A friend of mine shared Cheech & Chong’s Get Out of My Room with me when I was visiting his house back in 1985. I thought the album was so funny that when I returned home, I told my dad all about “these new comedians you just have to hear!” A few minutes later my father showed me his collection of Cheech & Chong vinyl records, informing me that the comedy duo wasn’t quite as new as I thought they were.
Cheech & Chong were a comedy duo who took stages by storm in the 70s and 80s with their drug-fueled humor. Their stand-up comedy led to a series of comedy albums, and their comedy albums led to a series of movies that were either based on or contained bits from their comedic performances.
By 1985, times were changing. While Cheech & Chong were still trying to squeeze every laugh they could from two perpetually stoned characters, we had Nancy Reagan in the White House telling people to “Just Say No,” and arcade games telling us “Winners Don’t Use Drugs” each time we put in a quarter. It was clear Cheech & Chong’s style of humor would not last forever, and Get Out of My Room ended up being their last comedy album before the pair split.
Each side of the cassette has two running jokes that the rest of the bits hang from. On the first side, we get two college radio disc jockeys telling dumb jokes and performing dumb jokes. Three of the tracks on the first side are “Dorm Radio 1, 2, and 3.” Of the remaining four, three are songs and one is a comedy skit. The skit, “Sushi Bar,” is a one-joke skit that things offered in sushi restaurants are weird and gross, including things like wharf scrapings (“sometimes it’s crunchy, sometimes it’s slimy, but it’s always fresh”), half-live baby seal (“they just cook the back half!”) and whale anus (use your imagination). The three songs are “Love is Strange” (in which Cheech desperately tries to get a date over the phone), “I’m not Home Right Now” (a series of outgoing messages left on Cheech’s answering machine), and the album’s one hit-single, “Born in East L.A.,” a parody of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” The “Born in East L.A.” video got regular play on MTV and led to Cheech’s first solo film, with the same name.
Side B is one long string of related skits except for the opener, “I’m A (Modern) Man,” in which a big burly man (who is blind) argues than an effeminate man is not a man. This is followed by “The Music Lesson,” in which Cheech & Chong portray musicians who accidentally electrocute a mentally challenged student, “The Stupid Early Show,” a fake morning radio program, “Warren Beatty,” (the guys call Warren Beatty’s answering machine and hear sex in the background), “Juan Coyote,” (a commercial for a Toyota dealer who smuggles people across the border), “Radio News” (the Stupid Early Show interviews the musicians who killed the mentally challenged boy), and finally, “Get Out of My Room,” the song the musicians were writing when the boy was shocked to death.
Where to begin?
Despite being one of my favorite comedy albums back in the 1980s, today, most everything here feels dated. Tracks like “I’m Not Home Right Now” and “Warren Beatty” revolve around answering machine humor, which I’m guessing would be lost on the youth of today, as would be the mystique of sushi bars (they’re all over today). The repeated attacks slams against a gay man on “I’m a Modern Man” are more likely to elicit gasps than laughs today, which leaves us with the “in between” Dorm Radio and Stupid Early bits, which are nowhere strong enough to hang an album on. Today the album’s only redeeming single is “Born in East L.A.” — the close runners up, “Love is Strange” and “Get Out of My Room,” aren’t all that close.
The album seems short by today’s standards. Each “side” is only 20 minutes in length, so there’s not much time to get things moving forward. Another oddity; I listened to this cassette so many times that I knew (and know) every bit, word for word. On the CD release of Get Out of My Room, the only two references to “the f-bomb” have been removed. If you know where they were, the editing really stands out. Throwing the f-word around doesn’t make or break the album, but it seems odd to me that of everything contained on this album, that’s what they found offensive.
I can only recommend this album to others like me who enjoyed it in the 80s and are looking for a trip down memory lane — but beware, without your rose-tinted glasses on, the past looks a little smokey.
Born In East L.A.
Dorm Radio I
I’m Not Home Right Now
Dorm Radio II
Love Is Strange
Dorm Radio III
I’m A (Modern) Man
The Music Lesson
The Stupid Early Show
Get Out Of My Room