After years of performing her soul-folk songs around the Denver music scene, Chella Negro hooked up with this town's blossoming comedy community when she joined the all-female sketch group LadyFace.
Proudly public about her affection for ganja, Negro was the ideal candidate for our Getting Stoned With series, in which we sit down with our favorite entertainers to get lit and ask some strange questions.
See also: - Kristin Rand, of the all-female comedy group Ladyface, talks standup versus sketch - LadyFace's Chella Negro: Dick jokes are dead, but sketch comedy is alive and kicking - Laugh your face off - Getting stoned with comedian Chris Charpentier
Westword: Most people don't get high the first time they smoke pot. Was this true with you?
Chella Negro: Yes, but I don't think it was very good weed. In Wisconsin, where I grew up, you had to get your pot from Chicago or Minneapolis; there was no such thing as "kind-bud." It was all schwag.
Did it come in a solid brick that you had to peel flakes of marijuana out of? And then seeds would scatter out of it, like spilled marbles?
Uh-huh. The other day my friend was eating those seaweed chips, and I had this instant flashback to Wisconsin: That's just what our weed looked like! My friend said she once found a dead bird in her brick of Mexican weed.
I grew up smoking brick-weed in Iowa, and I could definitely see that happening. The stuff would be transported inside moving tires driving from Mexico. But it did get you high...eventually.
Yup. Oh, right, but the first time I got stoned, it was on a show-choir trip. We were staying in a hotel, and a bunch of the kids had a party in their room. We smoked out of those little metal-cigarette pipes, and then we'd blow the smoke into the toilet.
Into the toilet?! Where's it gonna go?
That's the thing! [Laughs] I swear to God. You put your head right into the toilet and you blow out the smoke, and after a couple people do that, you just flush it. It sounds stupid when I say it now, but at the time I swear we thought it worked.
Maybe there's some physics there that are beyond me. But what I'm stuck on is the idea of getting stoned with a bunch of show-choir kids. That sounds awesome! Did you all break out into song and dance, jumping around on the hotel beds, like in Anchors Aweigh?
No, it was never like that. It wasn't as cool as you think. Everyone was such a dick. It wasn't like Glee at all.
If you had the ability to transcend the laws of physics and biology and swim to the bottom of the ocean, would you do it?
Would your ears not pop?
If this scenario can keep your lungs from imploding and your body from being crushed into the size of a Dixie cup, the, yes, we can keep your ears from popping.
I'm just me, swimming to the bottom of the ocean, comfortable. Then, sure, why not?
Sounds terrifying to me. What if you came across a whale skeleton or the remains of the Titanic? I can't imagine anything creepier. The ocean is the last frontier: We know less about the bottom of the ocean than we do the surface of the moon.
Given the chance, would you date Jesus?
Yes! Jesus seems cool -- why wouldn't I want to date Jesus? I love wine, and if I had a boyfriend who could make water into wine, that would be sweet. And he'd always be saying cool, deep shit.
It would come with some baggage, though. It'd be like dating Prince Harry.
Well, I don't know -- maybe. I would definitely get a record deal. Girl who dates Jesus gets a record deal.
You could probably get the perfect parking space everywhere you went.
Yeah, and I'd get to meet Bono. Not that that's a dream of mine; I just feel like Bono would hang out with Jesus. It would be Bono, the Dalai Lama and Jesus.
They'd all play ping-pong together.
Oh, that's such a fun visual. But who would be their fourth?
Yeah, he would run things.
Exactly. In the post-Rapture world, Jesus would have to pluck a few souls out of Hell, for strategic purposes.
That would make a great sketch.
Who do you think would win in a fight between Honey Boo Boo and a baby panda with rabies?
Hmm, that's a real thinker. I may have to go with Honey Boo Boo. She seems sassy and tough...but against a rabid baby panda?
Those baby pandas are pretty uncoordinated. But I imagine the rabies would sharpen it up a bit, like amphetamines.
They have those big paws, too, which are adorable. I think it could do some good clawing and screeching, rip your face off. How much Mountain Dew has Honey Boo Boo had?
Go-juice! Her stuff is called Go-Juice. It's a mixture of Mountain Dew and Red Bull. That's what they give her before she goes on stage.
