We called up Joe Rogan earlier this week hoping to shoot the bull about tomorrow’s UFC card. Instead, we got a full education about humanity’s impending peak point, the thievery of war, Ashton Kutcher, and psychedelic Internet dance-porn. But that’s how it goes with Joe, whether you’re listening to his stand-up comedy CDs or watching him explain things to Mike Goldberg during UFC broadcasts — not only are you entertained, but you actually feel smarter afterwards. Of course, he did run down the GSP/Penn matchup for us, as well as share stories about his early days with the UFC and fill us in on his upcoming comedy special. So read on and be enlightened…
CAGEPOTATO.COM: I saw on your website that you did some standup gigs in Austin, Texas last weekend. How would you compare the Austin crowd to the Dublin crowd you played to the week before?
JOE ROGAN: They’re both great in different ways. Ireland is a lot like England — they really appreciate American standup comedy over there. I don’t know what it is about American comedy and the U.K., but it seems to work. I’ve even met a few American expatriates who live over there and do standup. But Dublin was great, and the fans in Austin are always awesome — it’s one of my favorite places ever.
Out of curiosity, is it possible to score good weed in Ireland?
Not good weed. No. You can get passable weed. Unfortunately for the Irish, marijuana is just as illegal as heroin or cocaine or anything else. I believe the way they prosecute it is by how much the drug is worth, rather than how dangerous or harmful to society it is.
I just got your last comedy CD Shiny Happy Jihad, and in the liner notes it says “All together in 2012.” What’s going to happen in 2012?
That’s like the million dollar question, right there. Who knows what’s going to happen. I’m not a scientist, or an archeologist, or a futurist, so for me it’s more fun than anything. But the idea behind it, according to people who take it very seriously, whether they’re the people who decipher the Mayan calendar, or the Terrence McKennas of the world — there’s a guy named Terrence McKenna who actually created a mathematical algorithm that predicted what he called “waves of novelty,” meaning human innovation throughout time and history, and he believed that what we do as human beings, as far as creating new things like the wheel or matches or the Internet, that what we’re doing is part of a mathematical program. Meaning that we are doing something that you can actually track with mathematics. And his algorithm showed that human innovation is pre-destined. It’s just what we do, like bees make beehives, ants make anthills — human beings make technology. We change our environment, we alter things. And that eventually we were going to reach a peak point, or a point of what they call “ultimate novelty,” and that this is going to be a moment where something is invented, something happens, that changes the world as we know it.
Could it be the invention of a time machine? Could it be the Large Hadron Collider gets fired up finally and causes a fuckin’ black hole that envelops the earth? Who knows what it is. Maybe it’s something that hasn’t even been thought of yet, that’s going to be invented based on previous inventions and it’s going to change the whole world. Or, maybe nothing. But the end date that he came up with for this novelty theory was December 21st, 2012, which is the exact same date to the day as the end of the long count in the Mayan calendar — that’s what the Mayans predicted to be the end of the age. And that human beings go in a 20+ thousand year cycles, and we have these rises and falls in human history, these moments where things change absolutely and completely, and will never be the same again. And this is going to happen on December 21st, 2012. The Mayans had predicted so many fascinating things, like thousands and thousands of years ago.
Do you also believe in the existence of the Illuminati, like your friend and jiu-jitsu teacher Eddie Bravo?
Well, what does that really mean? Do I believe that there’s a secret handshake that some of the top senators and bankers engage in? No, not in that sense. But I think it’s pretty obvious that the world is being controlled by the people with all the money, and that’s always been the case. I wrote a blog post after “Fight for the Troops,” about how when we were over there we got to talk to all these guys who were missing hands and shit, and these kids who thought they were over there doing a great service to the world by being a part of this invasion of some foreign country that never did anything to us. Their motives were entirely pure but they were being led. I completely support soldiers, but they have no idea what the fuck is going on, why they’re going to certain countries, why they’re taking orders — they’re just doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They’re being soldiers, they’re following orders
There’s a guy named Major Smedley Butler, who was the commander of the United States Marine Corps, and he wrote a speech in 1933 called War Is a Racket, which is fascinating if you read it in 2009. Because in 1933 this guy was talking about how when he was going to all these different places in the name of liberty and justice, really what he was doing was clearing the area for oil companies and making the area safe for bankers, and that basically war is just a means that the elite use to control the rest of the world. They go in and clear areas out so they can profit from them. And that’s been the case since the beginning of time. War is about profit and controlling resources. So do I believe in the Illuminati in that sense? Yes, I do. I do believe that wars are created for profit. And they always have been. And there’s evidence, these aren’t just speculations.
