No Ordinary Joe

Joe Rogan is angry with Canada. It seems the Los Angeles-based standup comedian loves the Great White North and its famously friendly inhabitants, but is none too pleased with Canada’s recent decision to extradite B.C. pot activist Marc Emery to the U.S. for selling marijuana seeds through the mail.

“That’s really a disgraceful thing. I’m really upset at Canada for doing that, for giving that guy up to America,” Rogan said in a telephone interview this week. “No one in Canada wants to prosecute him yet they send this guy to America to lock him in a cage for selling seeds of a plant that makes you silly.”

Rogan will take the stage at the Burton Cummings Theatre on Saturday, his first stop in Winnipeg in more than 20 years of doing standup comedy. He appeared on the NBC sitcom NewsRadio in the ‘90s and is best known for his later role as host of the reality TV show Fear Factor and his current gig doing colour commentary for the hugely popular Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Those who know of the former U.S. taekwondo champion through his involvement with the crude spectacle of UFC or the nausea-inducing Fear Factor might dismiss him as a testosterone-fuelled meathead. However, there is another side to Joe Rogan. The motor-mouth comic is smarter than you might think. He is also an advocate of using recreational drugs — specifically marijuana and psychedelics — to expand your mind, and keeps a sensory deprivation tank in his basement.

“It’s something that people have been using to try to achieve enlightenment, or a better understanding of this world, for a long time,” he said of the drugs. “People are interested in altered states of consciousness. I think the real crime is not that people are using these drugs, the real crime is that someone out there is telling you that you can’t.”

Rogan has also been known to spout conspiracy theories — he has stated the moon landing was a hoax and mocks the Single Bullet Theory — and is intensely political, an angry libertarian with a hippie streak.

“We have an amazing lists of things that are illegal in this world. In this country, and in Canada as well. Things that don’t make any sense whatsoever,” he said. “I think they only should be crimes when people are being victimized, when other people are being hurt. The simple ones: theft, murder, assault — those are real crimes.”

Rogan says he loves Canada and even considered moving here after George W. Bush won his second term as U.S. president in 2004. Even with the 2008 presidential campaign long over, he says he is still obsessed with Sarah Palin.

“I have to stop myself from reading s— about her because it’s just so maddening,” he said. “I’m obsessed with dumb people who want everyone else to be dumb too.”

Rogan, who grew up in Massachusetts, got his start in comedy in the late ‘80s after some gym buddies encouraged him to give it a try. Like many comics, he did not have a very happy childhood. Rogan’s parents split when he was young and he hasn’t spoken to his father since he was seven.

“I think that’s a prerequisite for being a comedian,” he said. “I don’t think I know any comedians that had a great childhood. And if they did have a great childhood, they’re probably not very funny.”

These days, Rogan is a lot happier. He saw Fear Factor as a “boring” job that paid the bills and is glad to be involved with UFC, given his love of mixed martial arts.

“Everything I do now, from standup comedy to UFC, are the things that I really, really enjoy,” he said. “I don’t think of either one of them as work. So it makes life a lot more interesting.”

Rogan says having two young daughters, one born just weeks ago, has also changed his life for the better.

“A door opens up in your mind. You see the world completely different,” he said of fatherhood. “I think it’s made me a nicer, more sensitive person, but it hasn’t taken away any of my edge as a comedian.”

– Article from the Winnipeg Sun.