15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Cheech & Chong’s Nice Dreams
By Alvin Ward
Laugh a little harder at the 1981 cult classic knowing these 15 behind-the-scenes tidbits.
1. Nice Dreams is the third Cheech & Chong movie and the second to be directed by Tommy Chong.
The first, Up in Smoke, was directed by Lou Adler. As director of Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie (the second film in the franchise) and Nice Dreams, Chong is officially credited as “Thomas Chong.” He would go on to direct two more films starring himself and Richard “Cheech” Marin.
2. Cheech and Chong were influenced by classic comedy duos.
For their characters, Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong primarily drew comedic inspiration from other famous duos like Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, and Martin and Lewis.
3. The name Nice Dreams was inspired by a friend’s ice cream truck design.
Chong’s friend, who designed ice cream trucks, made a drawing in which he put an “N” in the front and drew a “D” over the “C” in “cream” (so it looked like “dream”). A version of the design appears in the movie.
4. The movie originally called for Cheech and Chong to play landscapers.
Before settling on the ice cream truck idea, an early draft of Nice Dreams cast the duo as landscapers who secretly grew marijuana all over Los Angeles.
5. Actress and comedian Sandra Bernhard makes her big screen debut in Nice Dreams.
She plays one of the patients at the mental hospital at the end of the movie and is credited as “Girl Nut.” A year after Nice Dreams, she starred in Martin Scorsese’s The King of Comedy, starring Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis.
6. The bodybuilder whom Cheech ogles at the gym is Tommy Chong’s wife, Shelby.
She previously appeared in Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie and would go on to appear in two more Cheech & Chong movies.
7. Actor Stacy Keach stars as the inept Sergeant Stedenko in Nice Dreams.
He previously appeared as the same character in Up in Smoke.
8. The script for Nice Dreams was allegedly only 3½ pages long.
The whole movie was storyboarded, but most of the dialogue was improvised.
9. Casa del Wacko, the mental hospital in Nice Dreams, was based on a real halfway house in Hollywood.
A friend of Chong’s was institutionalized there after being arrested for heroin possession.
10. Infamous psychedelic drug advocate Timothy Leary makes a cameo appearance.
He plays the doctor at the mental hospital.
11. Howie Hamburger Dude is played by Pee-wee Herman himself, Paul Reubens.
Reubens also appeared as an early incarnation of the Pee-wee character in Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie.
12. The Donna character (played by Evelyn Guerrero) appears in three Cheech & Chong movies.
She’s in Nice Dreams, Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie, and Things Are Tough All Over.
13. The mental patient—credited as “Superman Nut”—who does the a cappella sound effects of a Jimi Hendrix song is actor Michael Winslow.
Nicknamed “The Man of 10,000 Sound Effects,” Winslow would go on to use his realistic sound effects talents in films such as Police Academy and Spaceballs. Nice Dreams was his first film.
14. You’ll soon be able to get some of Cheech & Chong’s ice cream for yourself.
A real life hemp-infused ice cream called “Cheech & Chong’s Nice Dreams Relaxation Ice Cream” is reportedly set to launch in the not-too-distant future.
15. Chong’s guitar playing isn’t just a hobby.
In real life, Tommy Chong was in a band called Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers, which was signed to Motown Records in the ‘60s and ‘70s. They had one Billboard hit called "Does Your Mama Know About Me."