This Weed Joke Is As Potent As Today’s Weed

Ralph Barbosa. Photo: Don’t Tell Comedy/YouTube

For as frequent a muse as it’s been for comedians, weed hasn’t always led to the most inspiring jokes. “Stoner comedy” has a few reliable crutches: “Weed makes you dumb,” “Weed makes you paranoid,” “Edibles are too strong,” and “Have you ever stopped at a stop sign and waited for it turn green?” There have been great bits about weed, but the subject has been explored so thoroughly, from the oeuvres of Cheech and Chong to Doug Benson, that it’s hard to find fresh angles that elicit surprise.

That’s why, when Ralph Barbosa — a Texas comedian whose recent stand-up clip I was fed by YouTube without previous context for his work — began his set talking about how “amazing” the weed in California is, I thought, Here we go again. But then Barbosa went on to shatter my expectations.

“You guys did to weed what white people did to hip-hop,” he says in the clip. “You gentrified it and you got rich off it. Weed is so legit here. I bought it and the package even had a warning label on it. It said, ‘Use with extreme caution.’ I was like, Dude, I’m from a state where people still go to jail for weed. Trust me: I’ve been using it with extreme caution.

Barbosa’s ten-minute set, which was recorded on April 30 in a backyard in San Diego, continues in this vein. He finds inventive ways to tackle oft-discussed topics like social anxiety and the oddities of social media. Regarding his social anxiety, Barbosa says, “I feel like I’m an undercover cop at parties. I just walk around talking to myself, like, ‘Play it cool, Ralph. They think you’re one of them.’ And then someone will walk up and be like, ‘Hey, you know where the restroom’s at?’ And I’ll be like, ‘I don’t — I didn’t want to be here.’”

But it’s the way Barbosa repeatedly highlights political absurdities through sneaky, economically worded jokes about weed that impresses most. “Texas has not legalized weed,” he says of the policies in his home state. “We’ve been asking them to, and they just gave us more guns. We were like, ‘We just want to carry weed.’ They were like, ‘How about carry a bazooka?’ I was like, ‘I don’t want to.’ They were like, ‘No license needed.’ I like California style better. You guys were like, ‘Let’s make it easier for people to smoke weed.’ And Texas was like, ‘Nah. Let’s make it easier for people to smoke other people.’”

In the same section, he uses weed as a lens through which to explore Americans’ attitudes toward taxpaying. “A lot of people still don’t buy from dispensaries,” he explains. “They’d rather go to a dealer because dispensaries tax so much. So there’s actually been an increase in drug dealers’ profits, which proves the only thing Americans hate more than drug dealers is paying taxes. At least we know where the dollar is going, right? Mexico.”

Barbosa is one of the most recent comedians featured on Don’t Tell Comedy’s YouTube channel, a company recently spotlighted in a Los Angeles Times article to celebrate its fifth anniversary of organizing secret, pop-up shows in unconventional locations across the country. Per the article, these shows have gained a reputation for assembling lineups featuring the country’s most exciting emerging talents. Look no further than Barbosa, whose bright future is portended by the fact that he recently signed a deal to work with Aida Rodriguez on a special she’s directing for HBO Max.

This Weed Joke Is As Potent As Today’s Weed