Coming to a city near you, stand-up comic Joe Rogan headlines the Maxim/Bud Light Real Men of Comedy Tour. But before he hit the road, the former Fear Factor host hit Punchline Magazine… with theories and hard truths.
By John Delery
Like the inventive but usually defective electrical devices that his TV alter ego rigged on numerous episodes of NewsRadio in the 1990s, switch on comedian Joe Rogan…and he goes off.
“It’s not amazing to me that we’re in Iraq specifically,” he says, shifting thoughts and gears and revving the conversation from first into overdrive, “It’s amazing that human beings are still having wars, that we’re still blowing shit up. We have access to all this information, yet we’re still exactly how we were in the ’40s, the ’30s, the ’20s and pre that. It’s bizarre. We’re a strange organism, the human being. We’re the only one of the animals, so far as we know, that’s aware of how fucked up we are, but we don’t change anything.”
Do not mistake Rogan — now traveling with Charlie Murphy of Chappelle’s Show and former Last Comic Standing champion John Heffron as part of the Maxim/Bud Light Real Men of Comedy Tour — for some dour social scientist dissecting the madness inside an enormous petri dish. Consider him an alert social surgeon who stands onstage, opens up the world, and hoots at what he finds inside.
“If you look at the earth like a living organism,” he continues after recharging himself, “and who’s to say that it’s not, our definitions of life are very narrow. It’s very possible that there’s life all around us all the time, and we just don’t have the senses to detect it. So if we really are on this living organism and if you were flying over the mountains heading into LA and you saw all the mountains and the ocean, and it looks all beautiful and natural, and then you stumbled onto LA itself — that looks like cancer. It’s big, it’s brown, it stinks and it gets bigger every year. What the fuck is that? That’s not a growth?”
He may have acted dumb on TV, but Rogan is much brighter than dimmer-than-a-night-light Joe Garrelli, his NewsRadio character from 1995 to 1999. And he certainly thinks about more than how to gross out the nation, his function on Fear Factor, the how-low-can-people-go show on NBC that every week tested the tolerance of contestants’ digestive systems.
Rogan also speaks more thoughtfully than he did on The Man Show, the former satirical and hysterical male-chauvinist pigsty on Comedy Central. His theories about life tend to be more scatological than anthropological, but audiences understand his twisted-into-funny-shapes logic.
“I have a theory on human beings,” Rogan says. “We like to look at ourselves as if we’re something separate from animals, or overlord of all the other animals. But what we really are, if you look at the big picture, we’re like a very complicated form of bacteria. We’re no different than mold on a sandwich.”
Did he receive Sam Kinison’s corneas? After all, Rogan appears to observe the world though the same set of absurd eyes that Kinison once did.
“New Orleans,” he says, continuing his rant, “they’re rebuilding…again! Why? Get the fuck out of there. Isn’t it like below sea level? There’s not supposed to be a city there, you fuckin’ retards. Oh, but it’s always been there. Well, fuckin’ move it. Move it to somewhere above the ocean, you assholes. Why the fuck are you rebuilding in that same panhandle? You’re at the bottom of a toilet bowl, and there’s a river rushing to swallow you up again, you fuckin’ retards.”
Rogan, like all comedians, jokes to provoke laughter. But he also performs to purge his percolating mind. Once it starts, the geyser of disdain sprays everyone in its proximity.
“If you were an alien life-form coming here to view Earth,” he says with the eruptive force of Old Faithful, “you wouldn’t see individuals. You’d see a swarm of this one life-form that’s devouring this one organism, the earth. I mean we’re literally in a battle right now to see who gets to suck off the main vein of the planet. That’s what this is, this a war about oil, right? Doesn’t everybody kind of agree to that? Oil’s got something to do with it, for sure. Antiterrorism is the fuckin’ flag we’re waving, but most intelligent people believe that oil has something to do with it. Well, what’s that? That’s the blood of the earth, man. That’s how crazy we are. We have constructed our entire society on the blood of the earth. This is a very, very twisted world we live in.”
It’s a noxious environment for us everyday animals, but it’s a healthy one for stand-up comedians like Rogan.
“The dumber people are,” he says gratefully while finally decelerating, “the more there is to talk about.”
Form more information on Joe’s current tour, visit www.maximonline.com/realmenofcomedy. To see Joe’s tripped-out official Web site, visit www.joerogan.net.