Whether you’re a Fear Factor, UFC, Man Show, podcast, or straight up comedy fan, there’s probably something you like about Joe Rogan. The multi-talented entertainer has made himself a household name in many different capacities. He’s been on several hit television shows and can be seen on the newly revamped Fear Factor, Mondays on NBC at 8:00 pm Central.
Rogan has taken full advantage of the podcasting craze. His incredibly insightful and hilarious podcast, “the Joe Rogan Experience,” features Rogan and his stand up comedy pals “enhancing their minds” to ask life’s biggest questions, and oddly enough, sometimes answer them. People in Chicago have a chance to see Joe perform stand up comedy live this Friday, January 27th at 8:00 pm at the historic Chicago Theater. GET TICKETS
Rogan began his career as a stand up in Boston and regularly performs around the country, often where his broadcasting job with the UFC takes him. Joe called me to discuss coming to Chicago, the UFC Heavyweight Division, Fear Factor, the “Menstealia” scandal, if the country is ready to legalize pot, and much, much more.
Did you realize how easy Overeem would have it in the fight against Lesnar and that all he would have to do is knee the body because of Lesnar’s recent surgery?
Well it wouldn’t have mattered even if he didn’t have surgery, that’s what Alistair would have done anyway. Alistair has some of the best knees in Mixed Martial Arts, that dude is a killer. People were sleeping on that guy. He had some losses in the past, but I think now, Alistair is one of the best heavyweights, if not the best heavyweight in the world.
Do you think Brock’s illness and surgery made him more vulnerable?
I would assume that it made him more vulnerable, but I wouldn’t know. I don’t know what his condition is. The real problem with Brock is that he’s a novice as a striker and that every fight starts standing up. Essentially he’s many, many years behind these guys. A novice striker standing up with the K-1 Grand Prix champion, Alistair Overeem, is a recipe for disaster.
How does Overeem match up with Dos Santos?
He matches up very well with Dos Santos. Dos Santos is a striker. Dos Santos only uses punches. Dos Santos is very good and he has a chance to win. In terms of betting, he’s the favorite, which I don’t really agree with. I would put it on even money.
Dos Santos has great hands and he’s very fast but you have to take into account Overeem’s experience and Overeem is able to use all four limbs, all eight weapons, elbows, knees, everything. He’s a master striker. There’s a difference between a guy who is a boxer and a guy who’s going to kick your legs out from under you and punch you and knee you. Especially when Overeem gets in the clinch, his knees in the clinch are ruthless.
On your podcast you talk about how as an adult you’ve never been in a fight. How have you avoided it? Don’t drunk guys come up to you and try to start stuff sometimes?
I haven’t been in a fight since I was a teenager. Most of them can be avoided. I’ll tell you what man, people don’t like getting their asses kicked. You beat someone’s ass then they come back and slash your tires or they hit you with a tree trunk.
If it’s at all possible to avoid fights, avoid them. This is coming from someone… I enjoy sparring, I enjoy Jiu Jitsu, I enjoy all that. But creating unnecessary conflict with people can be avoided, it’s a recipe for a sh*t life. That’s just my feeling. I don’t think it’s worth it. I mean, I’m prepared if sh*t goes down. It’s nice to know that you know how to defend yourself, but it’s definitely better to avoid it, without a doubt.
Fear Factor has returned with you as the host again. Listening to your podcast, it seemed like the first time around you had an unpleasant experience with it. How did they get you to come back?
Well it wasn’t entirely unpleasant. First of all, during a good part of doing Fear Factor before, I was also doing the Man Show which was a huge mistake. Trying to do two TV shows at the same time is a god-damned disaster. So there was definitely a mistake in that.
The group I worked with was a very nice group, the director, the producer, all the camera men and the people beind the secenes, they’re all great people. So it’s a fun work environment and they offered me a f**k load of money.
What went on before the confrontation with Mencia that night at the Comedy Store? Were you doing a spot that night, then it happened?
Yes, I was the one that was on the schedule, he wasn’t even on the schedule, he went onstage for the reason of “calling me out” in his words. He wanted to call me out. He went there to call me out because I kept saying he steals jokes.
What it was, was that he was on Comedy Central, his show was doing very well and he had this idea that he was something special, that he could go onstage and call me out and because of his popularity and celebrity at the time, I wouldn’t have anything to say about it. I don’t know what the f**k he thought, really. I think part of it was also suicide by cop. He kind of knew that he was a sh*tty guy and knew he was f**king people over so subconsciously I think he wanted to get called on it.
