You might know him as a UFC commentator. You might know him as a stand-up comedian. You might know him as the former host of Fear Factor, or as a famous podcaster. You might even know him as all of the above. Even still, there’s probably a lot still you don’t know about Joe Rogan. From his television beginnings to his ass-kicking credentials, there’s a lot more to Joe Rogan than meets the eye.
He ruined Carlos Mencia
Joe Rogan is almost solely responsible for ruining the reputation of once popular Comedy Central comedian Carlos Mencia. According to his own blog, while hosting an evening at West Hollywood’s Comedy Store in 2007, Rogan introduced comedian Kirk Fox as, to paraphrase, a funny guy who opens on the road for Carlos “Menstealia.” Mencia, who happened to be in the club that night, didn’t take too kindly to the insult. The Honduran-born comedian took the mic from Fox and said Rogan would never dare call him a joke thief to his face. The two then had what Rogan called a “meeting of the minds” on-stage. It didn’t end well for Mencia.
Rogan later elaborated on his blog, claiming Carlos has been a well-known joke thief within the comedy community, and that other comedians were afraid to call him out on his plagiarism due to his Hollywood and Comedy Central connections. He claimed Mencia’s thievery was so bad that Comedy Store comedians even had secret signals to indicate when Mencia was in the room.
When the dust settled, Mencia wound up being one of America’s most hated comedians, with his plagiarism being well documented. However, Rogan claims that he doesn’t, and never did, hate Mencia. It’s probably unlikely that Mencia feels similarly charitable toward Rogan.
He and Doug Stanhope took over 'The Man Show'
Created by Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla, The Man Show aired on Comedy Central for five years, from 1999 to 2004. Some people may remember the ridiculous sketch-comedy show, but not so many or them might recall that it wasn’t always Kimmel and Carolla steering the ship. The last two seasons of the show were hosted by Joe Rogan and fellow stand-up comedian Doug Stanhope.
Unfortunately, it really wasn’t smooth sailing for Rogan and Stanhope. The show offered them “ridiculous money,” Stanhope told Savannah Now. “But it was awful, it was so bad. We knew it was bad. They wouldn’t take any of our ideas.” Stanhope later went on Rogan’s podcast, where he named Comedy Central executive Zoe Friedman as the problem. Apparently, Friedman rarely let them do what they wanted, and always chose a less funny alternative. Rogan added that he thought a female executive probably shouldn’t have been running a show called created for, hosted by, and marketed directly to, men.
Behind the scenes issues aside, Rogan still managed to accomplish such things as introducing Fear Factor‘s official taste tester, Josh Silberman, who ate boiled pig uterus while getting a Juggy massage. With segments like that, The Wheel of Destiny, “Make Me Stiff,” and all the rest, it’s really no wonder why The Man Show doesn’t exist anymore today.
He almost fought a contestant on 'Fear Factor'
You probably saw at least one episode of Fear Factor hosted by Joe Rogan — but did you see the one where he almost had to put a contestant down? On one particularly rowdy episode of the Fear Factor, former Survivor contestant Jonny Fairplay — a notorious trash-talker — really got under the skin of fellow contestants Jonathan and Victoria. After taunting them extensively, Victoria decided she’d had enough of Fairplay’s verbal abuse and punched the obnoxious loudmouth with full force. In his role as the show’s host, Rogan got pretty ticked off, telling Victoria, “You can’t assault people! … If you and your husband hit each other, that’s one thing. You don’t run up and hit other contestants.”
Victoria’s husband, Jonathan, decided to stick up for his wife, and got in Rogan’s face. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t end well for Jonathan — though it could’ve been a lot worse. Rogan ended up restraining the contestant by grabbing onto the back of his head UFC-style, saying later that he was ready to “knee his f**king brain into another part of the universe.” Lucky for Jonathan, his brain remained in his skull, though he should’ve known better than to pick a fight with an accomplished martial artist.
He almost fought Wesley Snipes
If you know anything about Rogan’s fighting background, you probably wouldn’t challenge him to a fight. But actor Wesley Snipes did. When the Blade star ran into serious IRS trouble, Snipes’ team looked to set up a celebrity cage match with fellow action star Jean-Claude Van Damme as a means to earn a quick paycheck. But UFC producers suggested Snipes fight Rogan instead. Rogan was totally on board and confident he’d emerge victorious.
