Joe Rogan has found success in so many formats– film, television, commentary for UFC and one of the most listened to and talked about podcasts in the entire genre with The Joe Rogan Experience. It would be easy for Rogan to take some time off to focus on all his other outlets. But fortunately for his fans, he has never turned his back on performing stand up and recording specials. In fact, he says that the different formats he works in actually fuel each other (more on that below).
Friday he released his fifth hour special, Joe Rogan Triggered, on Netflix, and it may be his best special yet. Rogan takes the stage at the Fillmore in San Francisco with explosive energy, and dives right into subjects like edibles, the intelligence of dolphins, the lack of intelligence of more than a few segments of the human race, raising kids, tigers in captivity, and of course there’s a healthy dose of political issues. Rogan barrels through a ton of topics, tackling each one ferociously. All Rogan fans will love the new special, but even those who haven’t followed Rogan’s path so far should check out Triggered on Netflix.
Last week, I got the chance to talk with Rogan about his new special, who inspires him, how he keeps current in so many disciplines. The conversation, as you might expect did not fit into a standard interview format. Rogan is fascinating and his mind works so fast. In just over half an hour, we managed to go deep into a list of topics- some of which got weird. We would start talking about the election or the internet, and before you knew it, we’d be discussing how soon humanity would develop the ability to read each other’s minds, or whether thoughts were actually life forms in their own way. Rather that cut up all the conversations into little quotes and quips, I just chose some of my favorite Rogan thoughts here, kept them largely intact, and organized them by topic. It’s a great read.
Scroll down to read some of Joe’s thoughts about the universe, the future, and of course, the election.
Rogan on Election 2016: Trump is the King of the Assholes
“It’s hard to believe that Donald Trump is that close to being the fucking president of the United States,” Rogan told me, saying it’s so bizarre it almost feels like we’re in a simulation. “Comedians are kind of torn in a lot of ways because in one way we’d love to have Trump win, because it would be so ridiculous. It would be like you’d get constant gobs of material every day,” But as human beings, he admits it’s not really all that fun. “We’ve slipped so far as a culture. That it’s actually possible that that guy might be the Commander-in-Chief of the greatest army the world has ever known. It’s really weird times.”
Rogan had a few things to say about Clinton too, calling her “insanely corrupt.” “When you read all these different analysis of what she’s done as far as her email servers or the Clinton Foundation, or any of the other things that have taken place, it’s like, God, I wish we could do better.”
There’s a lot of other people out there that are also assholes, and they’re very excited that an asshole is running for president.
“I mean a lot of people feel like the American people aren’t being represented, but what he represents is a totally unique thing in that he’s an asshole. There’s a lot of other people out there that are also assholes, and they’re very excited that an asshole is running for president. Not only that, but an asshole is not just running, but he’s the Republican representative. You’re seeing this kind of behavior from people that are his supporters that you never saw before.”
“It’s weird because I think they didn’t know that they were represented before. It’s almost like they’re excited. It’s like, ‘Yeah, we got one of us.’ It’s very disturbing.”
Political Correctness vs Being Assholes
I asked Joe if he thought that the same assholes he’s talking about are also the ones complaining about political correctness. Although we are always anti-censorship, is it possible that the people who bitch the most about the PC police are actually just the assholes?
“Yeah, well it certainly is possible, right? There’s two arguments going on there, right? I think in some ways, yeah, the PC police is kind of annoying and gross. There are people that are recreationally offended. They’re looking for opportunities to be offended. They’re looking for what I call the green light. I can get offended at that. It’s not whether your rationally offended, or whether you’ve actually objectively looked at things and decided there’s an issue here and you should speak out about it because you feel like there’s an injustice being done or there’s a real problem. There’s a lot of people that are just upset at nonsense and stupid shit. There’s definitely that.
But then there’s also a lot of people that are looking for an excuse to be an asshole. I think that’s a lot of what you’re seeing from Donald Trump supporters. You’re looking for people who are excited. They’re excited at the potential for being an asshole. Then they look at her record and they look at what Hillary Clinton has done, they look at all the corruption that’s really obvious. They look at all the WikiLeaks news that’s come out, all the different emails that they’ve released, where it shows all the different, when they had conspired to keep Bernie Sanders out. What someone like Colin Powell actually thinks of Hillary Clinton. It gives them fuel. They’re like, “We’re right!” It gives them more of a license to be an asshole. There’s a lot of things going on. There’s a lot of things going on there.
It’s both that people are upset with politically correct folks and they’re upset with people being– a lot of what political correctness is…is people like to control people. They like to tell people what to do. They like to be able to say, ‘You can’t say that.’ Then that person has to listen. People love doing that. I have little kids and they love correcting each other. They do, they’re like, ‘you shouldn’t do that, you can’t do that. Mom, she’s doing that. Mom, she’s touching that.’ That’s a lot of what people are doing.”