I think I'm going to have to go to with the Panda. Honey Boo Boo is all pink, like a little pig.
Yeah, like her skin is made out of those Sno-Ball cakes. The panda could probably tear her to pieces in no time.... I am really stoned.
When I interviewed Chris Charpentier for this series, there was no end to his pot smoking. At first I thought I was annoying him, asking him to smoke so much for the pictures, but he was like "Nah, I'm fine. I can do this as long as you want."
He's like a concentrated little THC pill with a mustache. I'll bet if you cut a little slice off him and ate it, you'd be high for like a day.
Have you ever been stoned in a really uncomfortable situation? Either where you had some responsibility that was beyond your faculties, or where you were just stoned in an awkward place?
I'm a pothead and I'm a performer, so yes. Recently I was in this play for Ladyface, and afterward we went to this weird bar on Santa Fe. Real divey. But before we went in we got super, super high. The bar was like a college, towny bar from back home, lots of wood paneling. "This Is How We Do It" was playing. I was so uncomfortable, way too high. I tried to hide in the bathroom, but there was a long line. And then these three gangster guys walked into the bar -- who knows why they were there. They were all thugged out, and one of them was drinking out of a baby bottle. And not even a real baby bottle, but a toy one, like from a doll. It was weird. And I couldn't stop staring at them. So finally I walked up to them, and I was like, "What's in the bottle?" And he was like, "Girl, you don't want what's in here." And after a thirty-minute exchange, I find out it's codeine. And I'm like, "Y'all are drinking the szzurup?! The szzurup?!" And these dudes were like, what the fuck? And my friends were like, "Are you all right?" I'm sorry, this story makes no sense.
[Somehow, the conversation turns to Ryan Adams.]
Everyone tells me Ryan Adams is a dick.
He blocked me on Twitter. And that broke my heart -- my heart is broken.
What did you do to deserve that?
What did I do? Nothing.... Okay, so I did this podcast, These Things Matter with Kevin O'Brien and Taylor Gonda, and we did it all on Ryan Adams. Afterward I posted it onto his page, and he favorited it. And I was like, oh, my God. So then everything was fine, and then a while later he tweeted something about how Taylor Swift's new album was the most brilliant thing he'd heard in a while. And I replied back, "Hahahahaha! This is the best joke I've ever heard."...And then he blocked me.
I guess he wasn't being sarcastic about Taylor Swift.
But why would I think that someone of Ryan Adam's caliber would actually think that Taylor-fucking-Swift's music was brilliant?
Well, speaking of powerful women, here's a hypothetical for you: There's a female, third-party candidate running for president. Her platform includes legalizing gay marriage, federally decriminalizing marijuana, single-payer health care for all citizens, tax hikes on the rich, publicly funded charter schools, defense cuts and a free cockatiel for every family. She's way ahead in the polls, and it's looking like she's going to win. But two weeks before the election, the New York Post runs an expose revealing the candidate regularly engages in the eighteenth-century French social custom of cat-burning, wherein a bag of kittens are tossed into a pyre for a crowd's amusement. The candidate does not deny this. In fact, she intends to make the event a regular staple of Barbara Walters's annual Christmas at the White House special. Do you still vote for this candidate?
Is this a religious ritual?
Kind of. It's similar to witch burnings. Cats were associated with witches at the time. It was thought to bring good luck on the town, but after a while it just became a regular family affair, with children laughing and clapping. It would have been our equivalent to going to see fireworks.
Well...no, I wouldn't vote for her.
But gay people could get married, everyone could have health-care coverage?
And we'd have to burn cats once a year?
Yes, but only, like, twelve of them.
Twelve cats a year, and then we get a utopian society. Hmmm....Guess I'd have to go along with it, for the greater good. I wouldn't like it, but there's a lot of stuff on TV I don't like, and I just don't watch it.
Eventually it would become part of America's identity in the eyes of the world, more than cowboys or Snuggies.
More than McDonald's?
Yup. More than Walmart or Taylor Swift.
No, then, I wouldn't.... What would the gay people do?
They're pretty collectivist, so I bet they would do it, for the greater good. Let's just say she's got the gay vote. She's very well dressed, very sassy in interviews. They love her.
Well...I just can't go for cat-burning.
But you would date Jesus?
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Damn right. Bring it on, Lord and Savior.