“[Snipes has] never wrestled,” Rogan said, “he never had a competitive martial arts match, whether it’s a kickboxing fight or karate fight. I was like ‘I’m gonna choke the (expletive) out of this guy. I’m gonna get a hold of him, and I’m gonna squeeze the (expletive) out of him, and they’re gonna give me a lot of money, and he’s probably not even gonna get hurt.’ That’s what I thought.”
Unfortunately, the fight never happened. Men’s Fitness says Rogan reportedly spent five months training for the match, only for Snipes to back out “shortly before fight night.” Even worse for Snipes, he spent three years in federal prison for tax evasion.
He's a staunch marijuana advocate
Joe Rogan loves weed, and is probably one of the most vocal and influential marijuana advocates today. In addition to regularly talking about marijuana on his podcast with both smokers and non-smokers, he’s a big fan of toking up before working out. In an official blog post appropriately titled “I like to smoke weed and workout,” Rogan wrote that “nothing compares to getting really high and hitting the heavy bag.”
Rogan is so passionate about marijuana, in fact, he might sound a bit like a raving lunatic to those who pass on grass. He claims he didn’t start smoking marijuana until he was 30, the age at which he realized he’d “been tricked” by special interest groups and major corporations — such as oil companies, private prisons, and law enforcement. He’s also claimed “there’s like a thousand different things that marijuana would fix,” specifically in the field of medicine, thus putting a large amount of blame on pharmaceutical companies. Furthermore, he’s argued that alcohol producers actively work to keep the drug illegal. Fight the power!
Of course, it’s wholly possible that he’s right about everything, but his passionate stance and conspiracy theories make it difficult for some to take him seriously.
He's a big fan of psychedelic drugs
Joe Rogan might be a well-documented pothead, but he’s also a pretty big proponent of psychedelic drugs.
In addition to once recording a podcast on acid, Rogan openly admits to taking acid recreationally — and doesn’t see much of a problem with it. In fact, the discussion of psychedelic drugs is a regular topic on his podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, and he often invites guests — such as ethnopharmacologist Dennis McKenna — to talk about mind-expanding drugs, and their effects on human awareness. Rogan has also spoken openly about his experiences with Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a heavy-duty psychedelic drug, which is responsible for vivid mystical experiences and healing rituals.
It doesn’t stop there: Rogan also narrated the documentary DMT: The Spirit Molecule, based off Dr. Rick Strassman’s book by the same name. In general, Rogan endorses the responsible use of psychedelic drugs, often citing that they’ve had an overwhelmingly positive effect on his own life and existence.
He's a hardcore conspiracy theorist (who draws the line at Flat Earth talk)
If there’s one thing Rogan loves more than fighting and comedy, it’s conspiracy theories. Over the years, it seems that Rogan has discussed, debated, and championed just about every conspiracy theory you can think of. For example, in 2012, he went on The Rosie Show with Rosie O’Donnell to discuss the 9/11 attacks. Both seemed to agree the U.S. knocked over the towers and that the whole thing was planned ahead of time. In addition, Rogan briefly hosted a show called Joe Rogan Questions Everything – on one episode, he questioned the Windsor Hum, a weird rumbling noise that’s been disturbing Windsor, Canada, for years. Rogan seems to believe the hum is part of a U.S. conspiracy to control the weather. Of course.
However, even he has his limits, namely all that Flat Earth stuff that somehow still exists. In March 2017, Rogan posted a picture of Earth from space on Facebook, writing “The Japanese Himawari–8 satellite … takes full earth images in high resolution … every 10 minutes … [arguments] there are no full images of the earth from space should tell you the level of bulls**t that’s involved in this stupid f**king ‘theory.'” He ended his rant with “Google is your friend.” Maybe he’ll eventually use Google to debunk 9/11 truthism, too.
His podcast has more listeners than you think
The Joe Rogan Experience has been around since podcasting’s formative years. In 2009, Rogan and his friend Brian Redban created the show in response to the pair’s interest in the relatively new medium of live-streaming. Only nine months after its launch, the show found a place on iTunes Top 100 Podcasts — and only took off from there. With roughly one-thousand episodes, the long-running show has been one of America’s most popular podcasts, winning Best Comedy Podcast in 2012, and being recognized by TIME as one of The 10 Most Popular Podcasts of 2015. Today, the show is downloaded over 30 million times per month. That’s a lot of listeners.
The Joe Rogan Experience is available free of charge for anyone who can’t get enough of, well, the Joe Rogan experience.
