Doug Benson had an idea. For a man who smokes pot, that’s nothing new. But he did something unique for a marijuana smoker… he followed through on that idea.
“Super High Me” is a documentary/comedy inspired by Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me” with one very big twist.
Benson smokes pot for 30 days straight to see what will happen. Morning, noon and night, Benson smokes. But first he goes completely sober (alcohol and pot) for a month and takes lung capacity tests, a physical and the SATs, which he then repeats during his pot month.
I first interviewed Benson at SXSW where his film made its premiere. But then everything was stolen (notes, recorder, computer). Benson was cool enough to do the whole thing all over again, so first is my first official do over interview.
The film will be screening on 4/20 (get it?), at the Lakeshore Theater for free for anyone that wants to see it. You can also go to the official superhighmemovie.com Web site and request a copy of the film (for free) to host your own screening, and have your friends bring whatever kind of refreshments you can think of.
“Super High Me” will be released on DVD on June 17.
For a pot head, I was impressed that Benson was able to relay all of that information.
Bayer: You are my first official do over for any interview I’ve had. So my first question is, do you remember anything at all from our first time?
Benson: I think we were on a couch and a chair upstairs at the Omni Hotel, right? That’s about it. As far as the content, I remember finding it a positive experience, but other than that, there were interviews all day.
Bayer: It wasn’t because you were high?
Benson: I wasn’t high that day. If I have to set the alarm in order to wake and bake, it’s not worth it. I’m not that aggressively into being high.
Bayer: What did you think of SXSW?
Benson: I loved it. I had a blast. It seemed like the perfect place to debut the movie. Lots of people turned out, the second one, of course at 4:20 p.m., we had to turn some people away.
Bayer: What was the goal you had in mind for “Super High Me”?
Benson: To make a funny movie, that might also educate people a little bit in terms of what’s going on with medical marijuana. I know it’s not the point of the movie to bash people over the head with it. It’s just a matter of being a fairly interesting topic at this time, politically.
Bayer: Also, in the film they announce you were awarded the “No. 2 Stoner Comic of the Year.”
Benson: It was just an article saying, “Here are the top 10 stoner comics.” And I came in second place after Bill Maher, who I don’t even think of as a stoner comic, I think he’s pro-legalization. But there are plenty of comics that feel that way, it doesn’t make him a pot comic. And he certainly wouldn’t call himself a pot comic. And I’m not that crazy about the label, I’m a comic who talks about a lot of things, and one of them happens to be pot because I think it should be legalized and I enjoy it.
Bayer: Do you feel the movie is saying more about the legalization of pot, or more about medicinal marijuana?
Benson: It’s showing, I think, that medicinal marijuana should be legal and that once that happens, why can’t anyone just smoke pot in the privacy of their own home? If it’s regulated in a similar way as cigarettes and alcohol in terms of age and whether you can drive, then that theoretically should work out.
Bayer: Would you ever get more political about this issue?
Benson: I’m not trying to be political, I’m a comedian first, and pot head and activist about pot maybe fourth, fifth or sixth. It’s fun to talk about, and joke about, but that’s because it’s an adult audience that is usually drinking and possibly smoked before the show. I like talking about sex and alcohol almost as much as talking about pot.
Bayer: I’m interviewing Morgan Spurlock (the director of “Super Size Me,”) what should I ask him?
Benson: I heard he thought it was funny [that I did this] and he doesn’t feel ripped off in any way. I don’t know if he necessarily feels proud of it for basically inspiring it in a round about way. I would ask him, how stoked he would have been if he would have found bin Laden. I know he probably gets that all the time. I mean, you kind of know how his movie is going to end. If a filmmaker would have found bin Laden, he would have gotten the medal of honor.
Bayer: Do you recall the very first time you smoked up?
Benson: It’s a similar story to what I hear Willie Nelson has been telling. We’re both late bloomers on the pot thing. I tried it when I was 18, standing in the circle, but I wasn’t a cigarette smoker, I’ve never smoked cigarettes, so I went through the motions, but I didn’t do it right. Something happened to make it seem unimpressive. So then I walked away from it. It’s funny, cause as a kid I listened to “Cheech & Chong” records and thought they were hilarious. I wasn’t ignoring pot humor. But then I became a professional comedian, and lots of other comedians smoke pot and do so after the shows, so after a show they got high and I did. They just sort of walked me through it so I wasn’t doing it incorrectly and I enjoyed it. I was something of a pot mooch for like three or four years. And I say to kids in general not to smoke pot until you become a professional comedian.
Bayer: This would have been a different movie had it been about a schoolteacher.
Benson: Yeah, in fact a woman in England did something called “Super Skunk Me” that was a documentary for the BBC, and she doesn’t like pot, and it makes her crazy paranoid. Her idea was, I’ll show everybody how terrible pot is, but it’s just terrible for you lady, you shouldn’t have undergone that experiment. With all medication, some people are going to have a bad reaction. And if you have a bad reaction … don’t do it. With alcohol, people get drunk and do crazy things, and they don’t stop. They do it again. So it’s interesting.
Bayer: Are you almost disappointed that nothing drastic happened to you from smoking all that pot?
Benson: When making the movie, we thought if something bad happens, we have to show it. But, I sailed through the 30 days of smoking. Going into it, I thought it would make me so sick of pot, and it didn’t. But again, it was my job to smoke pot for 30 days.