Skip to main content

Comedian, TV personality, mixed martial arts commentator. There's a lot going on in Joe Rogan's world.

He doesn't seem to want it any other way.

"My life is time off," he said cheerfully in an interview. "I don't really have a job. Everything I do is fun."

Rogan, 39, can usually divide the people he meets into distinct camps.

There are fans who know him as host of TV's "Fear Factor" and those who remember him from the earlier sitcom "NewsRadio." Others know him as a standup comedian. And a growing number associate him with the Ultimate Fighting Championship for his work as mixed martial arts commentator and host of Spike TV's "Inside The UFC."

But there are even more pieces to the Rogan puzzle, including Rogan's expanding presence on the Internet via his web page (, MySpace page and Internet video "Joeshow."

"The field has changed and I think the Internet is probably as important if not more important than anything else now," Rogan said. "Doing a set on the Conan O'Brien show is wonderful, it's an honour, all that good stuff, all great comics have done it.

"But it doesn't compare to having a really funny clip that gets on YouTube."

Rogan cites a video clip of him handling a heckler at a comedy show in Las Vegas. The exchange was captured by a camera phone and put on YouTube.

Rogan reckons the clip has been seen by more than a million people since.

"Everywhere I go, people have come up to me and said, 'Dude, that video of you with the heckler in Las Vegas was hilarious.' So many people have come up to me, it's kind of shocking."

So Rogan has two full-time employees who maintain his presence in cyberspace.

Financially secure from his past TV work and a good deal with the UFC, Rogan is smart, funny and quick on his feet. Unafraid to make waves, he is using the Internet to make his point these days.

"I might not be in the highest position on the totem pole but I'm certainly not in the lowest," Rogan said. "People know who I am, people will listen to me and I have a reputation for being a very honest person."

Most recently he turned his attention on fellow comedian Carlos Mencia, accusing him of stealing material - a charge Mencia denies. The two former friends had it out on stage at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles in an altercation posted on YouTube and Rogan's web page.

Rogan, who dubbed the campaign "comedy crime fighting" was eventually banished from The Comedy Store and parted ways with his comedy agent, who also represents Mencia.

Rogan didn't miss a beat, moving his comedy base to The Improv.

Rogan will pick up his UFC microphone again this week, serving as MC for the UFC 68 weigh-in and then as commentator for Saturday's mixed martial arts card in Columbus, Ohio.

He'll also squeeze in a standup show at the Columbus Funny Bone.

"It gets a little weird," Rogan said of his schedule.

After spending much of the last decade in TV (1995-99 "NewsRadio" and 2001-06 "Fear Factor"), Rogan is turning his attention back to comedy.

"There comes weird moments in times in your career when things are going too good," Rogan explained. "You don't have any hunger anymore and you can get lazy. And I definitely did at one point in time. But then I kind of caught myself, I caught myself being uninspired and not doing any new jokes. And I really just cranked it up a few years ago and threw myself right back into it."

A new CD ("Shiny Happy Jihad") is due out April 10. A DVD is also slated for release in June.

The CD is adult, eclectic and very funny. Rogan's musing on the anti-evolution of man - dumb people outbreeding smart people - is hilarious and makes more than a little sense.

As is his take on our role in the universe.

"It's very weird that we're on a rock flying through the universe and it hardly ever comes up," he notes on the CD. "Everybody wants to take about Brad and Angelina's baby . . . Nobody wants to talk about the fact we're on a rock flying though space."

That's a cleaned up version. PG are two letters missing from Rogan's alphabet.

"I've never done PG standup because I don't think PG. I don't understand what PG is," he says.

Masturbation, relationships, religion, terrorism. Rogan has theories on them all - some perhaps fuelled by hours spent in his sensory deprivation tank (take a coffin-like box, fill it with 10 to 12 inches of water at 931/2 degrees Fahrenheit and 900 pounds of Epsom salt and go for a float).

"It literally is like a completely natural psychedelic experience," Rogan explains.

Rogan is also an equal opportunity comedian, not averse to poking fun at himself.

Before comedy, Rogan was immersed in mixed martial arts. A black belt and former Massachusetts taekwondo champion, he is currently a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, also training in kick-boxing.

He has had two stints with the UFC, doing post-fight interviews from 1996 to '98 for the previous owners and then becoming a commentator in 2002 after the current ownership took over.

"He knew a lot about the sport and I liked the way he talked about it," said UFC president Dana White. "He's not afraid to speak his mind. I thought Joe would be a good fit for us."

Good call. Rogan works well on air with commentator Mike Goldberg, and his irreverent sense of humour works nicely when he serves as MC for the weigh-ins before big shows.

Rogan says MMA is successful because, unlike boxing, it is not constrained.

MMA combines a world of options and techniques with a strong Darwinian survival angle.

Rogan notes the significance of when fighters tap out in a submission hold - signalling that they have given up. In essence "you're conceding that this person just killed you. Really that's what it is. (In reality) if someone breaks your arm, someone gets you in an armbar and breaks your arm, that's just step one to killing you.

"There's something really exciting about that. That's just alpha male chimpanzee DNA in action. That's really what it is."

Rogan points to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva of Brazil as a fighter at the top of his game.

"Watching that guy is a pleasure. It's a ballet of violence. His skill level and his technique level, it's really fascinating to watch. It's beautiful."

Born in Newark, N.J., and raised in Boston, Rogan worked at a variety of jobs (limo driver, construction, assistant to a private detective) when manager Jeff Sussman caught his act.

Sussman took him to New York and a spot on "MTV's Half-Hour Comedy Hour," which prompted offers from TV - first the short-lived "Hardball" series, then "NewsRadio" (an experience he enjoyed) and "Fear Factor" (a show he was amazed ever hit the airwaves).

"I never set out to do any acting. I never took any acting classes or anything. I just wanted to be a standup comedian."

"Fear Factor" lasted six seasons, much to Rogan's shock and disbelief - and financial gain.

"It was time (to quit) after like Season 2," he said. "There was a point where I was like 'Let's just stop doing this. What are we doing?"'

Rogan said he had to stop himself at times, to reflect on exactly what he was doing and saying - as contestants ate camel spiders, were attacked by dogs and wore helmets filled with scorpions. And that was just in Season 6.

He's still shaking his head over the show. But the money was good, even if the series showcased little of his talent.

Today Rogan lives outside Los Angeles, a city he appears to have a love-hate relationship with.

"I like the weather. I don't like the way this whole city revolves around objects and money and attention and no one's really paying attention to what's going on in the world."

He likes to hang out with fellow comedians or those in the MMA world. Never one to sit still, he's thinking about writing a book.

Apart from a recent Hawaiian vacation with his girlfriend, he rarely takes time off.

Rogan found his place in TV unexpectedly early. He says, if anything, that success just reinforced his love for comedy.

"I'd only been doing comedy a couple of years and I was on TV. It was almost like I got this big prize dumped off on my life really early, and I made tons of money from it. 'NewsRadio' and then on to 'Fear Factor.' But one of the things I realized while this was all going on is that's not nearly as fun as the live standup comedy.

"Live standup comedy is always better, it's more exciting, it's more enjoyable when it done's right. It's definitely more entertaining. Everything about it's better. And now that I don't have to worry about money any more, I don't have to think about that stuff, I can concentrate on what I actually enjoy doing.

"I'm approaching it now with like all the excitement of a guy who's just been doing comedy for a couple of years, even though I've been doing it for like 18."

Report an error

Editorial code of conduct