He refuses to interview knocked-out fighters (but sometimes forgets his own rule)
People who’ve just been knocked out are usually dazed, confused, and just not themselves for a little bit. Joe Rogan realizes this so, as he explained in his podcast, he takes care to not interview anyone after they’ve been KO’d. Refusing to take advantage of someone clearly not in their right mind is quite noble … until you forget yourself and do it anyway.
It happened on July 29, 2017, at UFC 214. After Jon “Bones” Jones KO’d Daniel Cormier, Rogan interviewed a definitely-not-at-all-there Cormier. On the verge of tears, after Rogan asked him what happened he stammered, “I don’t know, man, uhh. I thought the fight was going well. I don’t even know what happened. I guess I got kicked in the head.” His guess was as correct as the interview was cringeworthy.
Cormier’s trainer, Javier Mendez, was peeved at Rogan, texting USA Today, “[Cormier] had no business being interviewed. Bad move. Rogan probably feels bad.” He did — as reported by MMA Junkie, Rogan apologized via Twitter the day after, saying “I was beating myself up about it all last night. It’ll never happen again. My apologies to D.C. And to all of you.” Lest you think he was forced into the interview, Rogan clarified, “No one asked me to do it. It was 100% my f**k up.” Considering he said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea to interview fighters after they’ve been knocked out” in the middle of the interview, you have to wonder what Rogan was thinking.
He's all about sensory deprivation tanks
As you’ve undoubtedly learned by now, Rogan is a strong proponent of all things that open up the human mind — including marijuana, psychedelic mushrooms and DMT. But if you want to live the Joe Rogan way, and drugs aren’t your thing, he also highly recommends isolation chambers.
Invented by the late psychoanalyst John C. Lilly, sensory deprivation tanks allow a person’s mind to roam free by completely divorcing it from external sensory inputs — such as smell, sight, touch and taste. By floating in salt water that’s been heated to body temperature, an individual inside an isolation tank literally feels nothing, allowing for powerful meditative experiences otherwise reserved for expert meditators. Though Rogan claims the experience can be psychedelic, he also warns that the undistracted mind can be extremely self-analytical, and he says he’s “had quite a few experiences in there that were a little unsettling to say the least.” Still, he finds that the uncomfortable experiences that can come with feeling completely alone are the ones that have helped him grow the most.
In an effort to be like Rogan, VICE contributor Graham Isador gave it a go once, and found his hour in a rented isolation tank to be “incredibly zen.” If you’re not buying it — but are interested in giving it a try — find a float tank near you… and see what strange places your mind takes you.
He's a legit martial artist
Joe Rogan doesn’t just talk fighting — he’s an actual fighter who’s trained for decades. If you call him out because he said something you didn’t like, he’ll probably have you chewing on your spleen in 30 seconds.
As detailed by Black Belt Magazine, Rogan began competitive tae kwon do at age 15. Within four years, he’d won his first U.S. Open grand championship. (As the lightweight champion, he defeated the middleweight and heavyweight champions. Yeah.) Even today, long past the age where he could realistically pursue a legitimate fighting career, he trains as hard as he ever did.
So why didn’t he fight in the UFC when he was young? As he explained on a 2017 episode of his podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, he retired from tae kwon do and kickboxing in 1989 once he realized a lot of pro fighters were messed up for the rest of their lives. “I was getting headaches just from sparring,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to risk concussions and permanent brain damage. In addition, he quickly realized that, unless he wanted to teach martial arts for the rest of his life, there was no money in fighting at the time. There was, however, money to be made in stand-up comedy, which is why he chose to tickle ribs rather than break them.
He supported Ron Paul for president in 2012
Considering his staunch pro-marijuana stance, it should come as little surprise that Joe Rogan identifies as a Libertarian. As such, he’s less inclined to support typical, mainstream candidates, such as in 2012, when he endorsed Ron Paul for president.
During a December 2011 interview on America’s Morning News, the host asked Rogan what he would make the Republican candidates do on Fear Factor. His response: “The stunt would be elect Ron Paul.” He explained his stance further by saying he believed Paul was “the only guy who is saying anything that makes any sense whatsoever.” Lest you think he was just saying that on a lark, Rogan appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno a short time later, joining Leno’s other guest: Ron Paul. When Rogan came out wearing a Ron Paul shirt, he seemed almost starstruck, saying he was a “huge Ron Paul fan.” When Leno asked him what exactly about Ron Paul he agreed with, Rogan responded with, “Every single thing that comes out his mouth. … Everything he says.” Sounds like a slam-dunk endorsement, even if Paul almost certainly would never agree to eat live tarantulas on Rogan’s show.
