Once they’d settled in Los Angeles, Cheech and Chong landed their first record contract with producer Lou Adler, and they began working on comedy tracks in the early ’70s out of an old studio in Los Angeles, one where Charlie Chaplin had once worked. In 2015, they told the LA Times about one especially hot afternoon when Marin stepped out of the studio, purportedly to score some weed. Being a method actor, even when recording solely audio, Marin was in a large overcoat despite the heat, and when he returned to the studio, he was dismayed to find the door was locked from the inside.
Desperate to escape the oppressive heat, Marin began pleading with Chong to let him in, who, unbeknownst to Marin, was taking advantage of the situation to secretly record some genuine situational stoner comedy by egging Marin on. While Cheech desperately knocked on the door, anxiety and paranoia mounting, Chong continued to play dumb, repeatedly asking, “Who is it?” and teasing Marin until the latter got so angry that Chong “feared for his life.”
Thankfully, he was able to diffuse the situation when he played the recording back for Cheech, who recognized it for the comedy gold that it was. So did Lou Adler, who loved it but wanted it re-recorded in-studio, where the duo claims it lost some of its original magic. Thus came to be Cheech and Chong’s first hit single, “Dave’s Not Here,” which was an instant hit and helped establish the duo as comedy forces to be reckoned with.