“In a lot of ways, I think that’s one of the things that people find so infuriating about political correctness is that so much of it is just about control. So much of it is about someone having what they believe is the green light to tell you not to do something.”
Censorship: The Mistaken War to Ban Bossy, Bitch and Cunt
We talked about why censorship is bad, and Joe was particularly bothered by the movement that tried to ban the word “bossy.” The movement to ban the word was started in 2014 by a group called Leanin.org. The idea behind the movement was that the word “bossy” was considered inherently sexist, and it was believed that the stigma attached with the word discouraged girls and women from being assertive and seeking leadership positions.
“Well, fuck you okay? You can’t take “bossy” away,” Rogan said. “You need to fucking go out in the real world. Go out in the woods and try to forage for food for a couple of days because you’re just way too invested in this bizarre culture war.” The word “cunt”, Joe agreed, is in a similar position. “Look, there are some people that are cunts. Cunt is the right word for those people. Every now and then, you’ll run into the right person.” One example of the right person as far as Rogan is concerned, is Elizabeth Bathory. For those, like me who didn’t know, Rogan explained that Elizabeth Bathory was a very wealthy woman who would torture beautiful women. “She would abduct particularly attractive peasant women, and torture them, and kill them, and murder them. That’s a cunt, she’s an evil cunt. You think about that. You think about that, that woman existed. You’re like, oh, what a fucking evil cunt. It’s the right word. It’s the right word for her.”
But Rogan agreed that there are good and bad ways to use a word like cunt. “It doesn’t mean that you should use it flippantly and all the time for everybody. It doesn’t mean that it means the same every time you say it. You could say it to your friend in jest. You and your friend could be joking around and she could say something to you and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, you’re such a cunt’, and you both start laughing. What language is supposed to be about is about intent. It’s about displaying or reflecting intent. Projecting and broadcasting intent. It’s not when you’re the word police. When you start coming down on people for the use of the word ‘bossy’. Come on. It’s ridiculous…. That was also one word that they were trying to get people to stop using where everybody openly mocked them. Like, just fucking relax. You know?”
After agreeing on the right way to use the words bossy and cunt, we moved on to the greater issue of censorship, and how to solve all these communications firestorms. “Censorship hurts in a lot of ways because if you deny that words are about intent and expression is about intent, then you give words magic,” Joe explained. “We have too many of those fucking words as it is. We have too many words that have too much of an impact, like racial slurs. Racial slurs are probably the worst. They define someone as less than human with one succinct word. The fact that that’s possible is very disturbing. Giving words power of course, I mean, Lenny Bruce talked about that. He had a whole bit about that way back in the 1960s, that still, to this day, if you listen to it, it’s incredibly powerful.”
But Rogan isn’t really worried. He believes that the combination of human evolution, and technology is going to iron out most of these communication related problems we’re struggling with. “And this,” he said “is going to get really weird.”
You’re going to be able to express yourself through thoughts. We’re going to be able to read each other’s minds and we’re going to be able to record each other’s memories.
“Whether we’re a decade away from it or two decades away from it, we’re going to be able to express ourselves through non-verbal communication. I think we’re going to be able to express ourselves not through a written language or through a video where you speak and someone hears that video. You’re going to be able to express yourself through thoughts. We’re going to be able to read each other’s minds and we’re going to be able to record each other’s memories. All these things are inevitable. It’s just a matter of how long do they take. At this moment in time, it’s like the last gasp of struggling with the language, I think it is in a lot of ways really similar to … I think it’s just a transitory phase.
I think that ultimately what technology is doing is dissolving boundaries. Dissolving boundaries between people and their ability to communicate with each other. Dissolving boundaries between people and their ability to understand where each other is coming from. I think in a lot of ways also dissolving boundaries between nations and languages. With all these translation applications now, I read people from other countries, I read their Instagram pages, and there’s that little button that says translate. I love that. You translate them and you get to read whatever the fuck they’re saying.”
This is why, he said, he doesn’t think things are going to continue to devolve. “I think one of the things that’s coming out of all this stuff– even though there’s the PC police, and then there’s the assholes who want the right to be assholes, and there’s the trolls online; there’s all these different people. One of the things that a lot of them have in common is, they have a lack accountability for their actions. Occasionally accountability makes it their way.”
Rogan does have hope for society, and part of that hope comes from the potential for society to police itself. He recalled a story about a Reddit troll whose identity was uncovered a few years back. (I couldn’t remember the details at the time of our conversation, but I’ve since looked it up and would assume he was talking about Violentacrez, who was outed by Gawker’s Adrian Chen in 2012).
“They found out where he lived and what he did and he got fired from his job. They went to his job and they said, we just want you to know that this is the guy that works for you. This is all the crazy shit he says online about people. This is the horrible things that he said to people. He’s doxed people and found out where they lived and given their addresses online. That guy was an asshole and became accountable for being an asshole because the boundaries between him and what he was doing, his anonymity, and the hate that he was projecting, was eventually dissolved. I think those boundaries are going to be dissolved for everything.”