If you look at just this country over the last 50-60 years, in 1961 there was a document that was released called the Northwoods Document, which became available in the Freedom of Information act fairly recently, and this document was signed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff but was vetoed by Kennedy, and it was basically a plan to attack American civilians and to make it look like Cubans were doing it, in order to generate enthusiasm for a war against Cuba. It’s a false flag attack on Americans. They had plans to blow up an American jetliner, attack college students, all this shit just to get people to be enthusiastic about a war with Cuba. And the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the reason why we got into Vietnam — which never happened. It was a fake attack, it was another false flag incident, another incident of the people in charge conspiring to create an excuse to go to war. So it that sense, the elite controlling the world, that’s fucking real.
Let’s switch gears and talk about the UFC for a bit. How much preparation goes into each one of your UFC commentary appearances? Do you do a lot of research, or do you just kind of wing it?
The beautiful thing about being a real fan of MMA is that I do research every day, just because I’m interested. Every day I wake up in the morning, I check my message board, I check my e-mail, I check the news, and once that’s out of the way I go to the MMA boards. I check out MixedMartialArts.com, MMA Weekly, Sherdog, and a bunch of other websites, and often times I hear news on the websites before I hear it from the UFC. But I don’t think of it as research. I would be doing it anyway, because I really love the sport. So when I’m doing my preparation, it’s really just me being interested in MMA.
Has the UFC ever gotten upset about anything you’ve said on air?
No. They don’t like it when I talk about other organizations, and when they were trying to buy PRIDE, they asked me not to mention PRIDE, so I didn’t. I never mentioned the organization in particular, but I always mentioned the fighters that were competing in PRIDE. And it was kind of a touchy situation, because I’d be the only one talking about them. Goldberg wouldn’t touch it. I would bring up Nogueira or Fedor, all these other guys. But they didn’t want free publicity for PRIDE. That was pretty much the only thing they’ve asked me not to do.
So they’re okay with you occasionally being critical of fighters, like when you were burying Mauricio Rua’s performance during UFC 93?
No, they don’t have a problem with that, because my criticism is totally based on honesty. I couldn’t say “Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua looks like he could just step in right now and fight the cream of the crop at 205.” I mean, you’re talking about a guy who was gassed out of his mind, fighting Mark Coleman, who was just standing there with his hands down, and he couldn’t do anything to him. It was a very disappointing performance for both men. Mark’s 44 years old, he hadn’t fought in two years, he didn’t have a real camp, he kind of trained himself for the fight, and he showed tremendous guts and courage just to stand in there and keep swinging. And there were a couple points where I thought if he had more energy he could have stopped the fight. When he had Shogun down and he was punching him, I was like “Is this going to be the end of this fight?’ But he just didn’t have the physical energy in him.
My criticism is never like a personal thing, like “oh my God, this guy sucks, he’s terrible,” it’s always 100% honest, like “what am I looking at?” If I have to assess fighters objectively based on how I believe they would perform against the elite in the division, I mean, I couldn’t imagine any scenario with Lyoto Machida vs. Shogun, other than Lyoto running circles around him and beating the shit out of him while he’s exhausted. I couldn’t imagine Lyoto not stopping him, watching Shogun’s performance. Does that mean that it’s not possible that Shogun can return to the Shogun of old? It’s very possible. But at that moment in time, he was severely underprepared. Because that wasn’t supposed to be like a tremendous test for him. So no, I’ve never gotten talked to for criticizing fighters.
Tell me a little about how you got into doing commentary for the UFC.
I never set out to be a sports commentator. All of it is just completely by chance. The first time I did it, when I was doing post-fight interviews for the old UFC, that was really just for fun. What they were paying me was barely enough money to get me to show up. For me it was just a fun thing, like hey, here I am in Dothan, Alabama, watching live cage fights. I’d only seen the UFC on television at that point, I’d never been to a live event before, and all of a sudden I’m flying all over the country. But I never thought of it as a job or anything serious.
