High Times at a Cannabis Comedy Show

Paul Gilbert
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readJan 24, 2024


We got toasted on a heavy dose of humor

Illustration Courtesy of Unsplash

My wife and I are sitting on cushioned pillows of a couch in the Urbana Dispensary lounge in San Francisco. Ushered in through a back door, it feels like entering a speakeasy. Forty people are scattered about getting ready for a cannabis comedy night. Our 24 year-old son and his girlfriend had invited us and we figured, “why not?” The Last of the Mohicans in our social circle, we still partake in an occasional buzz. And in increasingly stressful times, who couldn’t use a couple small hits of mirth?

Since you couldn’t bring your own, you had to buy some product to get into the show. Make sense-what would a cannabis comedy show be without cannabis? Tickets included a 50% off sale on premium flower from a local grower, Sonoma Hills Farm. Like purchasing great wine at half price, we received recommendations from a budtender rather than bartender. To get in the right mood, we purchased a pre-rolled joint of Pink Jesus (not sure Mary would approve), a strain that boasts notes of lavender and raspberry.

I don’t drink alcohol, so for me, consuming a modest portion of craft cannabis is like a night out savoring fine wine, imbibing one or two glasses, enjoying the heady aromas, flavors and a light, pleasant high. Sadly, this model has become increasingly harder to pursue in the cannabis world, as the market has been driven to make the product stronger and stronger. To be clear, this is not your dad’s weed and the AARP crowd beware.

Science has proven that laughing releases feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine and oxytocin into the bloodstream. A comedy show already has a congenial atmosphere, so mix in some cannabis and the endorphin party really gets rolling, and laughter becomes even more contagious as it ripples across the room. It doesn’t take long for the THC to kick off the LMAO effect and something one might normally consider merely amusing, wondrously morphs into absolutely hilarious.

Even before the show got started, everyone was lighting up joints, pipes, vapes and bongs, with a fog of fumes enveloping the room. Forget secondhand smoke, just breathing guaranteed a ride on the Marrakesh Express. Part of the admission also included free appetizers from a renowned Portuguese chef, Telmo Faria, leading to attendees inhaling the empanadas and custard tarts.

The crowd was well basted by the time the comic, Mike Rita, started his set. His stand-up didn’t feature the usual array of jokes and punchlines, but extended stories about his personal life, many referring to the plant of the evening. He shared a poignant story about his immigrant parents giving him grief for all the “mari-huana” he smoked, until his mother got sick with cancer. The side effects of treatment made her so miserable, he finally convinced her to try cannabis. Rita was on the road, so he told them to go to his house to get some edible cookies. By mistake, they picked up some really strong ones and worried, he called home to see if his mom was OK. His dad answered and after a short silence, said, “she want more cookies!”

Of course, Rita had the luxury of a crowd that was not only well-lubricated, but actually listening. He remarked that our audience was so chill, a stark contrast to comedy clubs, where alcohol-fueled patrons talk loudly and aren’t always paying attention. After a while, only the hardcore smokers were still puffing away, but Rita kept hitting a joint throughout his set. How he remembered all his material was beyond me. After continually ingesting the emissions wafting throughout the room, I forgot what he was talking about a couple of times. The old proverbial “I got stoned and I missed it.”

One of the most memorable moments of the show was when he asked the audience if anyone ever got high with their parents. My son piped up, “They’re right here!” and the crowd gave us a sitting ovation (doubt they could stand at that point). You will not find this inter-generational sharing in the Official Guide to Good Parenting. My father once said if cream cheese were illegal, he wouldn’t eat it. Of course, if he’d taken a couple of tokes of what we then called “pot,” he would have had a huge private stash of Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

After the show, we gathered up our belongings and hit the street. Thank goodness, we’d decided to Uber in and out of the city. I could just see me driving 25 miles an hour across the Golden Gate Bridge, my hands glued to the steering wheel like a Cheech & Chong movie. Knowing that we absolutely reeked, we told the driver where we’d been and he laughed, agreeing the smell was rather pungent. I had to air out my sweater for two days before taking it to the dry cleaner, so he wouldn’t get a contact high.

As the cannabis industry struggles with plummeting profits, the traditional business model demands innovation, and more dispensaries are hosting comedy nights. This is not only good for business, it gives consumers a chance to gather together safely and indulge in good cheer. It’s not often we can have a delightful, communal connection with a group of strangers.

We don’t have any plans for another night of mind-expanding humor, but a gleeful shift in consciousness is good for the soul. When the smoke cleared, I was reminded that laughter is the optimal gateway drug: totally natural, harmlessly addictive and with no such thing as an overdose. And the only symptom of a cannabis comedy hangover is a lingering, hazy chuckle.



Paul Gilbert
Human Parts

Writer, producer, creative director at CNN, the NBA and Heart at Work. Four decades into the game, it’s always about the story.