That’s where the mob is important. Where the government is not doing it’s job, the police are not doing their job, someone is not finding this person. Well, Anonymous steps in and they find that fuck.
“I think more people are going to– whether they’re unconsciously taking it in, or they’re consciously taking it in– I mean, how many people that have been outed like that guy was on Reddit for being a piece of shit, how many people have taken that moment and reflected and go, ‘Man, I wasn’t really even aware of what kind of an impact I was having on people by being such a piece of shit.'”
Rogan said that yes, mob rule can be frightening when it’s unnecessary and unbalanced. But he said it’s not frightening when it’s some guy who likes to kill puppies with a hammer. “You know, when Anonymous can find that person– that’s where the mob is important. Where the government is not doing it’s job, the police are not doing their job, someone is not finding this person. Well, Anonymous steps in and they find that fuck.” In that sense, he says, the mob is important, and he believes in our higher nature winning out. “I think we’re more aware of what’s real and what is ethical than we have ever been before. I think it balances itself out more than it ever has before.”
Given the success of Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, and his gig providing color commentary for UFC events, he could easily walk away from stand up and focus on other things. But, Rogan said, he loves all the formats he works in, and the way each of his different jobs helps to strengthen his skills in the others.
“I got really, really fortunate in that all the different things that I do, they kind of feed off each other. Stand-up comedy for sure feeds off of podcasting. Podcasting, it helps promote the stand-up comedy, it helps create the stand-up comedy because you have these really intense conversations with intelligent people and you explore ideas in depth in a long form conversation over many, many hours. I think you also get much better at podcasting, and conversations in general as an art form.”
“Then the UFC stuff, just the pressure of doing live commentary in front of millions of people and trying to be super objective and also analyzing all the patterns that are happening– I think that’s an excellent mind exercise in a lot of ways. Also, it highlights something in martial arts that’s very important to me. I think it’s a very powerful tool for developing your human potential. All those three things together, I’m just really lucky. I’m a blabbermouth. I can’t shut the fuck up, and those three things together, I’ve figured out a way to make a living doing it.”
Since the podcast feeds his standup, I asked Joe who inspires him. After doing 850 podcasts, he said he has been inspired by a lot of his guests. “I try to be self-motivating, and I try to be someone who’s disciplined. I do that, but I get a lot of the fuel for that motivation and for that self-discipline from other people. From other people’s work, from their thoughts from their accomplishments,” he said. A few he mentioned included renegade Egyptologist John Anthony West, ancient cultures expert Graham Hancock, and Randall Carlson, an expert in asteroid impacts. “I have had so many different really fascinating people from nutritionists to doctors, to psychologists, to sports experts. People and the way they think and the way they approach life is fascinating.”
Rogan told me that at the end of the day, he’s a fan of his own show, and he doesn’t mean that in an ego-driven way, he just loves listening to the conversations on his show. “I’m a fan too,” he said, “I don’t even know how the fuck it’s happening. It’s sort of happening on its own.”
And that inspired some deep talk about aliens and the power of thought. Joe told me he sometimes feels like the podcast made itself, more than he feels that he’s responsible for creating it. He explained. “There’s a lot of people who believe– there’s a concept of us being influenced or contacted by aliens. I don’t know if you ever gotten deep into that stuff, but there’s a lot of people that believe very heavily that aliens have influenced human beings, in some really bizarre and ridiculous ways. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re not right, who knows? One of the more compelling thoughts to me is that, What is a life-form? In terms of, we think of a life form as being, like it has to have a heart beat, or it has to have blood, or it has to be some sort of a plant.”
It’s entirely possible to me that we’ve slept on what ideas are, and what ideas really are is some sort of a propagating life form
This is an amazing time for comedy, and Joe and his friends have all agreed we’re in a sort of golden age for the industry. He credits the internet and podcasting for giving voices to some brilliant thinkers, like Duncan Trussell. “Duncan, who’s a brilliant comedian, and a brilliant thinker, he doesn’t even have a body of work, other than his podcasts. You can’t really find Duncan Trussell stand-up specials. He doesn’t really put them out for whatever reason. He’s a game-changer, I think in a lot of ways. He one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever talked to in my life and one of the most unique thinkers.”
Ari Shaffir is another game changer in comedy. “He’s a game-changer because there’s a lot of people that claim to give a fuck, Ari doesn’t give a fuck. He really doesn’t. That guy expresses himself in a completely honest way.” Joey Diaz, who he called “the funniest human that’s ever lived,” and a “savage” made his list, and he also brought up Bill Burr. “I think Bill Burr is brilliant. He’s one of the most prolific and funniest and most active comedians that we have working today. I think this is an amazing time. There’s a lot of them. There’s a fuck-load of them. This is a really good time for stand-up.”
Joe Rogan Triggered is available on Netflix now and you can find out everything in the Rogan-verse at JoeRogan.net.