In the video you ask him if he really believes he doesn’t steal material and then you compare him to OJ, and listening to Maron’s interview with him it kind of came across as if he really doesn’t think he steals…
There’s definitely a pathologogy involved. It’s not just a straight lie, there’s a disconnect with reality and that’s one of the things that was really uncomfortable when I got onstage with him. When we were standing there and he was like, “You tell me what jokes I stole! You tell me what jokes I stole!” He was so confident, for one brief moment, for like a second, I thought “Wow, imagine if I’m crazy and this guy really doesn’t steal jokes. I’m just nuts and I’ve been calling him out on something that he never even did.” That thought actually flashed in my mind because he was so confident.
But then when we started talking about this joke and about that joke, then you could see him fall apart, you could see in his eyes, you could see all the doubt, and I was like, “Okay, I’m not crazy, he’s crazy.” But he was convincing me because he’s so convinced himself. It was a weird moment.
Have you guys run into each other since?
No, I’ve never run into him. If I did, I don’t give a sh*t man. I’d say, “I hope you don’t do that anymore, I wish you well.” I don’t hate the guy. The world would be a beautiful place if everybody was allowed to get their sh*t together and forgave people for a reasonable amount of bullsh*t. Not like rape and murder and stuff like that, but a reasonable amount of bullsh*t.
If we could forgive people for things, and move on, the world would be a much better place. I really hope the guy doesn’t do it anymore, I really hope the guy writes his own material now, but who the f**k knows?
Do you think the people who continue to give a guy like that opportunities, like club owners and network executives, when it’s well known that he’s stolen a lot of material, are as wrong as he is?
It’s close. I’ll tell you what, when it was going down in Hollywood before that video came out, it was obvious. Everybody knew it, and there were a lot of people who were in denial about it only because they were making money off of him. In that sense, yes, I think they were just as bad. But Comedy Central, they always had their head in the dark about it. They really didn’t know.
The video came out, then they knew and had some big meetings about it. I know for a fact that the head of Comedy Central called up Carlos’ manager and said, “What the f**k did you do? You put a plagiarist on my network.” Those were his exact words. The real issue is that these people don’t feel like they are the ones who have to lead the comedy community.
They feel like it should somehow work itself out. That’s ridiculous, that’s like buying stolen cars and saying, “You know what, man, I’m just selling cars. You people in the car world you need to figure out who’s stealing cars…” Everybody in the comedy world knew that that guy was a thief. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. They knew they could just turn a blind eye and profit on it.
Did you get dropped by your agency because of the video?
Yeah, they wanted me to apologize to him. I said, “Are you crazy? You’re talking to me about a criminal. And you want me to apologize to the criminal because I exposed him because this criminal makes you a lot of money.” I said, “I will quit you…” to my agent, “You will not get a chance to make this ultimatum. I will never be with you guys again after this. The fact that you asked me to apologize to this guy or you would drop me tells me all I need to know about your ethics. I don’t want anything to do with you guys.”
And then, of course, karma would have it, a year later he (Carlos Mencia) wound up leaving the agency anyways. He left them. Louie CK left the agency [before] when he heard about it, so did Nick Swardson. They were both like, “F**k you man.” Yeah, Louis CK is the real deal, man. He’s one hundred percent legit. He’s a hero to the real art of stand up comedy.
Dave Attell told me that the best comics “don’t care,” what does that mean to you?
I sort of disagree. I think you have to care. If you didn’t care you would go up and not worry about performing well. Stanhope (comedian Doug Stanhope) is brilliant, he’s one of my best friends, and I know he cares. He’s a great comic. You have to have a certain amount of artistic integrity you attach to the idea of being a guy who’s going to go up there and perform for a bunch of people that are there to see him.
I know Stanhope cares. Everybody cares, but it’s not a matter of whether you care, it’s a matter of getting to a certain point where you really know what the f**k you’re doing. You don’t worry. Like when Attell goes up, he’s not thinking, “I hope this goes well. Oh my God, my material…” At a certain stage it doesn’t exist anymore. At a certain stage it becomes, “Let’s go up there and get it.” You know what to do, that’s what he means by “don’t care,” I think he means you become this guy who’s not worried about anything anymore. You’re not looking to kiss ass and change your material for the audience or for network suits in the crowd. Stanhope cares enough to tour, he cares enough to keep writing, he cares enough to be constantly evolving his material. A lot of what holds a lot of comics back is fear.