When I was on Fear Factor, Dana White would get me free tickets — when you see all those celebrities cageside, he gives those guys free tickets and takes care of them — and I just thought I was going to watch some fights. I’m a comedian, not a sports commentator. But he talked me into doing it, and it’s probably the greatest job I’ve ever had, by far. It’s the only job I’ve ever had in my life, outside of standup comedy, that doesn’t feel like a job. There’s never one day where I don’t look forward to it. Even when you’re in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the food sucks, and it’s raining every day and it’s depressing as shit, once you’re in the arena you’re like “Goddamn, here we go, whoo!” It’s fun. I think it’s the greatest sport in the world, and it’s an amazing way to decipher and decode human behavior and psychology, and to learn about people in a very deep way. You watch people fight and you see people exposed, characters exposed, personality flaws, you see heart, you see courage, you see willpower, indominatable spirit — when you see all that stuff, it inspires you. Just being cageside for that stuff, and seeing some of the great fights that I’ve seen, the gutsy performances that I’ve seen, it really gives you a deep insight into human beings and what they’re capable of. And every week we have fights, the bar gets raised.
Do you have a specific prediction for how Saturday’s BJ Penn/Georges St. Pierre fight is going to end?
No, I never predict anything, because first of all, how the fuck could you know? I think predictions are silly. If you look at strengths and weaknesses, that’s one thing, but I think the most you could ever really say is “who the hell knows what’s going to happen?” When I look at BJ’s abilities and Georges St. Pierre’s abilities, I can’t imagine this being anything other than amazing. It’s just gonna be an incredible fight. Both guys are fighting for history. Both guys are fighting for their legacy. Both guys are at the top of their career, at the peak. Georges St. Pierre, even though he had a tough go of it last time against BJ, has improved remarkably since then. He’s a much better fighter now. And I think BJ’s a far better fighter than he was during the first fight. His conditioning is through the roof. You look at the Joe Stevenson fight, the Sean Sherk fight — he can keep a furious pace now, that he could not keep before, and keep it deep into the third round, and hopefully the fourth or the fifth if the fight goes that long.
Georges St. Pierre is the quintessential athlete. I mean, the guy moves like a fuckin’ gazelle. His ability to spring forward with his legs — when you’re watching it live you really appreciate it. That dude is a freak athlete, and that term’s kind of overused, especially by me, but that’s the best way to describe that guy. He’s awesome on his feet. And that’s one of the reasons why he’s been able to take guys down so well. His wrestling is excellent, but also his shot, his ability to explode forward is almost unprecedented in MMA. But jiu-jitsu wise, it’s gonna be real hard to submit BJ. His jiu-jitsu has always been at the top level of the game. He’s widely regarded by top jiu-jitsu experts who have rolled with him as just being on another level.
But on the other hand, the way Georges St. Pierre finished Matt Hughes, I was just blown away. Matt Hughes is no BJ Penn, don’t get me wrong, but Georges is showing some real improvements in his jiu-jitsu. And not just his jiu-jitsu — his wrestling and his standup look better as well. His standup against Jon Fitch looked super sharp. It’s just an awesome fight. To see BJ Penn in shape, motivated, with great conditioning, doing all the things he needs to be prepared for this fight physically. As long as he comes in healthy, his skill set is amazing. BJ’s got some of the best hands in MMA, he’s a great boxer, his jab is excellent, his head movement is excellent. His skin is like a fuckin’ coconut, it’s almost impossible to cut. He’s a great, great fighter. He’s born for this. So I just think this is gonna be a fuckin’ amazing fight, and I can’t wait.
Tell me one thing about Mike Goldberg that would shock most people.
