Joe Rogan is not who you think he is. The stand-up comic, UFC commentator and former host of Fear Factor could likely kick your ass and steal your girlfriend, but there’s plenty more than meets the eye when it comes to the most quick-witted, straight-talking and insightful comedian on the circuit.
Joe’s new comedy album is called Talking Monkeys In Space, a CD/DVD release in which he voraciously dissects religious dogma, kicks well-researched and hilarious wisdom on everything from human evolution to psychedelics and brings a no-bullshit flavor brand that takes no prisoners and forces viewers to examine our own sacred cows, simply by outlining how indefensibly stupid most of them are.
We caught up with Joe earlier this week to discuss porn, psychedelics, female comedians and the culture of fear in America, among other hot-button issues. If you’re looking for a run of the mill product plug Q&A, you’ve come to the wrong place.
CraveOnline: It’s been a while since you taped the Ohio show that would become Talking Monkeys In Space. How strongly do you relate to the material now?
Joe Rogan: Well, you know, material is always evolving. So whenever you put it out it always feels like ‘ah man, I could’ve done more there, added a new tagline there…’ It’s just the nature of the beast. So many times I’ve done a CD and then the week after I record it I’ve got this new tagline that’s killer. And it makes the whole bit better. It happens all the time. But that’s just the process of comedy.
A friend of mine told me to look at comedy albums as capturing a moment. Instead of trying to make the perfect comedy CD or DVD or whatever, you’re capturing a moment in the process.
CraveOnline: The legends don’t seem to be defined by their comedy albums so much as supplemented by them. Agonizing over that particular moment in time would drive you crazy, I’m sure.
Joe Rogan: Yeah, but it’s also that you have to have something good out there first. So that way even if you’re not as happy with a new bit or album or whatever, as long as you’ve got something that you’re proud of first. For the longest time I didn’t have anything that I really liked, that I put out. Especially when I was doing too many things at the same time. I was doing Fear Factor, I was doing UFC and The Man Show, and I was trying to do comedy at the same time. I really just wasn’t dedicating enough time to it. I didn’t have enough time to dedicate to it, so I didn’t like my stuff as much. I didn’t like my performances as much. But now I’ve got much more time and I’m much happier with my stuff.
CraveOnline: You seem much happier overall these days.
Joe Rogan: Well doing Fear Factor was great financially, but my God it was so fucking gross and boring. There was so many times I was dong it where I was like ‘Really? What the fuck am I doing? This is so dumb.‘ But it just kept going for like six years, just kept rolling on and on and on. And there’s no way you can say no to the money. It’s just way too much money. So at a certain point in time you pay mental mortgage on it.
CraveOnline: You said something in a recent interview I couldn’t get out of my head: "If you look at all people in life, there’s a big difference between people who’ve experienced altered states of consciousness and people who haven’t." – I think that’s a very important idea. Do you think it’s related to establishing a more honest and analytical mind?
Joe Rogan: I think it’s related. I think you can be analytical and have an objective sense of reality without it, but it’s much more difficult. I don’t necessarily think it’s absolutely imperative that somebody have a psychedelic experience, but I do think that if you do have a psychedelic experience and you’re an intelligent, objective, analytical sort of person, you’re gonna have to throw the whole model of the world that you’ve created away. Everything that you’ve neatly tucked into a category, all the things in life that you’ve just kind of taken for granted – those will all be thrown into jeopardy. Now it’s chaos. Now it’s ‘What the fuck is this?!’ Now you realize that life itself is psychedelic. The whole experience. We’re just used to it.
CraveOnline: Undoubtedly, that just raised an eyebrow for every reader who’s never experienced psychedelics and think it’s all hippie nonsense.
Joe Rogan: The whole notion of the fact that we’re on a planet – it never comes up in life that we’re in space. It never comes up that the most insane thing you could possibly comprehend – literally infinity – above your head. It’s not like there’s a wall, and behind that wall is infinity. No, fuckin’ infinity is right there. And there’s nothing stopping us from getting hit in the head with fuckin meteors or asteroids or getting nuked out of existence by a gigantic fuckin’ supernova… All that shit can happen. It’s all right there. And that in itself is psychedelic. What we do in life, the nonsense, all the weird aspects of our culture, everybody freaking out about Tiger Woods and this fucking health care thing and all this nonsense – we’re all just flooding ourselves with distractions because we don’t want to look at how fucking crazy this existence is. The planet’s spinning a thousand miles an hour around this gigantic nuclear explosion while these people roll these machines with rubber tires over this hard surface that we’ve laid down over the planet so that we can easily move ourselves back and forth.
CraveOnline: That need for distraction is an important thing to keep in mind when you look at what the popular news programs and tv shows are these days. Sensationalism and tabloid reality is all the rage, and the culture of fear is digging in like a tick.