You’re worried about things going badly, you’re worried about your material being up to par, you worry about a lot of things, but once it all comes together, at least until you throw that hour and a half away and come up with a new one, then you’re in a place where you don’t have to care anymore. Not care, but worry. Also, Stanhope has his own crowd, as does Attell, as do I, as does Louis CK, we have our own crowds now.
The old days I would show up at the Punchline in Atlanta and nobody would know who the hell you were and you’d go up onstage and hope that your radio appearances would entice some people into coming down to the show. And for the most part, you had to earn your respect, they didn’t know what the hell you were going to talk about. But now, people come and see you and they know exactly what you talk about, they know what you’re selling, they’re fans. And when you have fans the whole world is completely diffetrent. That’s where Stanhope’s at, Stanhope has fans.
When Stanhope goes onstage… He came to do my podcast last month and I drove him down to the Brea Improv and there were a bunch of Stanhope fans, man, yelling out his sh*t. They love him. It’s a totally different animal when people know what you do and they’re there specifically because they love you.
Speaking of Stanhope, when I interviewed him he talked a lot about the trouble you guys had getting bits on the Man Show and that the network would interfere a lot. Did that experience scare you away from working on a comedy show like that for a while?
I will never do a sketch show like that again. I definitely won’t do one on Comedy Central, it was a disaster. Before Stanhope and I did it they said, “Listen, we want you guys to do the most outrageous show possible, we want nudity, we’ll blur it out. You can swear all you want, we’ll bleep it out. If you guys get sued it’ll be great promotion for the show. Go crazy.”
So for Doug and I, it was a no brainer, we were like, “F**k it, man, let’s go do this.” Once we get in there, everything changed. Once the papers were signed and once we actually got there, then it was a bunch of unfunny people trying to influence the show. They were trying to interject their ideas about what they thought was good comedy and it was a disaster. But, you know what man, the whole idea of having a whole pile of suits and different people go over sh*t and decide what’s funny is not what makes a good show.
What makes a good show is when they leave you the f**k alone. When they leave you the f**k alone is when you write South Park, when you’re super successful. I know for a fact that one of the big reasons Chappelle left was because they wouldn’t leave him the f**k alone, they kept telling him what to do and they were influencing his material and his bits and his language choices. Louie is a perfect example. His show on FX, he does it all himself, that’s why it’s so awesome. When you have a comic, the only way you’re going to get the most out of that comic is if you let them express themselves.
Do you think network people are going to take the hint and let comics be comics anytime soon?
No, it’s too risky. Look at these f**king shows like any new sitcom, you can see how obvious it is that it was influenced and pushed. They move it in certain directions that they think are going to make it the most successful.
It’s very rare that you get a piece of work on television, anything, that comes from a singular viewpoint. You know what’s a good example of a great show that comes from a singular point of view, the Anthony Bourdain show “No Reservations.” He’s a chef, a hard working guy, a regular guy who wrote a book and became a celebrity. But if you watch his show, it’s so clear that no one ever thought A. that it was going to be the kind of cultural hit that it is, he does whatever the f**k he wants to do, and B. No one influences him, no one gets in his way, no one tells him what to do, and because of that, it’s a brilliant, brilliant show.
Because they don’t trip on it, they don’t f**k with it, and that’s how you make something good. If you get a bunch of different people in the room, and bunch of different chefs in the room, with their different ingredients for soup, it usually makes for a big mess.
Do you think pot is going to be the next big business in this country?
Well it should be, but the problem is the number one big business in the world right now that’s surpressing it is the pharmaceutical companies and they’re already a huge thing in this country. There’s already a massive means for pharmaceutical drugs, a massive market for them and a massive black market as well.
I would say that the illegal market for pharmaceutical drugs is f**king enormous. So they don’t want marijuana in any shape or form, they don’t want anything that you can grow yourself and use as a substitution for any of their products. So if they can find some way to demonize any natural subsitituion, absolutely they will, just as a matter of good business.
They don’t even realize how evil it is to try to make a helpful, beneficial plant with ten thousand plus years of human use… to make that illegal, they don’t even realize how evil that is. They just do it because they’re a business. They do it for profit. There’s that documentary, “The Corporation,” it’s a great documentary about corporations and how essentially when you get a giant group of people together and they operate as a corporation they really behave like a psychopath or a sociopath, they don’t worry about the repercussions of their actions on other people.
