Friday, September 16, 2011
The Awesome Power of Joe Rogan - Comedy
Joe Rogan is more than just a talented comedian— he’s a 21st-century Renaissance Man. Aside from performing stand-up, he’s a commentator for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, was the host of the popular show Fear Factor, and played a key role in the late, great sitcom NewsRadio.
His Spike TV comedy special, "Talking Monkeys in Space," will air March 27, on Comedy Central, coinciding with its release on CD and DVD. Also look for him in the upcoming big-screen release, The Zoo Keeper.
Even with all his success, Rogan remains an outspoken proponent of marijuana legalization. As a user himself, he certainly debunks the idea that cannabis smokers never get around to doing anything.
In an interview with CULTURE, Rogan spoke candidly of his career, his cannabis advocacy, and why politicians deserve roundhouses to the head.
You’re a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Are you training in other forms of martial arts?
No, basically all I do is Jiu-Jitsu these days. I don’t have a lot of time for anything else. I hit the bag but that’s about it. There’s no brain damage, either. It’s a cumulative thing. That’s why I don’t like to box.
I’m a huge fan of martial arts. It’s the only sport I follow. I like combat sports but I used to watch professional pool. Pool used to be huge in America, and somewhere along the line it dropped off. People used to dress up in suits to watch it, but something happened and now it’s not as popular.
A related question: If you had the chance to kick one celebrity in the head and get away with it, who would it be?
That’s a good question. It would have to be a politician. It would be someone responsible for how fucked up the world is.
I always wanted to kick Kim Jong Il in the head.
Yeah, but that’s something the North Koreans should do. You can’t go overseas and mess with other governments like that. That kind of thing has messed up our country.
You mentioned in one of your shows that around the time you were doing Fear Factor, people forgot you were a comedian. What happened?
Well, it’s not that people forgot—they just didn’t know. They didn’t know who I was. They just assumed I was only a game show host. They just stop being funny. I think most people had no idea who I was.
What did you do to turn that around?
I just kept doing comedy. I think people were coming to see me because of Fear Factor. People came to see me and didn’t know what I was going to do. It’s a matter of doing more comedy. Putting out that last CD (Shiny Happy Jihad) helped out, plus the special on Spike TV, but it was a lot of constantly performing, becoming popular through word of mouth. I was just constantly moving forward. Now I’m more known for comedy and the UFC.
What can fans expect from the CD/DVD release of "Talking Monkeys in Space?"
I did a special for Spike TV, but there’s also a lot of behind-the-scenes material, question-and-answer stuff. We’ll give people microphones and let them come up and ask questions. It’s a fun thing to do at shows—it’s not some act, and people know that you are talking off the top of your head and end up asking interesting questions. It’s a more organic experience. If you like a guy and you see his routine, that’s nice, but there’s a difference between your routine and riffing.
Are you looking at doing any more movies or TV shows?
Well I did The Zoo Keeper recently. Kevin James is in the movie and I play his enemy. I know him from when I was really raw. I had known him way back when I was only doing shows for two years. I don’t mind doing movies, but I prefer UFC and comedy because I prefer not working with actors.
A lot of celebrities support the medical and recreational use of cannabis, but you really speak out about it. Why is this issue so important to you?
It’s important to me because when I was younger, I had the wrong idea about pot. I had this misconception that pot made you stupid and lazy. But it turns out that those people were just stupid and lazy. Pot won’t enlighten you if you are lazy.
A lot of people are victims of the propaganda that was released in the ’30s, and we’re still dealing with that now. Look at Partnership for a Drug Free America—it’s a business. We are being lied to, and it’s as if our society is being treated like nothing but infants. People just repeat what politicians say. They don’t research it.
People would be angry if they understood marijuana and what was being done to them because they are missing out on a staple of life. It allows you to understand yourself in a deep way, to look upon your actions and how they affect people. It’s a great thing for enhancing your creatively. It’s like a turbo charger. It’s not like it’s hurting me. The stuff that I write is better when I’m high.
Marijuana can help you find parallels in humor, and make those mental leaps. Comics who explore their own consciousness often use cannabis, mushrooms, etc. because those are tools that enhance perception. One comic who does that is Norm Macdonald. He’s a huge pothead. He has such an oddball, left-field brand of comedy.
What do you think about the effort in California to legalize cannabis?
I think the issue is that these people running the clinics are not following the law. They should follow the law and keep the clinics respectable, like placing them away from schools and communities. There’s nothing wrong with doing that. It’s just like liquor stores.
There’s something wrong with selling it only for medicinal purposes. California needs to change it to a system where it’s available for responsible use. When that’s done, people will pay for it, the state will get money from it and this will open the floodgates.
But I think the genie is out of the bottle. Thousands of people use it. People don’t have to go to some scumbag to get pot. It’s like we’re still living in the Dark Ages. It’s hypocritical that we have these laws in the Age of Information.
However, I wouldn’t want a strip club down the street. There’s plenty of room for dispensaries and liquor stores. They will get to the point they need the profit and they will take the chance. It’s changed the way people look at it.
Obama said he wouldn’t go after people unless they violated federal and state law. That really opens the door for responsible use. You allow it and then require people to get prescriptions, but after that, marijuana is going to be allowed, period.
Are you a medical-cannabis patient yourself?
Yes. I have been for the past six years.
Do you feel your support of cannabis has helped or hurt your career?
It’s impossible for it to hurt. What I wasn’t going to do is not be honest. What I want to do is to tell the truth. Anything I could gain by not talking about cannabis is something I don’t really want, anyhow.