If anyone needs a poster child for the powers of marijuana, look at Doug Benson.
The 50-year-old comedian grew up in San Carlos and El Cajon before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.
He started doing stand up when he was 22, but his career really took off after he had his first puff on pot at age 28.
Benson has turned his love of the wacky weed in a cottage industry, including a long-running stage show, The Marijuana-logues, and a movie, Super High Me, where he spent 30 days completely stoned.
The hometown boy will be back in town July 23 at the House of Blues where he will record his Doug Loves Movies podcast in front of a live audience in town for Comic-Con, which opens that night.
Benson recently agreed to be interviewed, provided it was only printed in a Q&A format.
The Comic-Con appearance is part of your Doug Loves Movies podcast series. You’ve done five seasons. When and how did it start?
About seven years ago a couple dudes approached me about doing a podcast. They said it could be about anything I want, so I went with my first love, movies! It was called I Love Movies and was only 30 minutes long but eventually I changed it to Doug Loves Movies and episodes are anywhere from an hour to 90 minutes. Or when the guests are extra chatty, even longer!
You record your podcast in front of a crowd, how does that affect the show’s dynamic?
It tells me and my comedian guests whether we are being funny or not. And it tells the listener, if they disagree with all the laughter, that they are wrong. Hee hee.
Can you tell us what movies you might be discussing? Or if there will be any special guests?
I can't tell you what movies we'll be discussing because that's up to what the guests have seen and want to talk about. And I can't tell you who the special guests are because secrecy is part of the fun. Plus guests cancel on me last minute sometimes, and I wouldn't want you to be disappointed if a Jon Hamm or a Sarah Silverman can't make it. Neither of them are booked for this one, by the way. Or they might be!
You are a native La Mesa resident who has been around since the Con first started? Did you go to it as a child? Will you be attending this year?
I was born in La Mesa but lived in San Carlos and El Cajon. So yeah, in my teens I made the trek downtown to Comic-Con. Was much smaller then, of course. It was mostly about comic books. But I was into it because of all of the Star Wars shit. I'll only be there the night of my show this year, because I've got another gig. But I'm happy to at least be downtown for that one night. Would hate to miss it completely.
You came to fame as one of the performers of the Marijuana-logues. Is it true you started standup at 22, but didn’t smoke until you were 28?
Those numbers are correct. Not sure how I managed to grow up in SD without getting into pot. But comedians set me straight.
How did it affect your style of comedy? Was it night and day?
I started talking about pot after I started smoking it, and people love pot jokes, as it turns out, so I have written a lot of them. I try not to rely on that entirely, but weed is a big part of my life and nationwide legalization is on the horizon, so it's a great subject. I'm really proud of my video podcast Getting Doug With High, because it showcases that lots of creative people smoke weed and don't necessarily get slowed down by it. Not too much, anyway.
What was it like growing up in San Diego? Did you feel it stunted your creative growth? Were you a metal head or a punk?
San Diego is a very nice place. I never would've moved away if I didn't want to be in show biz and Los Angeles didn't pretty much have the same weather. So it's great that I get to come home three or four times a year to do shows. I wasn't a metal head or a punk. I was a drama club nerd. And proud of it!
Is there any place you plan to visit while in town?
The House of Blues, where my Doug Loves Movies taping is, and wherever the weed is. I'm only in town for one night!
Anything else you want to add?
I have a new album out, called Gateway Doug 2: Forced Fun, that you can get on iTunes or at douglovesmovies.com. Thanks for helping me to remember to say that.