His first show ('Hardball') barely lasted two months
Chances are you don’t remember Joe Rogan’s first sitcom, 1994’s Hardball, which lasted for barely two months. Rogan played an egotistical baseball player on a team full of misfits and perverts, which sounds right in his wheelhouse. Unfortunately, it never went anywhere, though Rogan insists it could have been much better than it was.
In an interview with Shecky Magazine, Rogan claims Hardball was the victim of corporate meddling. Originally, it was written by a couple guys who worked on The Simpsons and Married With Children, two comedies you might recognize as “good.” Unfortunately, the network decided they weren’t ready to actually run a show, so they hired, as Rogan so delicately put it, “a horrible executive producer with a big ego.” This guy apparently rewrote the entire pilot, mutating the show into something completely different. While we don’t know what the original Hardball was like, Rogan claims it was a “great show on paper” unlike the very not-great show on TV.
Fox apparently fired this producer just before the pilot was shot, but the damage had already been done. The terrible pilot made a horrible first impression, so Hardball struck out after six episodes. If nothing else, Rogan says the debacle taught him a ton about how the industry works (or how it barely works at all).
He accused Ken Shamrock and Kimbo Slice of faking their fight
It takes a ton of gumption to accuse athletes of dishonesty without proof, but if Rogan has anything, it’s gumption galore. He displayed this in 2015, after Kimbo Slice defeated Ken Shamrock in Bellator. Shamrock was unable to choke Slice out, and Slice rebounded and knocked Shamrock unconscious. On his podcast, Rogan said he thought the fight “looked fake as f**k.” He couldn’t understand why Shamrock never hit Slice when he had him down and how they seemed to be, as Rogan put it, “mouth to ear” an awful lot. Were they planning out the finish? That said, he thought Kimbo’s knockout punch was completely real, suggesting Slice was supposed to do one thing but went into business for himself and knocked Shamrock out anyway.
Shamrock vehemently denied faking anything, saying during an interview with Submission Radio that Rogan was being “irresponsible” by suggesting Shamrock was scripting matches like he was back in the WWF. He blamed his inability to choke Slice out on “technical errors,” whatever that means, and said people like Rogan “are saying [he lost on purpose] because they’re angry or they lost a bet … or they’re just trying to be hurtful.” Nothing’s been proven either way, but between one 50-something who can kick your teeth in and another 50-something who can kick your teeth in, best to just stay away from both of them.
He has his own clothing line called Higher Primate
Like many a celebrity before him, Joe Rogan makes part of his money by selling fancy clothing to adoring fans. His line is called Higher Primate, which makes perfect sense for someone who’s so into psychedelic drugs.
In addition to shirts with the line’s name, Rogan also sells shirts with slogans such as “Freak Party,” “I be gettin’ lucrative,” “Conquer your inner b***h” (perfect for kids’ parties), pictures of monkeys wearing gas masks, and a meditating alien chakra that, according to the description, could be “the path to Enlightenment or Evil.” If you shop at Rogan’s site and all you know about him is that he commentates on cagefights, you’re probably in for quite the rude awakening.
His father was abusive and Rogan hasn't seen him in decades
You almost never hear about Joe Rogan’s father, and that’s because Joe doesn’t like to talk about him. It’s not a very pleasant story — as he told Rolling Stone in 2015, he hasn’t seen his father in decades and doesn’t seem to want to. He said most of his memories of his father are “these brief, violent flashes of domestic violence.” Joe himself was never beaten, but it sounds like his poor mother dealt with it a lot. For Joe, the only nonviolent incident he seems to recall is Joe punching his cousin in the face, and his dad coming up to him not to discipline or dispel fatherly advice, but to make sure he didn’t cry. That’s not exactly warm, so it’s no real surprise that after his parents divorced, his father didn’t keep in touch. Joe hasn’t seen him since.
Rolling Stone actually tracked down Joe’s father, a retired cop from New Jersey. He didn’t admit or deny anything, and his response was basically a noncommittal non-answer: “I don’t talk about people the way they talk about me. That’s not in my DNA. What’s gone is gone.” What’s also possibly gone is the chance of father and son ever reconciling.
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