Joe Rogan: That’s not the reality TV, that team shit. That’s Fox News shit. It’s not reality, it’s tribal stuff, like we’re on the Republican team, and they’re on the Democrat team, that’s also more distractions.
CraveOnline: Speaking of, I just saw a news piece about a "new civil war" brewing. The Christian Right, Tea Baggers, cultivating this baseless outrage, this retard-celebration need to "retake America."
Joe Rogan: It really is like a Cohen Bros. movie. If you look at Sarah Palin, her press conferences and her rallies, she’s right out of one of their flicks. She introduced John McCain the other day and it’s just so crazy. You hear her talk, and she’s saying nonsense. And they’re cheering for this nonsense. It’s so shocking and frightening. And every time she’ll say something about Democrats everyone will boo like they’re fucking 12. Like, you guys get to vote – this is incredible.
We have the Large Hadron Collider and nuclear weapons, the internet, and we have retards that get to choose our leader. Everybody says the media perpetuates these things – I’ve heard that about television shows, ‘the media’s programming America’… they’re programmed too! That’s what people don’t understand. The people who are putting together CSI: Las Vegas or Fear Factor or any big distraction, the people putting those things together are just as much a victim of it. Those people watch those goddamn shows, those people are a part of it, they’re doing exactly the same as everybody else.
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CraveOnline: It keeps coming back to comfortable distractions. We’re living in this gleefully gluttonous culture of vulture vicariousness – look at everything that’s popular on TV – we thrive so much on tearing people down that entire categories of programming devoted to it. Magazines that sell outrageous, totally-impossible-to-believe celebrity tabloid bullshit sell more than everything else combined. We celebrate and hysterically defend idiots with influence.
Joe Rogan: It’s definitely a strange time in a strange world. It really is like a movie. Reality really is theater. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s all so nonsensical, ridiculous and chaotic. And I’m hung up on this Sarah Palin thing. I’m obsessed with this bitch.
CraveOnline: You ended part two of your GQ guest blog with "Palin for president, bitches. Let’s make it happen." What’s frightening is that some people are going to take you seriously. The level of stupidity that humans aspire to at this point in history is just amazing.
Joe Rogan: A lot of it is who you’re hanging out with. That’s so important – who you’re surrounding yourself with and what kind of beings you communicate with. I’ve gone to places to do gig and talked to guys after the show who are just fucking starving for someone to talk to who thinks like they do. I’ve had guys run up to me with questions, and wanting to talk to me about all this different shit. They’re fucking starving.
That’s really what it’s like, there’s nobody there that thinks like this. Because if you live in a real bible-belty sort of place, and I’ve been to Omaha, Nebraska and all these different places… there’s a lot of cool fucking people who live in these places that are stuck. They’re stuck and they’re people that have grown up with the internet so it’s not like it was 20 years ago or even ten years ago, where you grew up in a town like that, and people imitate their atmosphere. You’re sort of programmed a certain way because of your environment. That’s all you know. But we don’t have that anymore because of the internet. Because of the internet we’re all communicating with each other all across the board, so you’re getting information from people all around the world, hitting a much more diverse slice of culture. A much more open and comprehensive view of the world. So these kids that are growing up in the middle of nowhere, they’re not the kids of 20 fucking years ago. These kids are goddamn starving, surrounded by retards and ridiculous fucking laws that were created in the 1800s.
I think there’s a groundswell of consciousness in this country. People are starting to be more aware of how fucked up things are. This just hasn’t trickle down to our leaders yet, or up, or whatever.
CraveOnline: I’m curious to see how much they’ll be able to get people to buy into armageddon. If strange things start happening before Dec. 21, 2012, natural disasters intensifying and so on – I’m eager to see how hard they’ll be selling the rapture.
Joe Rogan: Yeah, that’s a good point. I mean look, when people get scared that’s when it’s easiest to talk ‘em into bullshit. You know? Once people get scared, all bets are off. I don’t know if natural disasters are necessarily gonna intensify, but we are, as a human race, like an anthill sitting in a field. And that anthill has known nothing but that anthill its entire life – an ant’s lifespan isn’t long. And the other older ants die, the new ants keep building, and that’s all they’ve ever known. Well one day some fat kid comes along, and just decides to stomp on that anthill. He crushes that anthill and their entire world is forever changed.
That’s all so possible for mankind. We’re living on that anthill. At any moment in time a giant fucking chunk of metal and rock traveling 45,000 miles an hour can come out of space and come slamming into the Earth. Yellowstone’s Caldera volcanos threatening to blow up and kill everything on the continent. Everything in this country. Every man, woman and child, dead. Anything could happen at any moment. There’s so many different things that can happen to us, and probably have happened to past cultures.