They won’t feel attached to the results and how other people suffer, they don’t feel it. And that’s exactly the case that we have here with pharmaceutical companies and marijuana. The fact that the Partnership for a Drug-free America actually gets money from pharamacudical companies is mind-boggling. The fact that drug companies can pay to make commercials against drugs is really an amazing, amazing thing.
Will they be able to stop it? Or is it a matter of time before it’s legal everywhere?
Well it’s bigger now than it’s ever been. Because of the medical world, but if we’ve got some crazy f**king hard-nosed Republican in office that really has his mind set on bearing down on the industry, then who knows. This NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) which just passed is very frightening.
It treats the entire United States as a battlefield, allows indefinite detention of American citizens with no warrants whatsoever, they don’t have to notify your family… There’s a lot of sh*t that’s going down right now that would make it much easier for someone to crack down on marijuana or anything along those lines and use it as an excuse to take away people’s civil liberties, treat these people as terrorists…
The problem is, it’s a f**king leaf, we grow it everywhere, it’s easy to grow.
You can throw pot on the side of the road, come back a month later, you’ll have a pot plant. It’s really that easy, a super, super, robust plant. And because of that I think it’s going to be very difficult to control. I don’t know if they’re going to be satisfied just with making it legal so that they can profit. They’re not going to profit one hundred percent. There’s going to be a lot of people that take big chunks out of that pile of money. So if it becomes legal, the real issue is, “legal how?” Is it legal like tomatoes? Like you and I can grow our own tomatoes? Or can you buy it only from them? Good luck trying to pass that. If the only way you could get tomatoes is by going to a grocery store, and if people with home gardens had to stop growing tomatoes, there’d be riots on the street, and rightly so.
That’s the situation we find ourselves in with marijuana. It’s actually a very similar situation.
Who else is performing with you at the Chicago Theater show?
Duncan Trussell and Joey Diaz.
Are you excited to perform in Chicago?
It’s a great town, I love it there. It’s a beautiful town, one of my favorite cities in the world. Chicago is real interesting, it’s the Midwest and it’s also a big city. I definitely like it better than Boston, that’s where I grew up.
Miguel Torres recently got fired by UFC President Dana White for Tweeting a rape joke… Is that inhibiting free speech? or Did Dana have to make an example to protect his business?
Well Miguel Torres had said a bunch of sh*t like that on Twitter. It wasn’t just that one rape joke, he had said a bunch of them. The UFC had already let these guys know, “Stop f**king doing this.” So it wasn’t like this was out of the blue. And you know what, Miguel was just trying to be funny, man. He was just trying to be funny. He’s not an assh*le, he’s not a rapist, and he realizes after the fact that he f**ked up.
Miguel on his own visited rape crisis centers, on his own donated money. So he really did realize that A. he’s a public figure and he has a responsibility, and B. he made a mistake. He tried to crack some jokes, that’s all it was, he’s a funny guy. He was just trying to be funny. My friend Patrice O’Neal, who died recently, had a great point when it came to people who say things to try to be funny then they piss a lot of people off. It comes from the same place as a joke that doesn’t piss people off, it’s just trying to be funny.
When someone says something that’s trying to be funny and it fails, you shouldn’t laugh at them, but you have to understand what the intention was. It wasn’t to hurt anybody or to promote rape, his intention was just to crack a joke, and it was ill-advised and it wasn’t funny and he paid a little bit of a price for it, but he learned a lesson from it.
And what Dana did is a wise thing, he let him know, “Hey listen, we’re not going to be the company that has a bunch of people joking about other people being victimized, it’s not funny and it doesn’t represent our brand which is already in sort of a strange place in the market place because it’s very controversial and viewed as being inhabited by thugs. *
Scott King has been published by The Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, Playboy and other outlets. Follow @ScottKingMedia on Twitter.
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Tags: Alistair Overeem, Brock Lesnar, Carlos Mencia, Chicago Theater, Chicago Theatre, Comedy Central, Dana White, Dave Attell, Dos Santos, Doug Stanhope, Duncan Trussell, Fear Factor, FX, Joe Rogan, Joey Diaz, Junior Dos Santos, legalization of marijuana, Louie C.K., Louie CK, Louis CK, LouisC.K., Man Show, medical marijuana, Menstealia, Miguel Torres, NBC, South Park, the Joe Rogan Experience, UFC