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Talking Monkeys and the evolution of Joe Rogan

by Nick Zaino, posted Jun 20th 2009 10:35AM
Joe Rogan Talking Monkeys in SpaceIn his breakout role on NewsRadio fifteen years ago, Joe Rogan played Joe Garrelli, a maintenance man with deceptively deep springs of knowledge. In a sense, Rogan has been playing that role for his whole career, hosting Fear Factor and The Man Show, commentating for the UFC, while writing increasingly smart stand-up comedy. Rogan's new special, Talking Monkeys in Space (Spike TV, June 20 midnight), is his best work to date.

Rogan takes on the legalization of marijuana, Dr. Phil, and technology with brutal logic. His last television day gig, Game Show In Your Head, is over but he says he doesn't mind. He's still doing what he loves most - stand-up comedy and commentating for the UFC, and he's got a new Web series on Crackle.com, a sort of Inside the Actors Studio for stand-up comedians, he says will start within the next couple of months.

I spoke with him about all of that, how having a one-year old daughter has changed his perspective, how his personal philosophies have evolved, and the treatment of his frequent rival Carlos Mencia on a recent episode of South Park, in which Mencia was beheaded by Kanye West for stealing a joke he couldn't explain.

I'd never heard you do impressions before the Dr. Phil impression - what made you start with him?


I think it's hilarious. I think that these advice people - first of all, the notion that you can fix somebody in 30 seconds onstage in front of a live TV audience is completely ridiculous. These people have deep-seated issues, obviously. And then, what he's doing - especially the thing I pointed out where he told a guy that masturbating was as bad as cheating on his wife - what he's doing is fake. He's not saying anything real. He's saying something that he thinks is going to get people to think he's a certain type of person.

Which is why when the show is over he goes over to his wife and holds her hand and walks off with her. What, she just happened to fucking be there, by the stage? How gross is that? You stage affection with your wife to let everybody know you're a good guy?

Did you know befoJoe Rogan Talking Monkeys in Spacere you watched the "Fishsticks" episode of South Park that Carlos Mencia was going to be targeted?

I got a bunch of e-mails for people immediately after and I got a call from my buddy who said, "Whatever you're doing, stop what you're doing right now and I want you to go watch South Park. And he said, "Dude, they tore Carlos Mencia to shreds." I thought, okay, maybe they made fun of him. But then when I watched it, I was like, oh my god. I almost felt bad. When they beat him to death with a baseball bat, I was like, holy shit. Key word , almost. Put that in italics. Whatever. Karma is real. People get what they deserve. I think that's the worst character assassination I've ever seen on a television show.

You use Twitter a lot, what do you get out of it?

I like it as a promotional vehicle, but I also like it as a little writing exercise. Because it emphasizes the economy of words. You only have 140 characters to get out what you need to say. And I think for comedy, that's a very important and often overlooked quality. The less words you can get a joke through in, the better.

Do you see any wiggle room for legalizing marijuana from Obama's camp after his town hall remarks, where he dismissed the idea altogether?

His town hall remarks I think were silly but he's a politician. I think the real movement for legalizing marijuana is through information, through the Internet. I think people are realizing slowly but surely why marijuana became illegal in the first place, why it's currently illegal, and who pushes to keep it illegal. And the pushing to keep it illegal is Partnership for a Drug Free America. What they are, they're a company that's gotten millions of dollars from alcohol and tobacco companies, and they still get millions of dollars to this day from pharmaceutical companies. I mean, those are the people who have an active, vested interest in making marijuana illegal.

And when you watch those commercials - they're not making commercials telling you not to do crank. They're not doing commercials trying to keep you away from meth. They're doing anti-pot commercials. What the fuck is that? Why would you pick the most innocuous drug to target? Because that's the one that can effect profitability the most. That's the one that certainly will effect the profitability of pharmaceutical drugs. Just making marijuana legal would make at least 100 prescription drugs useless. I don't want to say that they'd be useless, but you'd have natural alternatives that you could make yourself. And probably more effective, and certainly safer, without all of the side effects that a lot of these pharmaceutical drugs have. That's why it's illegal. It's illegal because of economics.

Do you have any hopes in that material of reaching somebody who might not agree with you and possibly changing their mind or informing them?

The more people hear what they consider intelligent people talking about it and supporting it, the more they're likely to change their mind. People - a lot of people, at least - are easily influenced. And if you're someone they respect, if you're someone whose opinion they respect, and then they listen to you talk about it, they go, huh, I'll have to kind of consider this. I think there are a lot of people who are very very misinformed. There are a lot of people who have not just bought into the propaganda, but bought into the stereotypes. You think of stoners as being really dopey people who are lazy. You know why? Because a lot of them are. But that doesn't mean that marijuana's bad. That means that a lot of lazy people smoke marijuana. That doesn't mean marijuana's going to make you lazy.

That's where people get confused. That's where I think it can help if you have someone talking about it. Especially someone who doesn't represent the stereotypical stoner. I'm a cage-fighting commentator. I always say my mission in life is to bring together the meatheads and the potheads.

How much of the stuff you talk about in the special and onstage, in general, do you believe and how much is comic exaggeration? Like the reading minds being the next stage of evolution bit.

Oh, I definitely think that's real. It's natural. It's got to progress in that way somewhere. I think if you think about it, there's certain aspects of human beings where we display some sort of other-worldly ability to read each other's minds. Like, I think you can tell when people are lying. I really believe that. There's something about somebody that's talking to you and they're lying and you don't know why you know, but you know they're lying.

Do you think people have seen the smarter stuff you're doing and you've been able to evolve from that?

I don't think it's a matter of me letting people see it, it's really kind of a matter of, my philosophy and my personal outlook has gotten... different. I look at things different now. I look at things a different way and I approach them in my act a different way than I did in my past.

How much of your perspective now has to do with your having a daughter?

It definitely changes you, without a doubt. I'd say it makes me a more introspective person. It certainly makes you more aware of our origins as human beings, being born into this world and evolving from scratch. She's one year old now, and watching her progression and watching her develop, it makes you truly understand why people are fucked up. They're fucked up because of the input they receive. Unless it's some sort of a medical problem, obviously.

But most people are fucked up because they're receiving input from people and they're being programmed by people who have no business programming human beings. They, themselves, have fucked up programming. And they're passing that fucked up programming on to new humans. And it makes me feel bad for people that are fucked up.

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Jess

This is great. It's the shit they never tell you in DARE.
Check out this video on the whole medical weed situation: http://www.newsy.com/videos/in_pot_we_trust
What state is next?

June 23 2009 at 1:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan White

joe rogan is a down to earth guy that told it cocky but, true. I agree with almost all his comical criticizing.
Joe your hilarious

June 21 2009 at 11:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
GL

Rogan is good doing his UFC gig. You can keep the rest.

June 20 2009 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rich

Interesting interview. "Affect" though, not "effect."

June 20 2009 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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