CraveOnline: More than likely, given what we’ve dug up.
Joe Rogan: There’s a guy named Graham Hancock who’s focused on all these different cultures all over the world and different structures that they’ve made. He’s done work on Machu Pichu, and he’s done work on the Pyramids and the Sphinx, and his claim is that the human race has gone through these cycles of destruction and rebuilding many, many times. And our idea of human culture is just this current wave. When we talk about ancient cultures… the oldest known culture is Sumer, where Iraq is. That’s like 6,000 or so years ago. That’s just about all we know. There’s cultures before that, but they’re all like… fuckin people who made pottery and left some shit behind. There’s not much. But what Graham Hancock’s assertion is, is that there were very advanced cultures many many thousands of years before that. And something happened to wipe them all out. A lot of it dates back to somewhere around 10,500 BC, somewhere around the time or very close to the end of the last ice age, which ended very abruptly. What he believes is that something happened back then that killed off a gigantic chunk of the population of this planet, including the wooly mammoths, the sabretooth tigers and so on. All of these stories of cataclysmic disasters, stories of Noah’s Ark and the Epic of Gilgamesh, all these stories of floods and catastrophes are all related to this very real event that’s happened many, many times over the course of history.
CraveOnline: That idea lends itself to something else you’ve said previously: "The way we’re living is exactly the way you would think a culture would be at the end of its time." On a larger level it works, with the wars and famine and horrible injustice, but it also hits home with American culture, creating this champion of gluttony and self-indulgence to the point where becoming a morbidly obese non-thinker is not only acceptable, it’s downright American.
Joe Rogan: It’s what happens when things get soft and there’s no spiritual understanding to go along with our technological understanding. there’s an imbalance. We’re capable of doing shit so much more profound and powerfully compared to our ancestors. 200 years ago, the best way to get a message from New York to California was a horse. Think about how crazy that is! The best way to get a message somewhere was by a dude riding an animal. 200 years is nothing! That’s three human lifespans, birth to death. We’ve gone from that, to the point where you can send a video on a fuckin’ device that’s in your pocket across the Earth in seconds. A moving image from your pocket to someone in Australia, and they’ll get it in seconds.
CraveOnline: It’s given porn an entirely new universe.
Joe Rogan: I know, right? You feed people’s desires, man. I mean it’s some insane number, the percentage of websites on the internet that are porn. Soething like 35% of all internet downloads are porn. Think about that, man! You know what’s incredible about porn? They’re still making it. Like who has jerked off to all of it? Is there one fucking guy that’s beat off to every porn video ever, showing up at the store on Tuesday morning like ‘You got the new shit? Where’s the new shit?’
CraveOnline: People are obsessed with the newest and latest. The money’s really going out of it though because of the internet, and since everything’s free these girls are doing scenes for a fraction of what they used to, getting so much nastier than ever…
Joe Rogan: And it’s all like double anal, really sick shit. These girls are just gonna wind up cannibalizing themselves. I mean what else is there to do? What they’re gonna wind up doing is some form of prostitution, which is just as bad. A lot of girls use porn to give themselves a name, then do feature dancing at clubs, and some of them wind up hooking. It’s tragic.
A certain level of porn really does become dehumanizing. It’s not about two people getting it on, it’s ‘I wanna do this thing to this girl that I’ve been fantasizing about.’
CraveOnline: Can you name some female comedians that stand out? It seems next to impossible for them to break out, except for Sarah Silverman and a few others.
Joe Rogan: There’s a chick named Morgan Murphy, she writes for Jimmy Fallon and does stand-up. She’s really funny. There’s not that man though, man. It’s way harder. It’s way harder for a chick because there’s certain shit that we don’t want you talking about. Like Sarah Silverman gets away with being gross and talking about vulgar and offensive stuff and all that because she’s pretty and sexy, and that’s her selling point. She manages to get away with that. But for the most part, girls who get away with that are monsters. What’s that big beasty chick’s name? http://www.morganmurphy.net/morgan_murphy/home.html
CraveOnline: Lisa Lampanelli?
Joe Rogan: Yeah. And that’s all structured, I don’t feel like any of it’s coming from the heart.
CraveOnline: Well her two favorite words are "nigger" and "dick," and she uses every combination of the two she can, and makes crazy money on people getting off on her talking like a longshoreman.
Joe Rogan: Yeah, she’s got an act, and she’s making money off it. I mean, good for her, nobody’s getting hurt. But it’s hard for a chick to do comedy. It’s not as open for them. You can’t talk about politics or have any sort of controversial opinion without people asking ‘Well who the fuck are you? Some chick, trying to tell me? I’m a McCain supporter, damnit!’ You know what I mean? So many different subjects are harder to breach when you’re a woman. It’s like running with weights on.