Tackling Colorado's Stoner Immigration Problem: Behind the Viral "PSA"

Colorado-born comedians Nicole Conlan and Rollie Williams of Stevedore Comedy have hit the nail on the head with a satirical public-service announcement that's gone viral.

"Colorado Immigration Crisis: Keep These People Out" looks at the transplant issue that's been on the minds of many Coloradans since stoner immigrants began flooding this state in the green rush.

Conlan and Williams, the masterminds behind the hilarious video, which is on view below, were born in Colorado and now live in Brooklyn. They filmed the video while home for Christmas, and it's grown in relevance since — for obvious reasons.

We recently caught up with the comedians to talk about douchebags, marijuana MBAs and pot.

Westword: Are people taking weed too seriously?

Rollie Williams: I think people are going to take whatever they're doing at whatever level of seriousness they want. When weed is illegal in so many other states, it could concentrate the amount of people who take it too seriously into a small space; it creates an echo chamber. I don't think there's a problem with really getting into weed. Maybe putting all of these people into one room is annoying.

Nicole Conlan: One thing that was important: We didn't want to come off as seeming like we were anti-weed or that we didn't support legalization — because we very much do.

You point out the business-major stoners, who are capitalizing on the marijuana industry. Is this an archetype that was started in Denver?

Williams: It couldn't really exist anywhere else. Maybe in Amsterdam, but they seem a little bit more relaxed there. I mean, that's a totally fine thing. Hell, there is a ton of money in weed. We're making a ton of money in the taxation of it. The money is there, and if it supports a family, then great, please more dispensaries. More and more, but spread them out over the U.S. Don't concentrate them in one tiny city. 

Conlan: It was our way of just making fun of business majors in general.

Were you high during the making of this video?

: Yes.

Conlan: No, we were very much not high.

: I mean, no. I was high before we shot it, then we started shooting it. It wasn't like, "I have to get real high, I need to get into character." People who are high all the time, like high-functioning potheads — I honestly don't know a lot of people who are. But if they can, more power to them.

Whose idea was it to make a serious PSA?

Conlan: It was pretty mutual. To be honest, I think we may have decided on the PSA format because it was a little bit easier to shoot. We didn't need to worry about continuity, since we could spread it out over locations and time. 

Did you reach out to the comedians in the video? Did you know they'd want to be a part of it?

: We knew that they would. We had a bunch of friends who were comics in Denver who we knew we wanted to use. Actually, it ended up being so cold the first day, we had to reschedule. So every comic in the video is whoever was able to come out after we rescheduled the shoot. 

On Facebook, this video has gotten over 3 million views in a little over a week. Did you expect it to go viral to this magnitude?

Conlan: I don't think there was any way for us to predict that it would blow up as much as it did. But we had a feeling people would like it, because it's an election year, and it's a sentiment that a lot of people in Colorado have. But we didn't expect it to blow up the way it did.

Do you hate potheads?

Williams: No, I mean, absolutely not. I wouldn't self-identify. Honestly, I don't know if anyone would self-identify as a pothead. I probably smoke six times a week. As far as I understand, it refers to somebody who likes smoking weed. We are all for weed. You also won't find anyone who self-identifies as a hipster. The term itself is a hundred years old.

Conlan: We don't hate potheads; we hate douchebags. 

Is the Colorado Society for Keeping Douchebags out of Colorado real — and if not, can you make it so?

Conlan: It's not a real thing, but I suppose if you file the appropriate papers, maybe get an LLC, it could be.

Give me a taste of Stevedore's plans for future videos. Is weed a subject you want to stay on?

Conlan: We actually have another weed video already; that's the other one that's done really well for us, but we're not the "weed group" or whatever. That's not really our voice. We'll definitely try to stay away from weed for a while. If there's something funny, though, we'll make fun of it. I don't know when our next release is, off the top of my head. Funny or Die just featured one of our most recent releases, called "A Little Red Dot." We're trying to shoot a bunch of stuff right now, so our next video will drop sometime next month. 

Follow Stevedore on Facebook for more hilarious musings.  Here's the video:

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Lindsey Bartlett is a writer, photographer, artist, Denver native and weed-snob. Her work has been published in Vanity Fair, High Times and Leafly, to name a few.
Contact: Lindsey Bartlett