A lot of people get on him for asking dumb questions during the broadcasts, like why doesn’t he know these things — of course he knows the things he’s asking me. He’s asking to educate other people. When he says, “Joe, is his arm in danger here?” He knows that the guy’s arm is in danger! But when there’s a funky position on the ground, he wants me to speak to the people that have just started watching MMA. They see a tangle of bodies on the ground and they go “what am I supposed to be looking at here?” If you don’t know jiu-jitsu, it’s very difficult to decipher. A punch to the face is very obvious, a kick to the head, very obvious, but when you see a guy trying to pull off an omoplata, you’re like “what the hell’s he doing?” So Mike Goldberg knows the answers to a lot of those questions he’s asking me. He’s just doing it to improve the knowledge of the viewer. And he’s a great guy. He’s really a super-nice guy and a good friend, and I always look forward to seeing him.
There was a point in time where we almost lost him to the WWE. They were offering him a ton of money to go over there and do their broadcasts, and it was real hard for him to pass on it. I had a talk with Dana and those guys and I said “I don’t want to tell you what to do, but me and this guy have great chemistry, and I like having him around.” And fortunately they were able to keep him.
What’s going on with Game Show in My Head? Is that coming back for another season?
I don’t know. We only did eight episodes — which I recorded way back in April — and they all aired this month. We’ll see. But I don’t think it’s CBS’s kind of show. There were several moments where they were a little uncomfortable with how it turned out. But their shows are like real slow underhand lobs — not that there’s anything wrong with that, but they like those family sitcoms that aren’t going to hurt anybody.
How often did you have to deal with the show’s producer, Ashton Kutcher?
I only met him once. He seemed like a nice enough guy. He’s one of those guys who has never done anything to offend me — neither in television, in print, in interviews — but he’s a good-looking, handsome, young multi-millionaire, and that just makes people think that he’s gotta be a douchebag
My co-editor Ben Fowlkes wanted me to ask you about the episode of NewsRadio where you face off against Andy Dick in an MMA match. Whose idea was that?
Man, that was over ten years ago. We did a lot of stuff on NewsRadio where we came up with things on the fly, and it was probably one of those things where we were rehearsing, and said “well what could we do here? How about if Joe has an MMA fight against Andy?” It was probably just said as a joke.
What was your best memory from that show?
I have a lot of great memories from that show. That was an awesome gig. I was on another sitcom called Hardball for a couple episodes before that, but nobody really saw it, and all of a sudden I’m on this NBC sitcom with all these great actors. I’m sitting there working with Phil Hartman — I had never even met a famous guy before, and now here I am working with Phil Hartman? That was just craziness. It was just a very fortunate time in my life. But NewsRadio really didn’t become successful until it was off the air. While it was on, very few people watched it. At one point in time we were like #88 in the ratings. And the reason I remember that is because the writers used to jokingly wear t-shirts with the number we were in the ratings. And this guy showed up with an 88 one day, and I went “What the fuck, dude, for real?” When it went into syndication it grew in popularity and eventually became this cult hit, so to speak. But it wasn’t a hit when it was on the air. Which I think was good because it kept people from getting big heads, and it kept out a lot of nonsense that goes with a successful program, where the network interferes with the artistic side of it.
Are there any other projects you’re working on that we should know about?
I’m working on a new stand-up comedy special for SpikeTV. Right now we’re just trying to figure out when to do it. Basically I’ll do a CD or DVD — the last thing I did was Shiny Happy Jihad — then after its over I just start writing again, because my hardcore fans will know all that material, so I have to come up with new stuff. And it usually takes about a year to have enough material for a completely new hour that I feel 100% comfortable with. Then I add to it and really tighten it up, and get everything correct and in a place where I’m happy with it. And then I try to film it for a CD or DVD or something along those lines.
What was the last thing that made you lose your shit laughing?
There’s this thing on my website right now created by these guys Tim and Eric, and it’s called Dance Floor Dale…
I just saw that. It’s amazing.
It’s fuckin’ awesome. It’s so out there. One of the most ridiculous animated psychedelic things I’ve ever seen in my life. Hilarious, genius shit. And it’s one of the things that highlights the freedom and beauty of the Internet — how could you put that anywhere besides the Internet? I don’t even think HBO would allow that. It’s one of those things where you could only do it on the Internet.
Swing by JoeRogan.net to tell Joe you love him, get your hands on Shiny Happy Jihad if you haven’t heard it yet, and keep an eye out for Joe’s next standup special on SpikeTV. And don’t make too many plans for 2013, okay?