History’s Renaissance men have never come packaged quite like Joe Rogan. The former reality show host/current UFC commentator/psychedelic drugs advocate/podcaster/martial artist is a compelling mix of brain and braun — part Harvard, part Vegas. He’s something of an enigma, bringing a streak of intellectualism to a sport and demographic that could probably use it — the now-mainstreamed culture of mixed martial arts. Rogan is as interested in politics, socioeconomics and modern science as he is in round-house kicks and choke-holds.
A day in the life of his Twitter feed (@joerogan) refers to topics as diverse as the taxoplasma parasite, the state of country music, illiteracy in urban areas and beyond, as if he’s on a mission to bring a well-rounded education to his MMA-loving followers (for an idea of his demographic, his podcast’s sponsor is a masturbatory assistance mechanism called the Fleshlight).
Rogan has also waged a career in stand-up comedy, and has now reached a level of popularity where he finds himself championing other comics, via his often-comedy-centric podcast The Joe Rogan Experience. In short, he is a man of influence.
The gruff, Maxim magazine-compatible personality reached headliner status with the help of the notoriety from his stint as host of NBC’s reality show Fear Factor (and a previous role on the sitcom NewsRadio, as the electrician Joe Garrelli).
It first became clear that Rogan did not intend to parlay his fame traditionally when he went on a radio show some five years ago and gave a thorough lecture on the psychedelic drug DMT (Dimethyltryptamine), which he has unabashedly tried and studied. Rogan has since become something of a flag-carrier for DMT and other psychedelic drug movements, evangelizing about the importance of psychoactives in the process of self-discovery. "You’re not gonna go crazy,” he said in the radio interview
“All that stuff is gonna remove your ego, and it’s gonna explain to you what the world is really all about.” At least 2 million people watched the video, and DMT got its first exposure to a large, curious audience.
There’s something entirely refreshing about a television personality completely unafraid to speak his mind, without fear of confrontation. Of course, that frame of mind begs for controversy, as it did when Rogan called out fellow comedian Carlos Mencia for stealing other comedians’ jokes. While Mencia denies the claim, Rogan was adamant about calling the comic out for violating one of the industry’s most sacred unwritten laws, and in a venue where these matters should be dealt with — onstage, during a standup routine, face-to-face. These are the rules when Joe Rogan has a say. You’ve been warned.
Joe Rogan performs at Cobb's Comedy Club this Thursday through Saturday. Tickets here.