't know that it's a dark secret, but I actually really like Broadway shows and musicals.

Alright, I'll give you this chance: What's your best argument for legalization?
If someone is sick and it's going to make them feel better, and they're going to smoke in their own home, then what's wrong with that?

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